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A guide to building a marketing calendar during winter in Japan (Oct-Dec)

Japanese seasonal strategy

Creating a marketing strategy that works well throughout the year requires marketers to consider multiple factors. For example, in Japan, there are a variety of seasonal events as well as cultural nuances to the celebration of holidays also celebrated elsewhere.  This means seasonal campaigns that work well in one country may not work quite so well in Japan.. Incorporating local traditions and organizing marketing activities around regional events is a great strategy when putting together a well-planned marketing calendar for any market. In order to do so successfully, it is important to fully understand the local market and grasp the differences from other markets.

In this guide, we take a look at the final months of the year in Japan. With the temperature gauge dropping and the days getting shorter, the period between October and December is a time for end-of-year reflection and preparations for New Year’s Day – one of the most important holidays in Japan.

October: exercise, dress-up, and leaf hunting

Important dates:

  • Sports Day (Tai-iku no Hi) – 2nd Monday of October (national holiday)
  • Halloween – 31st October
Theme Keywords
Momiji Season
Just like with pink cherry blossom in spring, Japan is  covered in red leaves in autumn. Momiji (red maple leaves) are particularly spectacular during this season.
People participate in momijigari – the ‘red leaf hunt’, a custom of admiring the surrounding scenery by taking walks among the autumn trees. This passing beauty of nature has been an inspiration for artists and poets for centuries. It also attracts tourists. With large numbers of tourists expected following the pandemic, it is likely there will be an increased number of visitors travelling to the best momiji spots around the country this year. Maple-shaped cakes and deep-fried maple leaf tempura snacks will be available to purchase. People may also be taking autumn holidays around the middle of the month. 
– momiji in xx (area name)
– best time to see Momiji
– momiji season
– momiji illustration
– weekly weather forecast
Sports Day 
This is a Japanese national holiday which falls on the second Monday of October. It was first observed in 1966, marking the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. It promotes exercise and an active lifestyle. Despite it being a national holiday, many schools and organisations decide to hold sport related events throughout the day. Sport equipment, gym memberships, and healthy foods can see a rise in popularity during this time.
– Sports Day outfit/clothes
– Sports Day lunch box recipe
– Sports Day camera
Fall wedding season
In Japan, many couples decide to get married in October. Rainfall or hot weather is unlikely, and saying ‘yes’ among the beauty of red leaves can feel truly magical. Wedding venues, bridal stores, and food vendors can expect an increased amount of traffic throughout the whole month, until the middle of November.
– fashion (40s / 50s / men’s)
– popular straightener 
– xx (manufacturer’s name) straightener
– popular wedding ring- wedding ring price
– xx (manufacturer’s name) wedding ring 
Feeling spooky? Just like in many countries around the world, Japanese people celebrate Halloween. It is, however, celebrated differently in each region and, rather than traditional trick-or-treating, people dress up and take to the streets to party. Manga & anime characters, monsters, TV show & movie heroes are usually among the most popular costumes. Halloween-themed costumes, make-up and accessories start appearing in stores like Daiso or Don Quijote from the beginning of the month, and many cafes and restaurants release limited-time ‘spooky’ menus.
– Halloween sweets recipe
– Halloween children
– Halloween decorations
– Halloween handmade
– Halloween illustrations
– Halloween pumpkin


November: winter is coming & ‘7-5-3 ceremony’ 

Important dates:

  • Culture Day (Bunka no Hi) – 3rd November (national holiday)
  • Shichi Go San – 15th November
  • Labour Thanksgiving Day (Kinrō Kansha no Hi) – 23rd November (national holiday)
Theme Keywords
Shichi Go San
(7-5-3 ceremony)This is a day when parents celebrate their children, being grateful for their growth and wishing them good luck for the future. Considered to be a rite of passage, it is usually for 3 and 7 year old girls, as well as 3 and 5 year old boys (these specific ages are to do with tradition). During this time families dress in traditional clothing and visit local Shinto shrines. Kimono shops and rentals, as well as accessories and hair salons are in high demand
during this time. 
– 7-5-3 rental
– 7-5-3
photo studio
– 7-5-3 family clothes
– 7-5-3 kimono rental
– 7-5-3 hair ornament
– 7-5-3 celebration
Winter is coming
With winter just around the corner, people start gearing up for lower temperatures. The newest winter fashion and clothing, like coats, are what people will be searching for. In contrast to the extremely humid rainy season, Japanese winters are quite dry. Humidifiers are frequently at the top of shopping lists for many during this time, and are placed in bedrooms and living areas around the house. Despite coming out of the pandemic, people are still in a state of high alert. Winter brings an increased possibility of catching a cold, so sales of all sorts of anti-infection precautions, from hand sanitisers to vitamin boosts, can expect an increase.
– Humidifier
– humidifier baby
– humidifier how
to care
– humidifier desk
– coat from when
– fashionable coat
– duffle coat
– down jacket xx(brand name)
– ladies down
– knit hat
– scarf (how to tie)
– full face mask
End-of-year gift giving 
In Japan, people tend to exchange gifts twice a year: in summer (o-chugen), and at the end of the year (o-seibo). O-seibo is usually given between the middle of November and the middle of December. Gifts are usually given to friends, family, colleagues, or teachers. During this time, a lot of stores prepare special gift sets and arrangements. Gifts do not need to be expensive – as they symbolise gratefulness and it is the thought and presentation that matter the most.
– o-seibo period
– o-seibo until
– popular o-seibo


December: Christmas & New Year

Important dates:

  • Winter Solstice – 22nd December 
  • Christmas Day – 25th December
  • New Year’s Eve – 31st December
Theme Keywords
The beginning of December means the peak of Christmas sales and preparations. Like Halloween, although Christmas is not a Japanese tradition, it has become highly popular across the country due to Anglo-American influence. Christmas sales are a common occurrence, and many brands organize seasonal promotions, just in time for the end-of-year bonus.
Christmas markets, red and green decorations, and Santa Claus with his reindeers are now a part of Japanese culture. Winter light festivals are hugely popular, with illuminating installations spread throughout the country. Other popular activities include visiting Tokyo Disneyland for the Christmas Parade and eating strawberry shortcake.
It is also true that Japanese people order KFC for Christmas dinner. According to the brand, KFC earned a whopping $63 million between 20 – 25th December in 2018. This is due to the brilliant, now legendary, marketing campaign by Takeshi Okawara: ‘Kentucky for Christmas’.
– Christmas gift
– Christmas girls
– Christmas boys
– Christmas recipe
– Christmas food
– Christmas cake (xx brand name)
– Christmas card (message)
– Christmas party
– Christmas Eve

New Year
Once Christmas is finished, the country gets ready for New Year’s Day – one of the most important holidays in Japan. It is time spent with family, and many people travel back to their hometowns. There is a lot of preparation in order to walk into the new year in the best way possible. Household deep cleaning, big grocery shopping on New Year’s Eve, meal preparation, and setting up traditional decorations around the entrance are just a few examples. Osechi ryori is a traditional meal eaten on New Year’s Day. It consists of an assortment of small dishes, each holding a symbolic meaning. Many families decide to order osechi ryori – this has to be done in advance at a conbini, department store or a restaurant. 
– New Year card print
– free New Year card design
– free New Year card template
– zodiac illustration
– New Year food recipe
– New Year dish arrangement
– New Year dishes
– kagami mochi
End-of-year party
Let’s not forget about bonenkai – end of year drinking parties. In literal translation, bonenkai means ‘forget-the-year gathering’. They are usually held in the second half of December among friends and colleagues. It is a great way to celebrate a year of hard work, and is a form of Japanese ‘Nominication’ (a part of Japanese business culture that combines drinking & communicating).
– Bonenkai when
– bonenkai food
– bonenkai party
– bonenkaigames


Do you need help with crafting a marketing calendar?

Be sure to keep the above in mind when building your strategy for Japan. Should the market be part of your expansion strategy, we at DMFA are ready to assist you. Our team of bilingual Japanese experts can support you or your business with online ads, digital strategy, SEO localization, social media marketing, and more. Get in touch to learn more about our services and how our consultants can support you!

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