Why do Japanese eat KFC for Christmas? | A close look at Japan

"A Close Look at Japan" is a column set up by Chen Yaoshi, a writer living in Japan, in the interface news, telling about Japanese business and culture.
People in northern China eat jiaozi on the winter solstice, while Japanese eat KFC on Christmas. Trying to eat KFC on Christmas Eve is like trying to eat Haidilao at seven o’clock in the evening, because there are long queues at the gates of KFC, and no one has provided free tea, watermelon and manicure services.
However, even if you can’t get in line, there are ways. Many families will choose to go to the store or order a family bucket online to eat at home. After all, Christmas Eve should be spent with their families. Figures provided by the American fast food industry show that from December 20 to 25, 2018, KFC stores in Japan earned about 63 million US dollars, and Christmas Eve was a crazy night for KFC, with sales usually four or five times that of usual.
This phenomenon is a bit ridiculous. When I first spent Christmas in Japan, I was shocked by the long queue at the gate of KFC-KFC is called fast food for China people, and it is generally favored by couples of children and college students. Why did KFC become a Christmas dinner in Japan? Is it because the Japanese can’t afford to eat turkey and take KFC to deal with it?
In fact, it is not because the Japanese can’t afford to eat turkey, but because there is no turkey in Japan. In 1970, the first KFC in Japan opened, and the business was bleak. At that time, Japan’s economy had developed at a high speed, and KFC, which provided standardized and high-quality services, did not attract the attention of Japanese consumers.
But the Japanese like to celebrate Christmas. In the long time and space, this festival from the west has been widely accepted by the Japanese. In fact, the concept of Christmas spread to Japan during the Meiji Restoration. In 1892, Masaoka Shiki, a master of Japanese literature in Meiji period, wrote that "after Laba is a noisy Christmas". Just like what we said, "Don’t be greedy for children, it’s the year after Laba".
Although in the following years, whether Christmas should be celebrated has aroused widespread discussion in society, the theory of the opponents is very clear: Japan is not a Christian country, so why should it be celebrated? How should Japan’s own traditions be preserved?
However, Yanagita Kunio, the father of Japanese folklore, thinks that Christmas is just a traditional winter night activity in the East, covered with western pop elements … and the East has a tradition of celebrating the winter solstice night since ancient times. ….
It means that everyone is happy, so why be so serious? The Japanese people don’t care so much, and happiness is the most important thing. They soon enjoyed the fun of Christmas. Since around the 1910 s, Santa Claus, Christmas concerts and dances have come in droves, and major commercial organizations have tried their best to carry out various discounts and promotions. The whole December was immersed in a cheerful atmosphere.
Back to KFC. Before and after Christmas in 1974, KFC played a brainwashing slogan: "Of course, we must eat KFC at Christmas." I didn’t expect this strategy to be a great success.
It is said that this idea came to the manager of KFC in his dream at that time. After waking up, he quickly took a notebook and wrote it down. In addition to this slogan, he also suggested that KFC should launch Christmas package barrels during Christmas to attract consumers.
It is said that another reason is that several westerners living in Japan complained that they didn’t have a turkey dinner in Japan at Christmas, and the manager had a brainwave. So, buddy, come and have a KFC dinner. Anyway, it’s all chickens.
Since then, it has become a tradition to eat KFC in Japan for Christmas. In fact, there is commercial significance behind this. Although the Japanese have a long history of Christmas, they have not formed a unique culture, and what to eat at Christmas has always been a blank in the market. For example, it is a habit and custom to have a family reunion dinner and watch the Spring Festival Gala in China during the Spring Festival. But what to eat at Christmas, the Japanese have never had a fixed habit. Until KFC’s marketing strategy changed this situation.
Moreover, KFC in Japan later strengthened its Christmas significance. They said that KFC’s grandfather looked like Santa Claus … So more Japanese chose to see this KFC grandfather who looked like Santa Claus at Christmas.
Besides eating KFC, if you happen to be in Tokyo, it is definitely a big loss not to see the brightly lit city on Christmas Eve. Whether it is a commercial block or a small park, this day will be shrouded in gorgeous lights containing whimsy and creativity. The images of reindeer, Christmas tree and Santa Claus will be displayed in various forms, and the trees on the roadside will also be lit by various colors of lights.
A few years ago, on Christmas Eve, I walked alone in Marunouchi Street in Tokyo, and was deeply moved by the romance at night. It is said that more than 200 trees on this 1.2-kilometer-long road are lit with shining lights, and there are about 930,000 light bulbs here to illuminate my Little Paradise.
In fact, we don’t have to be too critical of the festivals that emerge from time to time today. The background of their existence may be the planning of businesses, such as shopping, eating and having fun. But what about this? The important thing is, if real life makes you feel bored, what’s wrong with having fun in a festive atmosphere?
(Note: This article only represents the author’s personal views. Editor’s mailbox: zhoujing@jiemian.com)