Kentucky Fried Christmas! (VIDEO)
Time-Honored Japanese Christmas Tradition: Kentucky Fried Chicken!
From children to retirees, every Japanese person knows that Christmas is not Christmas without the all-important culinary and cultural traditions: there's the Christmas cake, Christmas sales at your favorite department stores, a romantic Christmas Eve with your special someone (maybe even a proposal), and, naturally, standing in line at "Kentucky" waiting for a bucket of Christmas chicken.
That's right, most Japanese people probably can't find Kentucky on a map, but their GPS will take them directly to the Colonel's secret recipe. Those in the know make their chicken reservations more than a month in advance. If they get in by December 8th, then on Christmas Eve they'll bask in the greasy warmth of the "Party Barrel," which includes 8 pieces of chicken, a Christmas salad, and chocolate nut cake for the low, low price of only ¥3,980 (about US $40). Let's conservatively say 10 million Barrels of chicken at $40 each equals... oh, oh wow.
Powerful Chicken Marketing
The commercialization of Christmas in the U.S. has nothing on the Kentucky Fried marketing genius of KFC Japan. It's pretty safe to say that J-KFC Christmas campaigns, going strong for about 40 years now, are one of the most directly causal factors - if not the primary - in popularizing a yearly holiday with effectively zero relevance to traditional Japanese culture.
While Christmas in the U.S. still has to hang on to a certain religious pretense, in Japan it's full-blown, out-of-the-closet consumerism; it's harmless, and arguably quite a bit more honest. Given that there are but a tiny handful of Christians in Japan, and Japanese society at large has only had the opportunity to be aware of Christmas for about 60 years or so, the holiday's acceptance and integration into pop culture is a rather impressive example of large-scale cultural engineering.
So, well done, KFC! There might not be a whole lot of turkey here, but Haruka Ayase, the lovely young woman in the video, now in her third year as the Kentucky Christmas Chicken Girl, has another bird to sell - and she does it oh so well.