Japan Has Black Friday For Some Reason

Japan Has Black Friday For Some Reason

Thursday was Thanksgiving, but Japan doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. That hasn’t stopped Japanese retail from rolling out Black Friday sales.

While Japan isn’t the only country to recently latch onto the American sales bonanza Black Friday, the day started to become more noticeable.

Back in 2014, Toys “R” Us Japan began Black Friday sales, and the Gap followed a year later. By 2016, the Japanese national retail chain Aeon started promoting sales more widely with in-store display and TV commercials. At that time, ads explained that Black Friday was a “major sales” tradition started in the U.S.

In 2021, Japanese news channels are still explaining what Black Friday is. In Japan, it’s not limited to Friday, with the sales going on for days. Some sales do draw lines, but even though Black Friday is getting a big retail push, it doesn’t quite meet Japanese end-of-the-year shopping habits.

In English, of course, “Black Friday” refers to retail instantly making a profit — being in the black. It’s the start of the holiday shopping season. In Japanese, there is a similar expression, kuroji (黒字); however, the country’s holiday shopping season actually starts later.

Tomohiro Osaki at The Japan Times reports that annual surveys show that 75 percents of responds in Japan now know what Black Friday is. That’s a jump from only around 30 per cent in 2017. However, only 15.5 per cent of respondents in this year’s poll are planning on taking advantage of the sales. [Full disclosure: I am a columnist at The Japan Times.]

Yutaro Suzuki, an economist at Daiwa Institute of Research, tells The Japan Times that even though Japanese consumers are more aware of Black Friday, the sales aren’t fully translating to Japan. “In November, bonuses are in many cases not paid out yet, meaning people’s willingness to spend isn’t too high,” said Suzuki. “Black Friday is still a developing culture in Japan.”

The country already has a big sales and shopping period in connection with the New Year’s Holidays. There’s an established sales tradition with big discounts and “lucky bag” bundles. Retailers, it seems, no doubt hope that Black Friday will give a fall sales bump to their bottom line. Some Japanese consumers seem miffed about the arbitrary nature of Black Friday — namely, pegging it to the day after a holiday that doesn’t even exist in Japan.

As previously mentioned, there is no Thanksgiving (Halloween, however, is celebrated), so Black Friday obviously doesn’t mark the official start of holiday shopping, but it does mark the start of something.

This article was originally published on November 28, 2016.


  • “so Black Friday obviously doesn’t mark the official start of holiday shopping”

    yeah it does, the start of Christmas shopping.

  • At the start of the century, Amerikkka’s creepy worship of the capitalistic ‘holiday’ Black Friday wouldn’t have spread over the world like a cancer, because we were less-connected back then.

    Thanks to online shopping and globalisation, it’s extremely easy for anyone from Asia or Australia to participate in the ‘sales frenzies’ taking place in US storefronts. Those might as well be lost sales for local retailers who don’t offer anything comparable to the Amerikkkans’ ‘Black Friday’.

    As a result, in order to get ‘in’ on the tantalising potential sales arising from Amerikkka’s ‘Black Friday’, more and more domestic retailers – online and physical, are adopting ‘Black Friday’ sales events.

    The reality is that they have to do this, or else they’re losing sales to Amerikkkans, and it’ll cut into their regular Christmas-season sales figures. Especially after 2 years of Covid market conditions making consumers more cost-conscious than ever.

    • Your comment was fairly reasonable except for deliberately misspelling Americans. There’s no reason to be using that slang term.

  • What’s the point of focusing on Japan in this article? I’m in Australia. I don’t know the meaning of “Black Friday”. We also don’t get bonuses before the sales. So you could easily write it about Australia if you wanted.
    All I know is all the retailers are having a sale. It’s a great time to get all the Xmas shopping done.

  • Black Friday has absolutely nothing to do with america’s thanksgiving, are you on drugs? You do realise we have Black Friday here in Australia right, and of course most other countries you can name. It doesn’t matter how it started, it matters what it is now. I bet you still think Christmas (or Easter) has literally anything to do with religion when in fact it has been a non-religious consumerist (and chocolate) holiday since long before our parents were born. Sure some cultists still act like they are, but they’re grasping at straws and at this point they are two separate things which happen to take place at the same time as whatever cultist crap people believe in.

    • I tip my fedora to you, fellow big-brained picillion-IQ atheist. Hitler might have had the right idea by taking his war on decadent cults like christianity and judaism to a new level.

  • Along with Halloween, I wish other nations (including my own) would stop trying to import the American “Black Friday” shopping event to Australia.

    I understand that American TV and Films have an outsized effect on the culture of the world, but I don’t want crazed shoppers literally stampeding over each other to obtain flat-screen TVs. I also don’t want annoying 10 year old children showing up at my house asking for candy (although thankfully, that has only happened once). And I don’t want to Tip – I see restaurants and take-away shops trying to sneakily introduce tipping and I just won’t have it.

    We are NOT Americans. We shouldn’t strive to be Americans. Let the USA stay the USA – we shouldn’t take their worst aspects and bring them over (and I’ll be fair, the US did and does have some good points – it’s learned institutions and federal science agencies were some of the best in the world at one point and still have a lot of good scientists and some of their cutting edge technology is admirable).

    But Black Friday is not a “positive”. Japan shouldn’t have it. Australia shouldn’t have it. Even the Americans shouldn’t have it.

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