When Binyomin Edery, the chief rabbi of Japan, was a child growing up in the farming village of Kfar Chabad in Israel, the nine-pronged menorah could be seen everywhere during the winter Hanukkah festival.

So when he arrived in Japan during Hanukkah 18 years ago, he made it his first order of business to persuade National Azabu — an international supermarket in Tokyo's Hiroo neighborhood — to display a menorah along with the store's Christmas tree.

However, with the number of permanent Jewish residents in Tokyo said to hover around a thousand, with another thousand or so spread across the country, the supermarket didn't quite know what to make of the rabbi's request.