Christmas is an increasingly popular festival in Japan. As soon as the Halloween jack-o-lanterns disappear, the Christmas trees pop up and carols fill the air signaling the start of the now-2-month long Christmas season. But, as a new report from Rakuten Research highlights, Japan has made Christmas all its own. You see, at Christmas time in Japan, it’s romance that’s in the frosty air.

Christmas is one of the busiest seasons for Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan, where fried chicken has become a holiday season staple.

Christmas is one of the busiest seasons for Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan, where fried chicken has become a holiday season staple.

For first-time travelers to Japan around the Christmas holidays, the dearth of hotel vacancies is both surprising and inconvenient. But for Japan’s rapidly growing throngs of tourists, there is quite a bit of good news: Firstly, the lack of hotel rooms is primarily confined to one day – Christmas Eve – which is the reigning king of romantic holidays in Japan, rivaled only by Valentine’s Day. Second, it appears that this year they’ll have less competition for bookings than usual.

Rakuten Research polled 1,000 men and women aged 20 to 69 from around Japan – and 20% of them reported that they planned to spend Christmas alone. The percentage was even higher among women and men in their 20s, with 25.8% saying they would be alone. While Christmas Day is not a statutory holiday in Japan, this year it falls on a weekend, meaning that work won’t be an impediment to getting into the Christmas spirit for most this year. And yet, when asked what they planned to do to celebrate the holiday, 46.3% of respondents said they’d just “spend the day as usual.” Despite – or perhaps because of – the ubiquity of Christmas in Japan, it appears that not everyone is buying into the hype.

Viewing Christmas lights like these is another popular pastime in Japan.

Viewing Christmas illumination displays is another popular seasonal pastime in Japan.

Despite this apparent apathy, one jolly, white-haired gentleman not usually associated with Christmas remains extremely popular: Colonel Sanders. Rakuten Research found that fried or roasted chicken topped the list of foods people wanted to eat over Christmas (with 53%), followed closely by Christmas Cake (52.8%). Chalk it up to brilliant marketing by KFC in Japan. Beginning in the 1970s, Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas and its addictive jingle have become as synonymous with the holiday as, well, jingle bells. In fact, KFC is such a popular tradition that eager patrons need to reserve their meal a month in advance or risk missing out entirely because – on Christmas Eve, at least – most outlets sell out. You read that right: Kentucky Fried Chicken sells out – of chicken!

Japan’s demographic time bomb is well-documented, with prominent reports now documenting an apparent disinclination among young people to date. This is certainly disappointing news for the romantics among us, but at least there is still hope to spend time with loved ones over the holiday season. In Japan, it might mean just waiting one more week for the New Year’s holiday, when families traditionally gather together to enjoy quality time and great food.

However you might spend the holidays, Rakuten.Today wishes you and yours a safe and memorable season.