Five Stats to Understand Christmas in Japan

Less Spending, More One-to-One Time

Author: Man-Chung Cheung

December 21, 2017

Christmas is not an official holiday in Japan, nor a widely observed religious holiday, but it is celebrated nonetheless in its own unique way. Here’s some data that highlights Christmas in Japan.

No. 1: For Many, It’s a Romantic Thing

In much of the Western world, Christmas is primarily a family affair. In Japan, many people see Christmas as an opportunity to spend time with a spouse or partner.

According to a November 2017 survey conducted by Rakuten Research, 45.5% of respondents said they plan to spend time with their significant other. That’s far more than the 25.7% who said they planned to spend time with their children.

Only 7.0% saw Christmas as a day to spend with their parents.

No. 2: It’s Not About the Gifts

The same survey found that the expectation of gifts is hardly universal.

More than one-third said they didn’t particularly want a gift for Christmas. (People in their 20s were more likely to want something, though.)

For those who did have a wish, “dining out” was the most common choice, selected by 8.7% of respondents.

No. 3: The Guys Are Picking Up the (Larger) Tab

According to Rakuten, spending on gifts averages about $83. Men on average spend considerably more than women—about $96 vs. $71.

But that spending pales beside American gift budgets. According to the National Retail Federation, US consumers expect to spend more than $578 apiece on gifts this year.

No. 4: You Probably Wouldn’t Be Surprised by Kids’ Wish Lists

A study from toymaker Bandai found that the most-wanted gifts among children in Japan are gaming software (12.5%), plush dolls/action figures (12.0%), toy cars (6.9%), character costumes and wearables (6.6%), and gaming devices (6.6%).

Parents’ shopping lists for their kids weren't all that different, except that the lists included educational toys (10.8%). Other than that, the items parents expected to buy were right in line with the things kids were hoping for.

No. 5: Parents Are Buying More

Kids should be pleased by the Christmas spending trends, Bandai found. According to its survey, parents have increased budgets for kids’ presents to about $65, higher than in previous years.


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