So, you’re probably putting the last touches to the house for Christmas tomorrow; wrapping presents, tidying up, bringing the last bit of food in… but will you be keeping with Japanese tradition and heading to KFC for lunch tomorrow?
That’s right: KFC, as in Kentucky Friend Chicken, as in the fast food place.
Japan has some explaining to do…
The reason that people in Japan visit KFC in droves on Christmas Day is brilliant advertising. Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan (only one per cent of the population are Christian), yet a bucket of ‘Christmas Chicken’ is the thing to have over there on 25 December. The first KFC Japan opened in Nagoya in 1970 and quickly gained popularity, thanks largely to the perceived ‘coolness’ of American stuff.
The idea for Christmas=KFC came about in the mid-seventies when a group of tourists were looking for turkey on Christmas Day, a meat that is practically impossible to find in Japan), and opted for fried chicken instead. Yen signs flashed over the marketing team’s head and the ‘kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!’ campaign, meaning ‘Kentucky for Christmas’, launched in 1974. The first Christmas meal was a costly 2,920 yen ($10). Today the chicken dinner with cake and champagne, costs about 3,336 yen ($40).
Believe it or not, but many people order their KFC dinners months in advance to avoid the queues!
KFC hasn’t just tapped into Christmas. In 2012 it opened a three-story restaurant in Tokyo which includes the company’s first-ever, fully stocked whiskey bar, offering visitors ‘a taste of Good ‘ol America’.
It’s arguably a bit depressing to think that when Japan has all that amazing food, the thing that it wants on Christmas Day is western fast food. Still, this is a rather amusing anecdote (and one to share with your family tomorrow) and just goes to show how powerful marketing is.
So, whether you’re celebrating or not, or eating turkey or nipping to KFC, have a very Merry Christmas!