In Japan, not being a predominantly Christian country, Christmas was not introduced until the arrival of the first Christian missionaries back in the 16th century, although this first incursion ended in the persecution and death of the incipient Christian communities. That, until the opening of Japan to the Western world during the second half of the nineteenth century, it was not possible to say that Christmas had some continuity with the massive arrival of Christian missionaries. Even so, the Japanese Christian community was, and is, purely testimonial, until the Japanese saw in the Christian festivity a commercial lode. It is from there when Christmas in Japan, as in the West, is sold by millions of advertisements and colorful lights that either enter your eyes or you become blind ^ _ ^ U
I suppose, at first, they saw Papa Noël, or Santa Claus, with a certain suspicion of being of foreign origin, so they had no other than to “merge” him with one of his many Shinto deities. Being a polytheistic religion with a god for each objective, surely they could find some that fit the mission of Orion and Good Luck. And so it was, found Hoteiosho. Some consider him one of the 7 gods of fortune while elsewhere he read that he was a Buddhist monk. Be that as it may, the Japanese Santa Claus also has a sack and, as a most remarkable feature, has eyes in the back of the neck to see well children who behave well and those who do not.
Apart from that, Christmas is little more than a commercial event in Japan that has been focused more on couples than on children, although that does not mean that children receive a gift. Couples on the 24th will eat their Christmas cake, one made of cream and strawberries. On the 25th, the leftover cakes are sold at a discounted price or with a very depressing air. There is a saying that women are like Christmas cakes, that before 24 is when they should marry and that after the 25 are already considered leftovers (T_T).
Apart from shopping arcades and shops, few houses put Christmas trees. If they usually do, they are small artificial trees with the decoration already set. They use as decoration of the trees the typical cranes of origami, paper lamps, carillones and candles. Apart from that, there are also few people given to singing carols. On the 26th all the decoration disappears by magic and the Japanese prepare for the end of the year, a party of marked Japanese character and much more ingrained. There is also a Christmas Museum which, as you will understand, is the date when more people visit it. They also unequivocally relate Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to Christmas. There are some who pay a visit to a church, even without being Christians, on Christmas day.
December in Japan is the month of bounenkai, a party to forget the year, so there are people who, otherwise ineffective, get drunk at night to forget ^^ U.
By the way, Merry Christmas in Japanese says Meri Kurisumasu, this is Merry Christmas adapted to Japanese phonetics, in addition to Kuriumasu Omedetou, which is also a mixture of Christmas and Omedetou meaning “Congratulations.”
If you want to see how they celebrate the end of the year, come to this post.