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Christmas & KFC: A Unique Japanese Tradition


The end of the year is finally upon us, and one of the more prominent holidays is Christmas. Typically Christmas is associated with fir trees, presents, Santa, the birth of Jesus, holiday cheer and togetherness, and fried Chicken.

Oh yes, you read that correctly, fried chicken.

Christmas and KFCJapan has its own special way of celebrating Christmas, and it involves a robust and undeniable focus on our feathered friends. And though Western cultures may not be able to fully understand at first, it’s an important part of seasonal, cultural, and perhaps economical history. The story goes like this:

Long, long ago – in the 1970’s – a well-known fast-food chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), sought to create a special and dedicated Christmas tradition in Japan, otherwise known as “marketing.” The tradition created was known as the Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii campaign.

Roughly translated, it means “Kentucky for Christmas,” and it involves buckets of chicken, cake, salad, and fancy champagne all for about $50 USD. Though originally perhaps geared at foreigners in Japan looking for a taste of “home,” it quickly took off country-wide.

Christmas and KFCThis seemingly small, seasonal shift became such a cultural phenomenon that it currently results in an estimated yearly 3.6 million Japanese braving arduous lines and daunting crowds to obtain the crispy golden chicken. The event has grown to such heights – literally – that it can even sometimes be found on select flights. Click here to see one of the campaign commercials used during the event.

KFC continues to move forward as a peak-restaurant with both foreign and domestic appeal. In an attempt to remain fresh and innovative, KFC has even begun implementing a whiskey bar in some of their locations.

If you ever find yourself in Japan during the Christmas holiday season, it’s certainly something you should try to experience. In the meantime, follow the countdown on their official website and just enjoy the anticipation – who needs presents when you’ve got fried chicken?


On a related note, we at Cultural Awareness International want to wish you and your family a happy holiday season. We hope you are able to partake the season, celebrate good cheer and peace, and take a break from some of the stresses of life to enjoy the time.

Christmas and KFC