Walking through the main arcade from the west exit of Yokohama station in mid November, I chuckled to myself as I witnessed Don Quixote employees replacing the usual risqué コスプレ (cosplay) outfits from the store front displays and replacing them with Santa and reindeer outfits. As I looked to the other side of the street, Colonel Sanders had already donned his Santa clothes and above him read a banner that KFC were ready to take orders for Christmas Eve. Those reading this article from abroad might assume the sight of this may have shocked or horrified me, but, as is the case after living here for a while, I simply shrugged and moved on.
For those that have spent at least one Christmas here would know that a Japanese-style Christmas is more like an early Valentines Day, but instead of chocolates, couples are more inclined to hock into a Two-piece KFC Feed. Whilst back home the thought of pulling through the KFC drive-thru on Christmas Eve might almost seem sacrilegious, in Japan it has almost become tradition, and the Kentucky Fried marketing dept must be loving it!
KFC opened its first restaurant in Nagoya in 1970, one year earlier than McDonald’s entered the market. Soon after, KFC began an advertising campaign with the Colonel dressed up as Santa, and so began KFC’s monopoly over the festive season. Getting back to the point about Christmas being an early Valentines Day, families are also not forgotten with KFC bringing out family Christmas Packs, accommodating the nuclear Japanese family’s needs, i.e. just enough for mum, dad and their only child.
After living in Japan for a while, the convenience of having a takeaway Christmas dinner is quite tempting considering how difficult it is to have a proper Christmas roast without an oven. While we all might crave for a home cooked roast lamb, beef or turkey, a readily available roast chicken with the Colonel’s 12 secret herbs and spices is certainly more appealing than a trip out to CostCo.
Kentucky Fried Christmas is a fine example of commercialism at its best, and Japan’s hunger for it. As we see Christmas becoming more and more commercial back in our home countries, Japan manages to do one better and add fast food to the mix. Let’s hope Japan doesn’t discover Easter or else we’ll be inundated with another commercially drained holiday. Luckily that falls (usually) at a time of the year when people are still recovering from their hanami hangovers, while Christmas falls at that virtuous time between the compulsory Bonenkai (end-of-year party) and New Year’s.
Anyway, a Merry Christmas to you all from Stippy.com! If you haven’t already booked your KFC feast, better get down their quick or you’ll be forced to join the block long queue!