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Tweet of the Week #104: Store’s Ad for Christmas Chicken Is Confusing

Ordering Christmas chicken shouldn't be this difficult.

By 3 min read

The spooky Halloween season hasn’t faded away yet that Japanese stores are launching their Christmas food order to fill your home with welcoming festive aromas and more importantly: stress-free celebrations.

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that Christmas in Japan is different from what you know. After all, this is a country which banned Christianity for much of its history. Nonetheless, Japanese people’s love for everything American during the post-war period and adopted with enthusiasm the Christmas traditional meal… With a twist.

Fried chicken and fluffy cream-filled sponge cakes!

Whereas Western countries traditionally treat themselves to a feast, including turkey, pie and stuffing on the menu, Japanese people eat KFC for Christmas. They even have to place their order weeks in advance.

Along with the now “traditional” fried chicken, most folks in Japan like to end their Christmas meals with cakes covered with cream and strawberries — and you have to reserve your cake, too. So early, in fact, that stores start advertising their cakes in October.

Takana-san, what did you do?

When it comes to advertising, Japanese businesses can be a bit frugal. Why pay someone to design an expensive poster when you can print something out and stick it on your window?

Well, it would have avoided being made fun of on the internet after being spotted by @shirayukishiro earlier this month.

https://twitter.com/shirayukishiro/status/1317745533033721861?s=20

クリスマスケチってなんだろう…???
え?あ、そうだよね、横読よこよみだよね。ケキキチーンか。……ケキキチーン!!?ってなった。
今日きょう1日いちにちたくさんわらったな〜とおもったんだけど最後さいごったコンビニでトドメをされました

=

“What the heck is Christmas Cachi?!? What? Oh, I see. I should have read it vertically. Cakikichin…Cakikichin?!?
I’ve been laughing all day today, but my last stop at the convenience store gave me a final blow.”

What makes it so confusing?

On the now buzzing poster, we can read:

  • クリスマス  (Christmas)                  ケキキ (????)
  • 予約よやくうけたまわちゅう(Orders are open)        チーン (????)

However, if you look at it horizontally (縦横たてよ) or vertically (横読み), something’s definitely wrong with the Katakana on the right side. We should be able to read ケーキ (cake) and チキン (chicken).

Because Twitter is pure magic, someone kindly went ahead and created a jingle ad for what shall now and forever be named “Christmas Caki” and “Christmas Chikikin.”

本当ほんとうたすかりました

=

“That was really useful!”

Keen to learn more? Read our What’s Christmas like in Japan article!

Key vocabulary to talk about Christmas in Japan

Let’s keep things light this week and refresh our memory with a quick list of common Japanese words to talk about Christmas. 

The only hack you really need to know to talk about Christmas in Japanese is that you can add the word クリスマス to a lot of words, and they’ll take a festive turn!

  • クリスマスケーキ = Christmas cake
  • クリスマスチキン = Christmas chicken
  • クリスマスプディング = Christmas pudding
  • クリスマスプレゼント = Christmas gift
  • クリスマスを過ごす = to spend Christmas; with friends, family or as it’s common in Japan, with your partner!
  • クリスマスデート = Christmas date
  • クリスマスパーティ = Christmas party; If you want to sound like a native, you can shorten to ‘クリパ’
  • クリスマスコンサート = Christmas concert; here again, Japanese like to shorten words ‘クリコン’
  • クリスマスツリー = Christmas tree

Here are a few classics for the season:

  • キャンディケイン = Candy cane
  • サンタクロース = Santa Claus
  • トナカイ = Reindeer
  • ジングルベル = jingle bells
  • Not so classic, but a good expression to know to sound like a local:
  • クリぼっち = From Christmas and “alone,” which means spending Christmas alone. 🙁

If you want to learn more new words, check our quick guide to Japanese Christmas words.

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
横読よこよ yoko yomi read vertically
縦横たてよ tateyomi read horizontally
最後さいご saigo last
とどめを todome o sasu finish (somebody) off
とどめをされる todome o sasareru receive a finishing blow

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