Although Christmas is not a formal, nationally recognized holiday in Japan, the Japanese culture has adopted the season’s traditions and spirit over time. Cities celebrate Christmas through festivals and special events, and citizens celebrate the season with sentiment, presents and, of course, food.

Here are 15 unique Japanese Christmas traditions that exemplify the creativity of the culture as well as the magic of the Japanese celebration of the season.

1. Special Christmas Model 'Cup Fuchiko'



Christmas in Japan

A Christmas edition of the toy figurines designed to hang on the rim of any cup. More than 6.5 million of the popular trinkets have been sold through vending machines. Seven Christmas versions of Fuchiko have been released, dressed as Santa, as a Christmas tree and more. 

2. Christmas-look Jizo



Christmas in Japan

The stone statues of Jizo, the guardian deity of children, trades his regular red attire with a Santa suit at a temple in Kamakura renowned for its hydrangeas. The care shown for the statues by the locals is evident; the warm scarves and capes suit the little statues. Photographs by Madam Sakurako.

3. Christmas Character Bento Boxed Meal



Christmas in Japan

Character bento has moved beyond being a fad to become an established genre within Japanese boxed meals. Specialist Asami has created character bento with a Christmas theme. Pasta is used to hold the parts in place. Amazing! 

4. Tokyo Skytree Town Illumination 2014



Christmas in Japan

Tokyo Skytree Town is displaying Christmas illuminations until Dec. 25, including the world's tallest Christmas tree —the Tokyo Skytree. Other illuminations use around 500,000 LED lights and projection mapping.

5. Osaka Castle 3D Projection Mapping Super Illumination



Christmas in Japan

Nishinomaru Garden at Osaka Castle is staging spectacular 3D projection mapping throughout the Christmas season. The highlight is the display on the tower of Osaka's famous castle.

6. Christmas Bonsai



Christmas in Japan

Japanese ceramic artist Mina has used sandalwood and Gaultheria to create this beautiful Christmas bonsai encapsulating a Japanese essence blended with the spirit of Christmas in elegant natural forms.

7. Christmas Anime Car Festival



Christmas in Japan

A Christmas Anime Car Festival was held in the home of anime, Akihabara, in 2012. Anime cars customized with cartoon designs and cosplay enthusiasts converged en-masse from all over Japan.

8. Christmas Japanese Sweets Made with Selected Ingredients



Christmas in Japan

Master Confectioner Sanseido has created delicate Japanese sweets named Christmas Eve. This five-piece Christmas treat set includes a sweet kinton paste tree, a molded Santa Claus and bean bun reindeer made with carefully selected ingredients. 

9. Japanese-style Pop-up Christmas Greeting Card



Christmas in Japan

These cards incorporate cool Japanese designs of famous sights including Mt. Fuji, Kinkakuji Temple, Sensoji Temple and Osaka's Dotonbori. They would make the perfect card to send to friends overseas.

10. Ikebana Christmas Tree



Christmas in Japan

These ikebana Christmas trees, which feature a modern flare using Ping Pong Mum chrysanthemums, were created by Gotou Kakutetsu, the second master of the Soushinryu School of Ikebana.

11. Uji Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Christmas Cake



Christmas in Japan

Itohkyuemon, a long-established tea purveyor in Kyoto has produced a "Chocolat thé verte" using local powdered green tea. The cake contains matcha mousse with adzuki beans and raspberry sauce, decorated with matcha chocolate cream.  

12. Sagamiko Illumilion



Christmas in Japan

Lake Sagami in Kanagawa prefecture hosts an illumination display featuring 5 million LED lights. It is the largest display of its kind in the Kanto region. Highlights include the Light Palace and Grand Garden. The Light Palace uses 1 million LED along with bubbles and fountains in a marvelous water and light show.  

13. Christmas Sushi Cake



Christmas in Japan

This is no ordinary cake. It's a Christmas Sushi Cake, decorated with none other than sashimi. The popular cakes are the limited-edition creation of Shime Sushi restaurant in Fukuoka. 

14. Nabana no Sato Winter Illuminations



Christmas in Japan

Nabana no Sato in Mie prefecture holds winter illuminations every year. The showcase display is a 20-meter LED Niagara Falls. Video of the illumination can be viewed online, and astonished viewers from overseas commented that they were much more extravagant than any religious ceremonies held in the West.

15. Christmas Ramen



Christmas in Japan

Senrigan is a popular ramen noodle restaurant in Higashikitazawa, Tokyo. Their ramen is based on a soy sauce broth topped with a mountain of bean sprouts and chili-flavored tempura crumbs, looking like a Christmas tree. This photo was posted by the restaurant manager last Christmas.