In December 1999, we sent questionnaires to 1044 people who were registered in the category of Japan of our pen pal service and who indicated that they are willing to participate in surveys. We received 208 valid responses from Japanese people who live in Japan. However the participants are mainly female (75%), single (89%) and between 10 and 30 years young (82%). In addition, we must consider the fact that all participants are registered in an international pen pal service, which may mean that they are overall more internationally oriented than the average Japanese.

Christmas in Japan

Less than 2% of the Japanese are Christians, and Christmas is not a national holiday. Nevertheless, the popularity of Christmas is growing in Japan especially among young female Japanese. Please visit the Christianity page for more information about Christianity in Japan.

According to our survey, Christmas is something special for over 60% of the survey participants. The percentage is higher for women (67%) than for men (40%), and it is highest for female teenagers (86%). On Christmas, 34% of the survey participants have a special family dinner, 18% have a dinner with friends and 15% have a special dinner with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The survey results also show the typical Japanese Christmas menu: A large majority of 73% enjoys a Christmas cake and 34% prepare chicken. Only about 4% follow the American tradition of eating turkey.

Christmas decoration

Among our survey participants, a majority of 60% also exchanges gifts on Christmas. Most of them exchange presents with family members, friends, girlfriends and boyfriends. Finally, 35% of the participants indicated that they decorate their houses for Christmas, while a large majority of 65% did not.

New Year in Japan

New Year (Shogatsu) is probably the most important holiday during the Japanese year. Please visit the New Year's page for more information.

Osechi Ryori

Toshikoshi Soba

In our survey we asked the participants about their activities during the New Year holidays: The tradition of eating Osechi Ryori is still followed by a large majority (72%) of the Japanese. 61% of our survey's participants visit a temple or shrine on New Year. Large popularity enjoys also the television program "Kohaku Uta Gassen": about every second person answered that he/she watches the NHK show on New Year's eve.

Decorating the house or car for New Year, however, seems to loose in popularity. Only 33% of the participants indicated that they decorate their house and/or car.

New Year decorations

The New Year holidays are also known for high travel activities. Almost 10% of the survey participants undertake a trip. Roughly 90% of the trips are domestic while the rest are overseas trips.