The popular American fast food chain KFC was originally opened in Japan as a joint venture between the American parent and the Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation. The first test store was opened in March 1970 and KFC quickly gained popularity in Japan where they opened 100 outlets by December 1973.
From December 1974, KFC Japan began an advertising campaign promoting fried chicken as a Christmas meal. Since then, eating KFC as a Christmas time meal has become a tradition in Japan. Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan and it wasn’t really celebrated at all historically in Japan. In fact, only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian.
Perhaps it’s because Colonel Sanders resembles Santa Claus. Perhaps it’s because people realized fried chicken actually tastes better than roasted chicken. Or perhaps it’s because KFC had an amazing marketing strategy, as explained here.
Ever since 1974 “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) has become a bigger and bigger phenomenon and is something that could potentially never go out of style.