The Colonel conquers Christmas
November 17, 2009

I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m writing about Christmas. Well, too bad. Even in Japan, the songs are playing and the lights are being hung. But, there is a major discrepancy…

When I think of Christmas dinner in America, I think of a big ass turkey and/or ham with all the trimmings, lots of alochol, and lots of crazy family members gossiping around a candlelit dinner table…

In Japan, however, Christmas is associated with fried chicken. Kentucy Fried Chicken.

Although it exists, turkey isn’t common in Japan, and it certainly isn’t associated with Christmas. Colonel Saunders and his massive advertising campaigns have embedded “KFC = Christmas” into the minds of most naive Japanese. I say ‘naive’ because Christmas in Japan is purely commerical with no religious strings attached. Therefore everything the Japanese understand about Christmas has been fed to them through TV, radio and magazines, including commercials for chicken.

I wonder how much money KFC rakes in over the holiday season in Japan?

KFC is so prevalent in Japan that many Japanese unknowingly consider it to be a Japanese Company. On Christmas day many families (who have made reservations weeks in advance), have their traditional Christmas dinner at KFC. Colonel Sanders has become somewhat of a cult figure in Japan. Not only is there a life-sized statue of the Colonel in front of every KFC, but his memorabilia like wind-up toys and figurines can be found at many toy stores throughout Japan.

Allegedly,  a very prominent Japanese baseball club is said to be cursed by the Colonel, himself.

Anyone from Philadelphia can tell you about the William Penn curse that was righted by placing a small statue of Penn on top of the Comcast Center, thus leading to a 2008 World Series Victory. Well, the residents of Osaka are still looking for pieces of their statue…

In 1985, much to Japanese people’s surprise,[3] the Hanshin Tigers faced the Seibu Lions and took their first and only victory in the Japan Series, largely due to star slugger Randy Bass,[4][7] a gaijin (foreigner) player for the team.

The rabid fan base went wild, and a riotous celebration gathered at Ebisubashi Bridge in Dōtonbori, Osaka. There, an assemblage of supporters yelled the players names, and with every name a fan resembling a member of the victorious team leapt from the bridge into the waiting canal. However, lacking someone to imitate MVP Randy Bass, the rabid crowd seized a Colonel Sanders (like Bass, the Colonel had a beard and was not Japanese) plastic statue from a nearby KFC and tossed it off the bridge as an effigy.[4]

This impulsive maneuver was to cost the team greatly, beginning the Curse of the Colonel.[1] Urban legend has it that the Tigers will not win the championship again until the statue is recovered.[5] Subsequently, numerous attempts has been made to recover the statue, often as a part of variety TV show. Most of the statue was recovered in March, 2009.[8]