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Nov 15, 2013 05:36 PM

Christmas Foods in Japan?

My third grade son is researching Christmas in Japan. He will need to bring in a Christmas dish. He saw that Kentucky Fried Chicken is popular at Christmas. That would be easy! Are there any other traditional foods you would recommend that an eight year old could reasonably prepare? We live near an international grocery store. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.

    Strawberry shortcake (the kind made with white cake, not the southern US kind)

    Christmas is an imported holiday. Japanese don't really celebrate it except as couples (a 26-year old unmarried woman used to be referred to as "christmas cake" because on the 26th, shops would sell any unsold christmas cakes at half-price). So there isn't really special food aside from KFC and baskin robbins ice cream cake.

    1. Yeah kfc you have to preorder and they aren't open that day because they are filling out all the orders. Christmas cake is the other big thing, where I am ice cream cake isn't so popular, a layered sponge cake with fruit, often strawberries and then iced seems to be more popular.

      Kfc here still has the colonel out front and starting in November the colonel is dressed as Santa, Googling that might make for interesting photos for the class.

      1. make a KFC Christmas Cake! (look for pictures, it's got a log cabin on top)

        1. Oh, what a lot of fun!

          There's a good reason for fast food chicken for Christmas: the big holiday in Japan is New Year's, only a week later, and the end of the month is super-busy with cooking, making mochi, and cleaning to make room for the luck of the new year. Christmas is a big date night for Japanese singles (think Valentine's with jingle bells), and it's a break night for Japanese moms.

          KFC for Christmas has been around at least 20 years, and many other stores have hopped on the bandwagon -- MOS chicken, and some of the convenience stores offer chicken dishes. One of the newer trends is pizza for Christmas -- I think Pizza Hut offers a Christmas special.

          Over-achievers in the Mom Category may make a French Yule Log (chocolate roll cake, decorated like a log with mushroom-shaped chocolate/biscuit candies -- you can find those in markets).Or, a homemade cake (with whipped cream, not frosting) decorated with gelatin Santas and chocolate log houses, and don't forget the candles!

          But most opt for store-bought -- you can get them from bakeries, or convenience stores (even single-serving sizes), or of course Baskin Robbins (aka Sa-ty-Wan -- 31).

          Kids may get a present. It's considered very much a foreign holiday, and a fun way to get some early party-ing in during a rough time.

          You might be able to make a Christmas cake with a vanilla box mix and whipped cream and strawberries.IDK if you can get the decorations at the international grocery store, but you could look. B-day candles and strawberries would be just fine, though. You could make two, because Christmas cakes are quite small, and I'm sure you'd only need a bite per kid. And extra batch of berries could accompany the cake so each kid gets a strawberry.

          (-: But of course, KFC (with red ribbons if you were feeling very Martha Stewart) would be fine and traditional. Lot of food if everyone is bringing something, though.

          I think it's very important to emphasize that New Year's is the big holiday, and Christmas is just for fun. Kind of the reverse of the North American Christmas/New Year's dynamic.

          Have fun!

          1. Assuming that the theme of the class project is "Christmas in Many Lands" rather than "Holidays in Japan," one alternative might be to consult with the teacher about altering the assignment slightly. Traditional New Year's foods in Japan (osechi-ryori) are much more distinctive, and would probably be more interesting and educational as a topic.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Robb S

              Great suggestion, Robb. No doubt getting information on Japanese New Year foods would be a good challenge for students!

              1. re: Robb S

                The class is divided into different groups, each researching a different country. His teacher has expanded the project to "winter holidays", so New Year's celebrations would be very appropriate. I would be happy to hear any more suggestions.

                I don't have great Japanese cooking skills or equipment. I know the store near me has mochi. I'm keeping the KFC and strawberry Christmas cake in mind, too. The student group will have to research on their own and make some plans and help with preparations.

                Thanks again for all the ideas. I've enjoyed reading the discussion.