The Extra Mile: ケンタッキークリスマス

I’m not Christian, but the music and Yuletide traditions have a soft spot in my heart of hearts. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I grew up outside of New York City, so for my family, heading into Manhattan to see the tree at Rockefeller Center was the best go-to for the holidays. Christmas in America is the consumerism capital. I’ve been drinking the cool-aid since my second grade class trip. But, on this particular Christmas season, I wanted to switch it up and fly to Tokyo, a place I never imagined I’d be for the holidays. This was my second trip to Tokyo in 2019 and I looked at it as a dope opportunity to explore the city further. Jess and I spent the first week of December taxiing around Tokyo, visiting all the “must-see” attractions first. There was a noticeable amount of “Christmas cheer” around Tokyo, and I dug the vibe. Way better than Christmas in Los Angeles.

So, eating KFC food as a Christmas time meal has become a widely practiced custom in Japan. As of 2019, in Japan, Christmas sales of KFC made around Christmas Eve account for nearly five per cent of annual revenue. The reason why? Christmas in Japan had no widespread tradition or cultural popularity, until 1970, when Takeshi Okawara—manager of the first KFC restaurant in Japan—began promoting fried chicken “party barrels” as a Christmas meal. This move was intended to serve as a substitute for the traditional American turkey dinner, which isn’t a popular food in Japan. 

KFC Japan expanded the promotion nationwide in 1974 with its “Kentucky is Christmas” (クリスマスはケンタッキー) and “Kentucky Christmas” (ケンタッキークリスマス) advertising campaign. With that said, I had to grab a Christmas party barrel of chicken with my homies to celebrate Christmas the Japanese way.

We grabbed some drinks near Tokyo Opera City and spent the night out with our friends from Buddy Buddy.

I always talk about my morning Joe (or Jodi), it’s been my daily ritual for the last decade. I like to sip coffee the European way. I like that they take their time to finish it. I don’t rush through my morning brew anymore. If it doesn’t come in a ceramic mug – it’s not for me. So I found a chill restaurant not too far from where we were staying in Shibuya. They had great coffee and breakfast. In the pic above you can see they threw a cinnamon stick on top of my “hazernut” latte. That’s how it was spelled on the menu, “hazernut.” I had to say it aloud and think about it.

It was later in the week, Friday to be exact, and my homey Eddie flew in to meet us for the weekend. He had just gone to Indonesia and back to NYC earlier that week, but managed to troop out another 14 hour flight to Japan. So we all packed up and took a train near our airbnb in Shibuya. We arrived at Harajuku station (above) to visit Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine(below).

The Meiji shrine was dedicated to the Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of modern Japan. It was completed in 1920, eight years after he died. The original shrine was destroyed by U.S. firebombing during the Second World War. The current shrine was funded through a public fund raising effort and finished in October 1958.

After spending hours in the park we left for dinner that evening. We decided on some traditional Japanese cuisine (which is NOT Sarku Japan).

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