Japan couples eye low-key Christmas dates: survey

Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:30pm EST
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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - What's your idea of a romantic Christmas? For Japanese couples it's often dinner and a movie -- yet many will likely forego a big evening on the town this year in favor of a silent night at home, a survey showed.

That's a big change from the go-go days of Japan's bubble economy 20 years ago when couples preferred to splash cash on fancy dinners, go driving and even visit Tokyo Disneyland, according to the survey by Internet research firm Macromill.

Christmas Eve is traditionally a big couples night in Japan and seen as a key romantic event -- akin to Valentine's Day in some countries -- with many women expecting to be wined and dined by their partners in a lavish night on the town.

But Christmas, a mostly secular affair in Japan where businesses stay open as usual, has had a lower-key feel in recent years as couples seek out inexpensive date options in these thrifty economic times.

To compare dating rituals between the generations, Macromill asked single people in their 20s and 30s how they have spent Christmas in the past few years, and asked those over age 40 how they passed the holiday during the years 1986-1990.

Only 39 percent of those in their 20s and 30s have been out for a fancy Christmas dinner, down sharply from 67 percent in the late 1980s for the over-40 group, the survey showed.

Meanwhile, 32 percent in their 20s and 30s have had a "home date" -- cooking and watching a movie at home with their partner -- up from 22 percent in the late 1980s.

And 54 percent of those in their 20s cited staying at home as their ideal Christmas date, far outpacing going to a pricey restaurant (35 percent), shopping for presents (25 percent) and staying at a hotel (13 percent).

Regardless of the economic climate, however, some things never lose their romantic spark. About half of the 20- to 30- somethings have been on recent dates to see Christmas illuminations around town, unchanged from two decades ago.

Macromill conducted the poll in late November. It based the results on a sample of responses from 500 people from the greater Tokyo area in their 20s through their 50s.

(Writing by Chris Gallagher; editing by Elaine Lies)