Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Japanese Christmas Words

Since it's almost Christmas, I figured I should make a list of Japanese words related to the holidays, including some assorted vocabulary and phrases, too.

Anime Jesus Christ in Christmas, his birthday, eating a Christmas cake as a birthday cake, from the anime movie Saint Oniisan  聖☆おにいさん

Christmas in Japanese

The word Christmas doesn't really get translated to Japanese, it gets loaned to Japanese. That means it's the same word, but katakanized, written with the Japanese alphabet in a way the Japanese can pronounce.
  • kurisumasu クリスマス
  • X-masu Xマス
    ekkusu-masu エックスマス

Note that, in a number of abbreviations and derived words, Christmas becomes just kuri クリ in Japanese.


Just like in America (and probably the rest of the world, too), in Japan Christmas is celebrated every year 25th of December. Below is how that date is written in Japanese:

The same is true for that day just before Christmas.
  • kurisumasu ibu クリスマス・イヴ
    Christmas Eve.
  • jyuu-ni-gatsu ni-jyuu-yon-nichi 12月24日
    jyuu-ni-gatsu ni-jyuu-yokka 12月24日
    Month 12 (December), day 24.

Time & Planning

  • yotei 予定
  • yotei ga nai 予定がない
    To not have plans (for Christmas).
  • jikan to basho 時間と場所
    Time and place.
  • jiki 時期
    Time. Season. (Christmas)
  • yuuru ユール
  • chigai 近い
  • kurisumasu ga chikai クリスマスが近い
    Christmas is near.
  • kurisumasu ga chikadzuku クリスマスが近づく
    Christmas approaches ("coming near").
  • kurisumasu ga chikadzuiteiru クリスマスが近づいている
    Christmas is approaching.
  • kurisumasu ga chikadzuitekita クリスマスが近づいてきた
    Christmas is coming near.
  • kurisumasu ga hajimaru クリスマスが始まる
    Christmas begins.
  • kurisumasu ga owaru クリスマスが終わる
    Christmas ends

Spending Christmas

  • kurisumasu wo sugosu クリスマスを過ごす
    To pass Christmas. To spend Christmas (doing).
  • kurisumasu wo sugoshita クリスマスを過ごした
    To have passed Christmas. To have spent Christmas (doing).
  • isshoni kurisumasu wo sugosu 一緒にクリスマスを過ごす
    To pass Christmas together.
  • tomodachi to kurisumasu wo sugosu 友達とクリスマスを過ごす
    yuujin to kurisumasu wo sugosu 友人とクリスマスを過ごす
    To pass Christmas with your friends
  • koibito to kurisumasu wo sugosu 恋人とクリスマスを過ごす
    To pass Christmas together with your lover.
  • kareshi to kurisumasu wo sugosu 彼氏とクリスマスを過ごす
    To pass Christmas with your boyfriend.
  • kanojo to kurisumasu wo sugosu 彼女とクリスマスを過ごす
    To pass Christmas with your girlfriend.
  • kazoku to kurisumasu wo sugosu 家族とクリスマスを過ごす
    To pass Christmas with your family.
  • kuri-bocchi クリぼっち
    Lone Christmas. Spending it alone.

Merry Christmas

To say merry Christmas in Japanese, you just say:
  • merii kurisumasu メリークリスマス
    Merry Christmas
  • merikuri メリクリ
    (Abbreviated version, used in online messages, etc.)

There are Japanese words for "merry," "cheerful," like youki 陽気. So do people say youki kurisumasu 陽気クリスマス? No. They don't. It's merii kurisumasu メリークリスマス.

It's not really about what it means. It's basically just Japanese people copying what they hear in Hollywood Christmas movies. (no, I'm not even joking. American movies disseminate Christmas culture far better than anything the church has ever done, just like anime does with Japan)

ほらっ サターニャも一緒に!メリークリスマス! はっ!?なんで私まで・・・ メリークリスマスっ メリクリメリクリわっしょいわっしょいメリクリメリクリわっしょいわっしょい うずうず quote from manga Gabriel DropOut ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 20)
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, Gavuriiru Doroppuauto ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 20)
  • hora' Sataanya mo issho ni!
    ほらっ サターニャも一緒に!
    [Come on,] Satania too, [say it] together [with us]!
  • merii kurisumasu!
    Merry Christmas!
  • ha'!? nande watashi made...
    Hah!? Why even I [have to do it too]...
  • merii kurisumasu'
    Merry Christmas
  • merikuri merikuri
    Merry Christmas, merry Christmas
  • wasshoi wasshoi
    (this is an exclamation used in festivals. Doesn't really mean anything. It's like "heave-ho.")
  • (repeat.)
  • uzu uzu
    *itching to do something.* (mimetic word.)
    • Will Satania be able to endure the temptation of Christmas?!
    • Or is she going to say "Merry Christmas" and join her friends?!
    • Read the manga (or watch the anime) to find out!

Happy Hanukkah

Japanese people don't know about Hanukkah. Period.

There aren't Home Alone movies about Hanukkah. No movies = no fame. If your holidays are worth caring about you need a couple of worldwide blockbusters about it. Sure there has to be one person at least who celebrates Hanukkah in Japan, but, generally, people don't know about it, so it's just Christmas.

If you do encounter the phrase below, it'll be in a Japanese article talking about fads in America.
  • happii hanuka ハッピーハヌカ
    Happy Hanukkah.

Happy Holidays

In America there's a weird trend of saying "happy holidays," because... because... I have no idea? It's some stupid phrase someone came up with. What if you commemorate something in July? Nobody says "happy holidays" in July. So what kind of chronological discrimination is this?

Anyway the phrase below is actually used in Japanese (not with the same frequency as merry Christmas, though)
  • happii horidee ハッピーホリデー
    Happy holiday. (preferred)
  • happii horideezu ハッピーホリデーズ
    Happy holidays.

Christmas Stuff

  • kurisumasu kyaroru クリスマスキャロル
    Christmas carol.
  • kurisumasu songu クリスマスソング
    Christmas song.
  • kurisumasu kaado クリスマスカード
    Christmas card.
  • kurisumasu paatyi クリスマスパーティ
    kuripa クリパ
    Christmas party.
  • kurisumasu konseeto クリスマスコンサート
    kurikon クリコン
    Christmas concert.

Jingle Bells

The famous "jingle bells" song would be called jinguru beru ジングルベル in Japanese. Its actual name, ""one-horse open sleigh," would be wan hoosu opun surei ワンホース・オープン・スレイ.

Lyrics in Japanese

This is an English song. There's no such thing as lyrics in Japanese. The best you can get is the katakanized version of the lyrics, which are the same English lyrics but written in a way Japanese people can read.

For example, someone posted their katakana version of Jingle Bells in this Japanese page: ジングルベルの歌詞.

I say their because they literally just listened to the song and wrote down what they thought it sounded like. It's not like there's an official version of this thing. You can find a dozen different katakanizations of this song around the internet.


  • Santa サンタ

Yep. Santa.
  • Santa Kuroosu サンタクロース
    Santa Claus.

Sometimes called with the honorific:
  • Santa-san サンタさん

He lives in the:
  • kita
    North. (cardinal directions)
  • hokkyoku 北極
    North pole. The Arctic.
  • hokkyoku de kurasu 北極で暮らす
    Living by the North Pole.

Where he has a:
  • koujou 工場
    Factory. Workshop.

And employs:
  • yousei 妖精
    Fairies. (a type of, at least)
  • erufu エルフ
    Elf. Elves.
  • kurisumasu erufu クリスマスエルフ
    Christmas elves.

And then he has a list of:

Whom he gives:
  • purezento プレゼント
  • sekitan 石炭

And let's not forget what he drives:
  • sori ソリ
  • sora
  • sora tobu 空飛ぶ
  • sora tobu sori 空飛ぶソリ
    Sky flying sled.

Whose flight is powered by:
  • tonakai トナカイ
    • This comes from the Ainu word tunakkay.
    • If you don't know what an Ainu is, go watch Golden Kamuy.
    • Another word for reindeer is...
  • junroku 馴鹿
    Literally: Tamed Deer.

Santa achieving reindeer powered flight, from anime movie Saint Oniisan

And he enters in houses by the:
  • entotsu 煙突
  • entotsu kara hairu 煙突から入る
    Enter by the chimney. "Enter from the chimney."

Black Santa

There's also the Kuroi Santa 黒いサンタ, or "Black Santa." Which refers to:
  • Kunehito Ruupurehito クネヒト・ループレヒト
    Knecht Ruprecht.

This is a character in the Germanic folklore known in Japan for punishing bad kids, rather than giving gifts to good kids.


The names of the Santa Claus's reindeer in Japanese are as follows:
  1. dasshaa ダッシャー
  2. dansaa ダンサー
  3. puransaa プランサー
  4. vikusen ィクセン
  5. kometto コメット
  6. kyuupiddo キューピッド
  7. donnaa ダンナー
    Donner Dunder. Donder.
  8. burisshen ブリッツェン
    Blitzen. Blixem. Blixen.
  9. rudorufu ルドルフ

Other words and phrases:
  • tonakai トナカイ (kanji: 馴鹿)
  • sora tobu sori wo hiku tonakai 空飛ぶソリを引くトナカイ
    Reindeer pulling sky-flying sled.
    The reindeer that pull the sky-flying sled.
  • aka hana no tonakai 赤鼻のトナカイ
    Red-nose reindeer.
    Red-nosed reindeer.


The names of some traditional Christmas foods:
  • shichimenshou 七面鳥
  • furaido chikin フライドチキン
    Friend chiken.
  • kurisum—
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait, what?

Fried chicken?

Since when is friend chicken a "traditional Christmas food"? Has the world of fast food capitalism and the world of Christmas capitalism collided so hard fast food chains are now traditional? What is going on here???

Well, you see, why do people eat a turkey in Christmas dinner? That's because... it's tradition. And what is Christmas? A tradition. A religious tradition. The Christmas dinner is a very literally a feast of the religious kind, at least it was, originally. A country that doesn't have a long history of Christian religious traditions, such as Japan, ends up eating whatever sounds good for the dinner. In Japan's case, it is, seriously, fried chicken.

(Some articles on the subject: Smithsonian: Why Japan Is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas and Business Insider: how KFC made Christmas all about fried chicken in Japan )

So yeah, they don't eat turkey. They eat fried chicken.
  • kurisumasu keeki クリスマスケーキ
    Christmas cake.
  • kurisumasu pudhingu クリスマスプディング
    Christmas pudding.
  • reebukuuhen レープクーヘン
    Lebkuchen. (German treat)
  • panettoone パネトーネ
    Panettone. (Italian bread)

Christmas Cake Woman

In Japan, the term "Christmas cake," or kurisumasu keeki クリスマスケーキ, may sometimes refer to an unmarried woman above "25 years old," ni-juu-go-sai 25歳.

This is because Christmas cakes are meant to be consumed by Christmas, which is day 25. This idiom implies a woman above 25 years old should have trouble marrying, as she's still "on the shelf" (unmarried) after the best date for purchase.

This term isn't really related to Christmas, it's just a way of saying, but I figured it should be included here anyway.


There are a couple of words for "present" in Japanese:
  • purezento プレゼント
  • gifuto ギフト
  • okurimono 贈り物
    Given thing.
  • omiyage お土産
    Souvenir. ("produce from earth")

They each have their differences and are used in different circumstances. In the case of Christmas, the word preferred comes from the English "present," purezento.
  • kurisumasu purezento クリスマスプレゼント
    kuripure クリプレ
    Christmas present.
  • purezento bokkusu プレゼントボックス
    Present box. Gift box.

Giving & Receiving

There are a few ways to say you're "giving a present" in Japanese, or "receiving a present." First, let's start with the most basic verb:
  • purezento suru プレゼントする
    To give a present. To "present."

The above only works because in Japanese the word purezento is also a verb (to present, to gift). The auxiliary suru means "to do," it does not mean "to give."

Another way of saying it is using the verbs kureru, ageru and morau:
  • purezento wo ageru プレゼントをあげる
    To give a present.
  • purezento wo kureru プレゼントをくれる
    To be given a present. (most of the time)
  • purezento wo morau プレゼントを貰う
    To take a present.

Because these are also auxiliary verbs, they can be combined with purezento suru:
  • purezento shite ageru プレゼントしてあげる
    To present.
  • purezento shite kureru プレゼントしてくれる
    To be presented. (most of the time)

Example Phrases

  • purezento shite kurete, arigatou プレゼントしてくれて、ありがとう
    [For] presenting [me], thanks.
    (very unlikely to be said)
  • purezento arigatou プレゼントありがとう
    Thanks for the present.
    (more likely to be said)
  • kore, ageru yo これ、あげるよ
    This, [I'll] give [to you].
    This is for you. *hands present*
  • purezento wa nani ga hoshii? プレゼントは何が欲しい?
    What [do you] want for present?
  • kattekureta? 買ってくれた?
    [You] bought [it] for [me]?
  • katteageru 買ってあげる
    [I'll] buy [it] for [you].


  • yosan 予算
    Budget. "Expected amount." (to buy the present)
  • kachi 価値
    Value. Worth.
  • nedan 値段
  • kau 買う
    To buy.
  • kattekuru 買ってくる
    To go buy and then come back.
  • kattekita 買ってきた
    To have bought and come back.
  • en
    Yen. Anime money!
  • doru ドル


  • tomodachi 友達
    yuujn 友人
  • koibito 恋人
  • kareshi 彼氏
  • kanojo 彼女
  • okusama 奥様
  • dannasama 旦那様

Common Gifts

The words below are translated to plural, but Japanese plurals don't work the same way they do in English, so the same word (omocha) can be either singular (toy) or plural (toys).

Children & Hobbies

  • omocha おもちゃ
  • ningyou 人形
  • geemu ゲーム
  • hon
  • kyarakutaa guzzu キャラクターグッズ
    "Character goods." Backpacks, etc. with anime characters.
  • dizzuni guzzu ヂッズニーグッズ
    Disney goods. (same as above, but Disney characters)
  • jitensha 自転車
  • sanrinsha 三輪車
  • supootsu youhin スポーツ用品
    Sports goods.


  • irui 衣類
  • fasshon ファッション
  • baggu バッグ
  • saifu 財布
  • fasshon komono ファッション小物
    Fashion accessories.
  • akusesarii アクセサリー
  • ude tokei 腕時計
  • kosume コスメ


  • pea gifuto ペアギフト
    Pair gift.
    A matching item, often given from boyfriend to girlfriend or vice-versa so that both of them wear as a pair.
  • yuumei burando 有名ブランド
    Famous brand (of clothing).
  • yuumei sutoa 有名ストア
    Famous store.


The word for "tree" in Japanese is:
  • ki

However, that's just a normal, everyday tree. The holiday tree is called something else, Englishier:
  • tsurii ツリー
  • kurisumasu tsurii クリスマスツリー
    Christmas tree.

It also has some less common names, based on Christianity:
  • chie no ki 知恵の樹
    Tree of knowledge (of good and evil).
  • seijuu 聖樹
    Holy tree.

Concerning the type of tree the Christmas tree is:
  • jouryoku shokubutsu 常緑植物
    Evergreen plant. "Normally green planted thing."
  • shin'youjuu 針葉樹
  • touhi-zoku トウヒ属
    Spruces family. Picea.
  • matsu-zoku マツ属
    Pines family. Pinus.
  • momi-zoku モミ属
    Firs family. Abies.


The word for decoration in Japanese is:
  • kazari 飾り
    Decoration. Decorations.

And it comes from a verb, so it has all these sibling words:
  • kazaru 飾る
    To decorate.
  • kazari tsukeru 飾り付ける
    To decorate. "To attach decorations."
  • kazari tsuke 飾りつけ
    The act of decorating. The attachment of decorations.

Typical Ornaments

  • oonamento オーナメント
  • tsurii toppu ツリートップ
    Tree-top. Treetopper.
  • hoshi
  • tenshi 天使
  • oonamento booru オーナメントボール
    Ornament ball.
    Christmas baubles.
  • gaarando ガーランド
  • mooru モール
  • ribon リボン
  • beru ベル
  • ringo リンゴ (林檎)
  • kashirui 菓子類
  • kyandhi kein キャンディケイン
    Candy cane.
  • men 綿
    Cotton. (as fake snow)
  • souroku ろうそく (蝋燭)
  • tenshoku 電飾
    Decorative illumination.
  • irumineeshon raito イルミネーションライト
    "Illumination light." (yes, really)
    Lights of [decorative] illumination. Colored lights.
  • kurisumasu irumineeshon クリスマスイルミネーション
    Christmas illumination.

Tree, tree-topper and star in Japanese


Japan is in the northern hemisphere, therefore, in December, when it's Christmas, it is:

And the temperature is:
  • samui 寒い
    tsumetai 冷たい

That is, the the weather is samui, while everything you touch is tsumetai. (samui vs. tsumetai). That means "outside is cold," soto wa samui 外は寒い, but "the wind is cold," can be either kaze wa tsumetai 風は冷たい or kaze wa samui 風は寒い.

When it's cold, it's normal to:
  • furueru 震える
    To tremble (with cold). To quiver.
  • kaze wo hiku 風邪を引く
    To catch a cold.

So it's better to get something:
  • atatakai 暖かいatatakai 温かい
    Warm. (暖かい vs. 温かい)
  • atatakai ie 暖かい家
    Warm house. (not cold like outside)
  • atatakai fuku 暖かい服
    Warm clothes.
  • atatakai ocha 温かいお茶
    Warm tea.
  • atatakai ofuro 温かいお風呂
    Warm bath.
  • atatakai kazoku 温かい家族
    Warm family.


Since it's cold during Christmas, there's a lot of:
  • yuki
    sunoo スノー

Which is often called:
  • shiroi 白い
  • masshiro 真っ白
    Pure white.
  • shiroi, tsumetai yuki 白い冷たい雪
    White, cold snow.
  • shirokute tsumetai yuki 白くて冷たい雪
    White cold snow.
  • masshiro na yuki 真っ白な雪
    Pure white snow.
  • masshiro de tsumetai yuki 真っ白で冷たい雪
    Cold snow that's purely white.

This snow often come from the skies, so:
  • furu 降る
    To rain.
  • yuki ga furu 雪が降る
    The snow rains. (It's raining snow).

Some more snowy terms:
  • masshiro na yuki no youni 真っ白な雪のように
    Like pure white snow. (someone's skin, a character's hair, etc.)
  • yukimichi 雪道
    Snow-covered road. "Snow road."
  • yukigumo 雪雲
    Snow cloud.
  • seppen 雪片
    sunoo fureeku スノーフレーク
    Snow flake.
  • sunoo buranketto スノーブランケット
    Snow blanket.
  • kousetsu 降雪
    Snow fall. "Fall snow."
  • fubuki 吹雪
    Snow storm. "Spew snow."
    (also a certain One Punch Man character's name)
  • hatsuyuki 初雪
    "First snow" of the season.
  • yukidama 雪玉
  • yukinage 雪投げ
    Snowball fight. "Throwing snow."
  • marui 丸い
    Round. Ball-like.

White Christmas & Green Christmas

When it's Christmas Eve or Christmas and it snows it's called a:
  • howaito kurisumasu ホワイトクリスマス
    White Christmas.

And when it does not snow it's called a:
  • guriin kurisumasu グリーンクリスマス
    midori no kurisumasu 緑のクリスマス
    Green Christmas.


  • yukidaruma 雪だるま
    sunooman スノーマン
  • boushi 帽子
    Cap. Hat.
  • mafuraa マフラー
    Muffler. Scarf.
  • me
  • petto botoru no kyappu ペットボトルのキャップ
    Pet bottle's cap.
  • hana
  • ninjin ニンジン
  • kuchi
  • botan ボタン
  • ishikoro 石ころ


As we all know (I think?), Christmas is sort of based on the birth of:
  • iesu kurisuto イエス・キリスト
    Jesus Christ.

The central idea behind:
  • kirisuto-kyou キリスト教

Which is a:
  • shuukyou 宗教
  • kyoukai 教会
    Church. Congregation.

So much that a synonym for "Christmas" in Japanese is:
  • seitansai 聖誕祭
    "Saint," seijin 聖人
    "Birth," tanjou 誕生
    "Festival," matsuri

(which is kind of ironic, because seitan pronounced like "Satan," so the word is kind of also "Satan festival." By the way, Satan is just satan サタン in Japanese, the sa is pronounced like sardine.)

By the way, other holy words for Christmas are:
  • seiya 聖夜
    Holy night. Christmas eve.
  • seika 聖菓
    Holy pastry. Christmas cake.
  • seijuu 聖樹
    Holy tree. Christmas tree.

Christianity in Japan

Japan isn't a particularly Christian country, but they do celebrate Christmas. Because everybody in the world celebrates Christmas. Not because they are christian or because they care about Christ, of course not.

They celebrate it because it's fun.

And there is food.

And you get presents.

So, in Japan, as well as in many other non-Christian countries, even though they do some Christmas stuff in Christmas, people don't really associate the event and the holidays with Christianity. Because, I mean, who could? What does a fat old man in red clothes breaking into homes going after kids have to do with the bible? I don't really see a connection here.

In practice, this means that, while there's a lot of Christians in Christian countries celebrating the birth of Christ in Christmas, there isn't as many in Japan, so you don't really get to see Christian stuff in Christmas with the same frequency you would see the United States or, for example, in Brazil, where I'm from.

(WhyChristmas has a page about Christmas in Japan and other countries)

Christmas expectation vs. reality in Japan

I'm just saying this in case you're wondering why, even though there are so many anime with Christmas episodes, you never see anything Christian related in those episodes, you only see the trees, and decorations, and food, and cake eating, and presents, etc. This would be the why.

1 comment:

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  1. "Just like in America (and probably the rest of the world, too), in Japanese Christmas is celebrated every year 25th of December"

    Hell, no. Unlike catholic heretics we, orthodox christians, celebrate in January, 6th.