9 Reasons Why KFC Is So Popular in Japan (Full Guide)

In the United States, almost everybody knows about KFC. From the fast-food chain’s family-oriented meals to its secret 11 spice blend, it’s no secret KFC is a delicious way to enjoy fried chicken.

But have you ever wondered why KFC is so prevalent in other countries, such as Japan? Over the past 40 years, KFC has continually expanded in the country.

But what contributed to this success? I’ve researched the matter in-depth, so keep reading to see what I discovered!

Why Is KFC So Popular in Japan In 2024?

KFC’s Christmas chicken campaign, Japan’s willingness to adopt American fast food, and the fact that KFC’s food tastes similar to popular Japanese dishes contribute to its popularity as of 2024. Also, globalization and the fact that KFC’s food is specially designed to be addictive contribute to the fast-food chain’s success in Japan.

If you want to learn more reasons why KFC is so popular in Japan and when the first KFC opened in the country, keep on reading!

1. KFC’s Christmas Chicken Campaign

Although only 1% of Japan’s population identifies as Christian, KFC’s Christmas deal is a significant reason why the fast-food chain is so popular in that country.

KFC’s campaign is ever-expanding because a traditional Christmas meal is turkey, but it’s almost impossible to find this type of meat in Japan. Therefore, chicken from KFC is the next best thing!

2. KFC Is an Established Brand

Another reason KFC is so popular in Japan is because the fast-food chain has established itself in the country. For example, the first KFC in Japan opened in 1970 in Nagoya.

After the first location opened, the restaurant quickly gained traction, and multiple stores began popping up throughout the country.

Therefore, because KFC has been in Japan for a considerable time, the citizens have grown to love the food.

3. Japan Is Eager to Adopt American Foods

One factor that assisted KFC’s exponential growth in Japan is the country’s willingness to adopt American foods.

For example, shortly after the first KFC opened in 1970, other American fast-food chains like McDonald’s made their way into Japan.

Needless to say, the American fast-food chains were met with excellent market testing results, and the people of Japan continue to love Western fast food.

4. KFC Adapted Its Menu for Japan

Although the people of Japan love traditional KFC menu items, the fast-food chain also incorporates specific adaptations to appeal to Japanese culture.

For example, KFC opened a three-story restaurant near Shimokitazawa station in Tokyo. Because this station is so popular, several people visit this KFC store regularly.

Also, KFC included a fully-stocked whiskey bar in the three-story restaurant, which it says gives visitors a taste of “Good ‘ol America.”

5. It’s Hard to Find Turkey on Christmas Eve in Japan

5. It's Hard to Find Turkey on Christmas Eve in Japan KFC

Traditionally, a Christmas Eve meal includes turkey as the main course. However, it’s very difficult to find turkey in Japan, especially on a major holiday like Christmas.

So, when a manager of a KFC in Japan thought about this problem, he came up with the idea to have a Christmas special at KFC. With that, chicken became the new substitute for turkey on Christmas Eve in Japan.

6. KFC’s Christmas Special Is a Good Deal

KFC is incredibly popular in Japan because of how good the Christmas menu is at the fast-food chain.

For example, KFC offers its Christmas menu from December 19 for seven days, with the Party Barrel being the most common deal people in Japan take advantage of.

Further, the Party Barrel consists of eight pieces of chicken, a shrimp gratin, tiramisu cake, and a Christmas plate for $49.

As you can see, KFC offers a lot of food for a great price, helping the restaurant maintain its presence in the country.

7. Globalization

Globalization is undoubtedly a factor that’s helped KFC maintain a strong presence in Japan and continue to grow. After World War II, Japan’s economy started to expand in the 1940s and 1950s rapidly.

During this period, Japanese culture began accepting several traditions and societal norms of other countries, because people had the money to participate in consumer culture for the first time.

Afterward, in the 1970s and 1980s, Japan’s fast-food industry expanded an astonishing 600%, welcoming restaurants like KFC with open arms.

8. KFC Offers Familiar Flavors

One reason the people of Japan accepted KFC so quickly is that the fast-food chain offers menu items that taste similar to other Japanese foods.

For example, a traditional Japanese dish called karaage consists of small pieces of breaded, deep-fried meats like chicken or fish.

Essentially, KFC’s chicken isn’t a new taste for Japan. Rather, it’s a familiar taste profile that the people are accustomed to.

9. KFC’s Food Tastes Good

Of course, no matter what’s on KFC’s menu, it could never succeed if the food didn’t taste good. So, a reason the fast-food chain has been welcomed in Japan is because the food simply tastes good.

Additionally, KFC’s secret spice blend, use of fresh chicken, and extensive chicken preparation all contribute to the great tasting food you’re familiar with.

To learn more about KFC, you can also check our posts about why is KFC so good, why is KFC so expensive, and the biggest KFC competitors.


KFC has continually gained popularity in Japan for several reasons. For example, globalization and Japan’s willingness to adopt American fast-food allowed KFC to be welcomed with open arms.  

Also, KFC’s Christmas special has made the restaurant incredibly popular because people in Japan can pick up a lot of food for a reasonable price.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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