22 Traditional Japanese Christmas Food

Japanese Christmas Food
Image credit: byfood.com

Today, December 25th also happens to be the birthday of one of Japan’s most beloved characters, Santa Claus! Unfortunately, it seems this fact isn’t widely known outside of Japan.

This is because even Japanese-speaking foreigners are likely to have never heard of Japanese Christmas food… until now! 

Nonetheless, that’s why we are for you! In this article, we’ll look at the top traditional Japanese Christmas food and snacks you can only find in Japan during December!

1. Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is a staple of the Western diet, but it’s also a favorite Japanese Christmas food. Fried chicken has many different names in Japan, depending on where you’re from.

In Nagoya, it’s called karaage (茶らげ) or tsukune (つくね). In Tokyo and Osaka, it’s called tempura (天ぷら), and in Hokkaido, it’s called karappo (カラップ). 

However, the one thing that all these variations have in common is that they are all deep-fried! In addition to the usually fried chicken strips, this recipe includes a few other goodies like bacon and green onion.

2. Honey Castella

Honey castella is a Japanese Christmas food and a sponge cake that was first created in Japan. Castella is a traditional Japanese sponge cake originating from the Portuguese word pão de Leite, which translates to the bread of milk.

This is because castella contain milk and eggs, which are beaten together until they form a thick, almost custard-like consistency. 

Further, the batter is then poured into individual molds or one large tin. It’s usually baked in an oven at 170°C (338°F) for around 20 minutes. But this can vary depending on the recipe and size of the baking tin used.

3. Yule Log

The yule log, or Choi-Kashi, is a cake that is traditionally served as Japanese Christmas food. One popular legend behind the tradition says that the logs were used to keep people warm in their houses, especially when there was a shortage of firewood. 

As for the cake’s flavor, it is often filled with red bean paste and cream cheese frosting. Mochi (sticky rice cakes) are also eaten on Christmas Eve as part of a traditional feast known as osechi-ryouri. Other foods include chestnuts, hamonade, and deep-fried fish cakes known as taiyaki.

4. Japanese Candy Strawberries

Although these look like the red and white candies you may have seen in your local grocery store, they are actually a type of strawberry that is grown in Japan.

They are not only delicious but also come with a long history. In fact, some people believe that these were the original strawberries from which all other types of strawberries are derived! 

But this treat is even more special because it has been made into a dessert for Christmas for the past 300 years.

When you bite into one of these sweet and juicy berries, you’ll find that the inside is covered with sugar and honey for an extra sweet flavor! This is a Japanese Christmas food that you are bound to love!

5. Mochi

Mochi is a traditional Japanese Christmas food that’s enjoyed year-round, but it’s especially popular during the holiday season. It can be round or square and can be filled with sweet bean paste or other flavors like green tea.

Traditionally, this dish is made by pounding rice into a sticky dough, then steaming or boiling it to form a chewy treat.

The mochi is then shaped into various forms and served with toppings such as soy sauce, maple syrup, dried fruit, or nuts.

6. Warm Sake

Many traditional foods are associated with Christmas in Japan, but not all are well known. Warm sake is one such Japanese Christmas food.

Made from rice and yeast, warm sake is simmered in a pot to produce a sweet and fragrant liquid. 

Often, it’s made with different ingredients like ginger or star anise to give it extra flavor. In Japan, the drink is served warmly because of the cooler weather at this time of year.

The tradition dates back at least 500 years and is considered by many to be the most popular alcoholic beverage during winter celebrations in Japan.

7. Punch With Yuzu Juice

Yuzu is a citrus fruit originating in East Asia. It has a sharp, acidic taste and is often used in Japanese cuisine to give food a tangy flavor. The juice of the yuzu is often added to dishes as an accent instead of lemon or lime juice.

This is because its sourness makes it more suitable for use with seafood than citrus juices. The yuzu-citrus-cured mackerel (saba zuke) recipe includes the juice of one whole yuzu.

This gives the dish a natural tanginess without overpowering the mackerel’s light taste. We are just getting started with the Japanese Christmas food list. Read on!

8. Chanmery Sparkling Juice

Chanmery sparkling juice is a great, unconventional choice for a Christmas drink. It’s fruity, refreshing, and fun to mix things up at your next holiday party. 

Plus, Chanmery can be found in convenience stores around the country, but it’s often sold out this time of year. If you cannot find it near you, try ordering it online instead! Nevertheless, it is regarded as a sumptuous Japanese Christmas food.

9. Sake Sangria

Sake Sangria is a new twist on a traditional Christmas drink. It’s light, refreshing, and perfect for the holiday season.

The red wine in the recipe is not strictly necessary but gives the drink an extra kick that makes it taste closer to sangria than just plain sake.

This sake sangria recipe is easy to make and can be put together quickly. Consequently, making it perfect for last-minute holiday parties or gatherings with family and friends.

10. Wagashi

Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets with a long history. They are usually made from rice flour, sugar, and other ingredients and can be found in all shapes, colors, and flavors. Wagashi were originally given to guests as a sign of welcome.

However, it became a tradition during the winter season when they were eaten as a dessert after the feast of thirteen delicacies on December 23rd.

The word wagashi literally means Japanese confectionary or Japanese sweet. There are many kinds of wagashi that you might find interesting, so you should try out this Japanese Christmas food!

11. Christmas Cake

Christmas cake is a more well-known Japanese Christmas food associated with Christmas. However, many other foods are commonly eaten on Christmas in Japan.

Many of these dishes have deep Christian and Buddhist roots, which is interesting considering Japan’s traditional religion is Shintoism. 

Going further, some examples of these include Kagami mochi, a rice cake usually wrapped in a bamboo leaf. Osechi ryori, a selection of food that changes depending on the region and season; and senbei, rice crackers.

12. Miso Soup

Miso soup is a traditional and popular dish in Japan. The soup typically contains dashi, miso paste, and various other ingredients such as wakame seaweed, tofu, scallions, or egg. 

Usually, it’s served in individual bowls so guests can enjoy the same kind of soup. Miso soup is typically eaten at the beginning of a meal to cleanse the palate before eating heavier dishes such as sushi or ramen noodles.

If you are looking for Japanese Christmas food, why not try Miso soup? Trust me; your guests will be super impressed.

13. Fruit Salad With Yuzu Lemon

It’s one of the most important days of the year for many people. While you may be familiar with many different dishes and traditions associated with Christmas dinner, there are still some unusual ones you might not have heard of. Fruit salad with yuzu lemon is one such Japanese Christmas food. 

When it comes to Japanese food, this is a very traditional dish that’s typically served during the winter season.

The main ingredients include watermelon, orange, grapefruit, apple slices, and mandarin oranges. A little bit of salt is sprinkled on top, and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice and yuzu juice.

14. Potato Salad

Potato salad is a common dish to be eaten during the holidays in the United States, but how about Japan? Definitely, this is likewise a great Japanese Christmas food you don’t want to miss out on.

15. Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki is a very popular Japanese Christmas food to be eaten during this time of year. This is an egg dish made from eggs and soy sauce. 

Typically, it’s layered into a rectangular shape and topped with mayonnaise and green onions. Rest assured, you will get all you desire from this dish!

16. Kuromame

The next popular food item is kuromame, which is fried black beans. Think about the best Japanese Christmas food you’ll ever have in your lifetime; think about Kuromame! It’s often served with rice for breakfast or as a side dish. Also it can be eaten on its own as well.

17. Vegetable Tempura

Vegetable tempura is one of the most popular dishes served as a traditional Japanese Christmas food. It consists of deep-fried vegetables, shrimp, and other ingredients in a crispy batter. 

Additionally, Vegetable tempura can be eaten as an appetizer or as a main dish, with soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horseradish) dipping sauces. This dish is popularly served alongside oden, soba noodles, and miso soup.

18. Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet that’s traditionally eaten as a Japanese Christmas food. In Japan in the 19th century, Tonkatsu was invented and usually served with rice, miso soup, shredded cabbage, and tsukemono (Japanese pickles).

The dish became a popular meal to eat on Christmas Eve. Tonkatsu is usually served with rice, miso soup, shredded cabbage, and tsukemono (Japanese pickles).

Tonkatsu became a popular meal to eat on Christmas Eve because it didn’t take too long to prepare. The modern-day tonkatsu recipe was first published in the book Rekizui Shinjidai in 1896.

19. Ganmodoki

The next popular Japanese Christmas food is Ganmodoki. These are deep-fried pieces of tofu coated with panko bread crumbs and then cooked in a frying pan. Baked ganmodoki is also available in some places, but deep-fried ones are the most popular. 

Traditionally served as a side dish to go with dinner on December 25th, they’re often simmered or fried before serving to add flavor. They’re especially popular among children because they’re shaped like little balls.

20. Cream Stew

Cream stew is a relatively new dish in Japan, originating in the early 1900s. The dish is a winter variation of the cream soup or cream stew typically eaten on hot summer days.

It was originally called milk soup because it was made with milk instead of water and thickened with flour or cornstarch. Nowadays, it has come to be known as a cream stew.

The recipe for this Japanese Christmas food varies depending on the region. But potatoes are typically added in some form to give the dish more substance.

Some recipes call for only potatoes, while others use potatoes and carrots together (or any other combination of vegetables).

21. Pizza

You might be familiar with Pizza already, but did you know it is a popular Japanese Christmas food too? Pizza has been around since the 1800s, but it’s only recently become popular in Japan.

It’s often considered a Western dish, but there are many pizza restaurants in Japan now. Pizza is eaten at all times of the year, not just on Christmas Eve. 

I like the idea of eating pizza on Christmas Eve because I think it would be really festive and fun. This is eating something different instead of the same old dishes we usually have on other days during the year.

I love cooking, so I’m sure that if there were ever an opportunity for me to make some pizzas for my family and friends on December 24th, I would jump at it!

22. Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi is a sushi dish containing various ingredients such as boiled shrimp, crab, and vegetables served over rice. The dish is most commonly eaten during New Year celebrations in Japan. 

In addition, it has become a part of many celebratory meals, including weddings, birthdays, and Christmas, in recent years.

The name chirashi literally means scattered, which refers to how the ingredients are scattered over rice. Rather than rolled into a ball like other types of sushi. This delicious Japanese Christmas food wraps up our list!


Many of these traditional Japanese Christmas dishes are eaten not just on December 25th but rather on December 24th, known as Kurisumasu.

It is believed that the reason for this is that it was a time when the people were still impoverished and unable to afford enough food. Families would share everything they had with one another to survive this difficult time.

Talking about  Japanese Christmas food that you may not have heard of before, the list is well noted above. With Christmas coming in less than two weeks, we thought it would be the perfect time to prepare you with traditional Japanese Christmas food you probably never heard of.

Check out this list of the unusual treats that are considered must-haves on a holiday table back home in Japan!

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