When I arrived here for the first time, I had no idea what a “Kentucky Fried Christmas” in Japan was. A statue of Colonel Sanders in front of the restaurants surprised me. And I chuckled to myself when they put a Santa outfit on him in December. That was in 1982. I had no idea what “KFC” in Japan had already become.
History of Kentucky Fried Christmas in Japan
The first restaurant in Japan opened in Nagoya in 1970, with little success. Four years later, Japan’s CEO (Takeshi Okawara) began marketing “Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas.” The reasons for the idea vary; no one really knows for sure. But it was smart thinking and a pretty big gamble, considering that most of the population is not Christian, and Japan doesn’t really celebrate Christmas like many western countries. But it began to take hold…
Little did I know, Kentucky Fried Chicken at Christmas was popular long before I first arrived in 1982. And between then and now- WOW! “Kentucky For Christmas” is a way of life in these parts, beginning from one struggling restaurant in 1970 to over 1,100 outlets throughout Japan now. Online pre-ordering of “Christmas Buckets” starts in November and goes through December. People also don’t mind waiting in line for as long as two hours! Yes, Kentucky Fried Christmas in Japan is huge.
It’s not just “a Christmas thing” now. It’s a highly successful seasonal campaign. Approximately 1/3 of their annual profit is made in November and December. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? KFC at Christmas has become a tradition for much of the population.
Kentucky Fried Classroom
Last week I discussed this blog idea (not yet written) with one of my students, because he knows everything about KFC! He was happy to advise me a bit. To my surprise, the following week he came to my classroom with some Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a “Peanuts” mug that was included with his order. What a nice and thoughtful thing for him to do! Mr. Endo is a strong speaker of English, studying privately with me for over 12 years! Thank you Sir! You are much appreciated!
‘Tis the season of “Kentucky” in Japan! Go get some! Thank you for reading! Merry Christmas everyone, and have a great New Year!
Jim; Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara, Japan. http://smithweb.co.jp/sagamihara/
By The Way…
If you would like to read a little more about my Christmas in Japan last year (2021), it’s right here- Christmas in Sagamihara, Japan
The end of year in Japan is also quite interesting and very different. It was another bit of culture shock for me so many years ago. Here’s a short read about it- End of Year in Japan, Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara