Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — even in hashioki.
Christmas is not an important holiday in Japan, where less than one percent of the population is Christian, but that doesn’t mean the Japanese don’t celebrate it. Many commercial buildings and stores decorate with lights and Christmas ornaments, and shops feature baked goods and other food items festooned with red and green. Christmas Eve is a popular date night in Japan, and December 25 kicks off the last week of Japan’s traditional year-end parties. So it’s not surprising that wreath, tree, jingle bell, and Santa hashioki all exist.
I’m not sure if this Santa is relaxed because he only has to make deliveries to 1% of the children in Japan, or whether he’s exhausted from his global delivery schedule.
By the way, the phrase”Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” comes from a newspaper editorial published in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897 which assured 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon that Santa Claus did exist, despite what her skeptical friends told her. The editorial is reported to be the most reprinted editorial in the English language, no doubt especially at this time of year.