Does Japan Celebrate Easter?
The answer to that question is, yes and no. Japan does not have a strong Christian or Catholic background, with the primarily religions here being Shinto and Buddhism. However, Japan does love all things Kawaii and that’s what Easter has evolved into these days. Bunnies, colorful eggs, and egg hunts on beautiful spring days (sometimes coinciding with cherry blossom season!).
Stores like Daiso will sell some basic baskets and plastic eggs for putting together a quick egg hunt for the kids. While hotel buffets may take advantage of the occasion by having a themed event. Think, Peter Rabbit, but with a lot of desserts.
If you’re looking for a more traditional, religious Easter experience in Japan you should research churches in your area. The Christian and Catholic communities in Japan are small, but they do exist.
Celebrating Easter as an Expat
Expat life can be hard. Poland and America are both really far from Japan, so I don’t really get to go home often. When I do, I sadly have to choose one or the other. On holidays that were a big deal back home I can really feel that loneliness and sense of loss start to creep in.
What really helps, I have found, is keeping up with those traditions in any small way you can. Easter was always a big deal in my family, and though we were Catholic in name only, it was the one day a year we would go to church to get our Easter basket’s blessed. In my memories these days were always sunny, with blue skies. Mass never seemed so long, and everyone was smiling, peeking at their neighbors baskets – which were decorated with the best linens as well as fresh flowers.
When I got older Easter was not much different from Thanksgiving. The table was set, and we all sat around it, with the porch windows open and letting in the fresh air and early spring sunlight. At some point someone would break out the vodka and then it became a real party which…is not exactly conventional, but it was home!
When I first moved to Japan five years ago, homesickness set in hard around Easter. Everyone would be there, in my home, at my table, except for me. Baskets would be decorated, eggs would be colored, and life would go on, without me.
I was too down about it to do anything myself but luckily I had an amazing boyfriend who stepped in with a very unique Easter basket.
Polish Easter Traditions: Pisanki and Sugar Lambs
Since that time I have tried to be more proactive about keeping up with traditions. This year I actually made Pisanki (the Polish word for decorated eggs). I didn’t use food coloring or do any painting..instead I used these nifty colorful plastic sheets which will fit snugly over the egg when immersed in boiling water.
I also had a sugar lamb, which is a regular member of a Polish Easter basket, sent from my mom.
When I was a kid I used to love licking these sugar lambs. They would get so wet and sticky which seems unbearable to me as an adult but apparently hit the spot for young me! Today’s spread was accompanied by a cheese and meat plate, butter, and brown bread. That’s what screams Easter brunch to me, how about you?
If you’re an expat do you try to keep up with your home country’s traditions?