While a KFC bucket of wings and some strawberry cake may be a Japanese way to spend Christmas, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a more spiritual experience.
Attending a Christmas mass or service can be especially comforting for those who are homesick, and Tokyo is home to multiple churches that offer multilingual sermons.
The Tokyo Union Church (www.tokyounion.org) is an ecumenical congregation located in Shibuya Ward that will hold services on both Dec. 24 and 25. And Central Bible Church (www.chuo-seisho.org) in Toshima Ward will host a prayer service with an English interpretation on Dec. 20, a gospel service on Dec. 23 and a candle service on Dec. 24.
Those looking for something less solemn may want to check out Lifehouse Tokyo (tokyo.mylifehouse.com) in Roppongi, which is holding a Christmas Production on Dec. 13 (11 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7p.m.), a caroling service on Dec. 20 (11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.) – complete with after party – and a Christmas Eve Celebration on Dec. 24 (7:15 p.m.).
“We hope to be that, ‘home away from home,'” where people can come and find family,” says Lifehouse spokesperson Kaori Cajudo. “Our church congregation is 70% Japanese, and 30% internationals, and this goes a long way to creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere.”
Lifehouse has branches in Sapporo, Fukuoka, Sendai and throughout Kanagawa Prefecture and the Kansai region, so keep checking the website for other services.
If you’re searching for a place of worship in Osaka, check out Hope Chapel Church (www.hopeosaka.com), which will have a service followed by desserts on Dec. 24. There’s also J-House, which stands for “Jesus House” (www.jhouse.tv). It will hold services on Dec. 20 and 25, but asks that you sign up beforehand. Minoh International Church (www.minohchurch.org) will host a carol service and potluck dinner on Dec. 20 and a candlelight service on Dec. 24, and St. Agnes Church (www.nskk.org/kyoto/stagnes) will hold a 9 a.m. Christmas Day service in English.
In Nagoya, GraceCity Church (www.gracecity.jp) will hold an early Christmas prayer service on Dec. 13 and another service on Dec. 25. Mikokoro International Catholic Center (www.mikokoro.com) will hold both an English Christmas Eve (6 p.m.) and Christmas Day (10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) mass.
Most churches prefer a heads up in case they are preparing food for guests, so whichever place of worship you look into you may want to contact them ahead of time to be on the safe side.