Japan from the inside out

Nippon Noel: How the Japanese spend Christmas

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, December 22, 2007

HOW DO THE JAPANESE SPEND CHRISTMAS? The best way to answer that is to let the Japanese answer themselves, and the good news is they already have—through surveys.

A group called Work-Life conducted one such survey from 19-22 November. The survey subjects were 891 men and women from the ages of 20-59. Here are the questions and their answers.

Q: Do you feel Christmas is a special day?
The group with the highest percentage of affirmative answers were those in their twenties at 66.5%. Interest in the holiday declined with age, and fell to 36% for people in their 50s.


Q: How do you plan to spend the day?
The highest response was to relax at home, given by 56.8% of the respondents. This was followed by people who planned to have a party at home (22.8%), and people who planned to go out for dinner (18.4%)

Q: For those who plan to relax at home and those who plan to have a party at home, what sort of meals will you eat?
The people who said they expected to have pre-prepared meals, either partially or entirely, accounted for nearly 70% of the responses, showing that home meal replacements will be an important part of Christmas dinner for many. (Finding out things like this is why they conduct the surveys in the first place.)

Broken down by age group, 80% of people in their 20s say they will use home meal replacements. The incidence of this answer trends downward as the respondent’s age increases. Conversely, the older people get, the more likely they are to make their own dinner at home.

Q: For those who plan to have home replacement dinners or to buy pre-prepared ingredients, how much do you plan to spend? (Don’t include Christmas cake and drinks.)
A total of 75.4% of the respondents said less than 5,000 yen. (Roughly US$44.00)

Q: How does this compare to last year’s expenditures?
74.6% replied there would be no change. Fewer than 10% of the people in their 40s or 50s said they would spend more or slightly more, but slightly fewer than 30% of those in their 20s and 30s planned to spend more. Thus, younger people plan on having a more elaborate Christmas celebration.

Q: For those going out to dinner, what type of establishment will you visit?
68.9% said a restaurant, followed by 15.9% who answered an izakaya (a traditional Japanese eating and drinking place).

Q: How much will you spend at these establishments?
Only 5% of the respondents said more than 30,000 yen (US$265.00), and 65.9% said less than 10,000 yen ($88.00). The survey group concluded that people aren’t splurging as they did during the bubble economy days, despite Japan’s brightening economic picture.

All About Presents

What would Christmas be without presents? A survey conducted by Japan.Internet.Com and goo research uncovered some information on Japanese attitudes towards Christmas gifts.

Those surveyed were 1,089 Internet users from their teens to 60 and older. 53.35% were men and 46.65% were women.

Q: Do you plan to give a Christmas present?
44.9% of the respondents said yes and 20.11% said they were thinking about it. 34.99% said no.


Q: To whom will you give a present?
75.05% answered a family member, and 23.11% said a lover. 16.36% of those participating said a friend or acquaintance. Meanwhile, 4.29% said themselves (Multiple answers were possible.)

Q: Where will you buy the presents?
82.41% said brick-and-mortar stores, and 28.83% said an Internet shop. Those are interesting results for an Internet survey.
Just 7.36% said they would give something homemade, and 2.86% said they would give something they already had on hand.

Q: How much money will you spend?
38.24% said between 1,000 (US$8.83) and 5,000 yen, and 31.90% said from 5,000 to 10,000 yen.

Q: What will you buy as presents?
The reply from 30.47% was clothing, 17.38% said confections, 17.18% said game software, and 15.75% said jewelry. In fifth place was “others”, with 14.72%. When those giving “others” as an answer were asked to specify what they would buy, most said toys.

Q: What would you like to receive as a present?
14.97% hoped for jewelry, while 13.59% wanted clothing, and 11.75% said gift certificates.

Yet another survey found that about 90% of all children would receive Christmas presents. (That corresponds with the answers I got in an informal discussion of this question with the students of two college classes I taught in the spring.

Finally, for the sake of comparison, let’s look at some answers from an Internet survey last January conducted by My Voice Communications. They had 10,000 respondents.

45% said they bought Christmas cakes
40% bought presents.
29% had some kind of Christmas decorations in their homes
25.8% said they had a party at home.
More than 20% prepared Christmas dinner at home.
26% said they did nothing special.

The Trees

We’ve seen before that the Japanese have an imaginative approach toward Christmas trees. Here’s a word about the two trees in the photos accompanying this post. The first one is probably unlike any in a Western country. Located in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, it is made of 30 tairyobata, or banners hung by fishing boats to signal a large catch of fish.

A crew of 15 hung a fishing net arranged to look like a tree on the side of a wall 17 meters high on a square near the harbor and decorated it with lights. They also stretched rope down from the roof and attached the banners so that they hung in a triangular tree shape.

The tree, which was first erected last year, will be lit from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. until the 31st.

The second tree is on a traffic circle in front of the Entetsu Railroad’s Hamakita Station in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. It will be lit every day from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. until 15 January.

The tree has roughly 9,000 LEDs that are used for illumination. There are also lights resembling snow crystals and stars decorating a nearby mural, as well as 40 other illuminated trees in the area.

4 Responses to “Nippon Noel: How the Japanese spend Christmas”

  1. Overthinker said

    “The survey group concluded that people aren’t splurging as they did during the bubble economy days, despite Japan’s brightening economic picture.”

    Well, duh.
    But seriously, this idea that Japan’s economy hasn’t recovered until things “return to the Bubble days” of spending etc is not healthy. The bubble was not healthy. Flash, glam, expensive and heady perhaps, but then so is getting drunk on Pol Roger or Krug.

  2. […] blogs a survey on how Japanese spend their Christmas. Share […]

  3. Around The Blogosphere 24 December 07

    Seasons Greetings / Merry christmas to all of my friends, readers and fellow-bloggers out there!

  4. […] Ampontan يدون عن استطلاع للرأي حول كيف يقضي اليابانيين عيد الميلاد. Oiwan […]

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