Despite the fact that only four per cent of Japan's 108 million people are Christians, the more frivolous aspects of Christmas are celebrated every year.
GV Shoppers throng streets
CU ZOOM OUT Giant Santa Claus shaking hands with children (2 shots)
CU Merry Christmas signs (3 shots)
LV & CU INTERIOR Shop decorated for Xmas with customers at counter (2 shots)
GV PAN INTERIOR Decorated store (3 shots)
CU Girl playing organ in shop
CU PAN Toys at feet of giant Father Christmas
Initials BB/1612 MF/MR/BB/1621
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Background: Despite the fact that only four per cent of Japan's 108 million people are Christians, the more frivolous aspects of Christmas are celebrated every year.
Few of the people who indulge in massive gift-buying spending sprees realise that Christmas marks the birth of Christ. It is the commercialised version that has been grafted onto the mainly Buddhist and Shintoist Japanese way of religious life.
The department stores are decked out with tinsel, lights and all the traditional paraphanelia of Christmas. Santa Claus shakes hands with children as in western countries. There is no public holiday on 'Kurisumasu', as Christmas is called in Japan, but many Japanese receive tax-free bonuses at the end of each year that equal the equivalent of up to ten months salary.
It is also the tradition in Japan to give gifts at the end of the year, so shopkeepers have capitalised on this gift-giving, called 'O-Seibo', by exploiting Christmas.