5. B’z — Itsuka no Merry Christmas
This song was included in a 2015 Japanese Matome Naver article titled “10 Christmas Songs You Are Sick and Tired of Hearing,” and for a reason: released in 1992, it still makes it into the karaoke charts after more than 20 years. It’s one of those songs that all shops seem to dust off for the season. The title literally means ”Someday's Merry Christmas”—and it seems ”someday” just keeps rolling around year after year!
4. AKB48 — Christmas ga Ippai
Could AKB48, Japan's biggest idol group of the moment, miss out on the Christmas theme? Of course they couldn’t, and they didn’t just release one, but several tracks jumping onto the seasonal sleigh. We chose “Christmas ga Ippai” (“Lots of Christmas“) for your listening pleasure, but also look up “Noel no Yoru” (”The Eve of Noel”) “Yoyaku Shita Christmas” (”Reserved Christmas”), “Christmas Yoru Nakanai You Ni” (”So I Don't Cry on Christmas Eve”), “Totteoki Christmas” (another way of saying ”Reserved Christmas”) and “Anata to Christmas Eve” (”Christmas Eve with You”). Did we mention Christmas Eve is a couples' night in Japan?
3. Arashi — Wish
If we mention the most famous girls' pop unit, we also have to give it to the boys with the pop quintet Arashi. This song was released in 2005, and after ten years it’s still one of the most famous Christmas songs, ever present in the karaoke charts.
2. Ryuichi Sakamoto — Forbidden Colors
For those of you who prefer instrumental tracks, this is unmissable—even though you’ve probably already heard it. This song was the principal theme of the movie Senjo no Merry Christmas (also known as Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and Furyo), a 1983 Japanese-British drama revolving around the life of four men in a Japanese war camp during World War II (two of them being Beat Takeshi and David Bowie!). Sakamoto's score won the 1984 BAFTA Award for Best Score, which goes a long way to explain its enduring presence.
1. Exile — Last Christmas
We saved the best for last! This is probably the most famous Japanese pop song related to Christmas. As you can guess from the title, this is a Japanese adaptation/translation of the popular song by Wham!, and since its release in 2008 it has been one of the staples of the Japanese romantic Christmastime.