Last time I was in Japan at this time of year, I left just before Christmas (more or less Christmas Eve). I was too busy packing and getting ready to leave to think much about the holiday.
Now that I live here, I can say that Christmas isn’t too different from a regular day in Japan. It’s not a work holiday — I worked a regular shift, for example — and most stores are gearing up for the New Year. They decorate for Christmas and play the usual music, and restaurants sell fried chicken and cake, but it doesn’t consume daily life like it does in the West. I am actually okay with this.
My holiday-related festivities consisted of three things: (1) mailing out a bunch of presents to people back home, (2) the kids’ Christmas party at work, and (3) actually managing to find a KFC that wasn’t sold out of their top-end Christmas meals. The latter was their “Variety Party Barrel” (it’s not called a bucket here), and included four pieces of Original chicken, six tenders, a salad (with croutons, dressing, and bacon bits), a Christmas cake, and a commemorative plate (with a plastic stand, if you don’t want to eat off it and/or have nowhere to put it). I also got their last two bottles of Chanmery, which is like a sparkling cider. I ate the salad and most of the chicken that night, with the leftover tenders serving as breakfast the next day. (As of this writing, the cake’s still in my fridge, along with one bottle of the KFC Chanmery.) Finding that huge meal at 10:00 on Christmas night at the Heiwajima KFC was a stroke of luck; I’m calling it a Christmas miracle.
Next year, I hope to have a larger place and people to spend the holiday with here. Maybe I’ll even eat the cake first.