|Christmas decorations light up above a Japanese couple in Tokoy.
Christmas Eve in some parts of the world may find parents battling crowds of other last-minute shoppers or struggling to assemble toys as their children sleep, but in Japan the holiday is as much for couples as for kids.
Magazines aimed at the young and in love are filled with advice on the best places to stroll down streets illuminated with stunning displays of Christmas lights, the best restaurants for a cosy dinner for two -- and the best hotels for a romantic night.
Tokyo Tower, a popular dating spot, is lighting up a heart-shaped illumination on its observation deck every night until Christmas. Some believe that couples who stand under the tower when the lights go on must vow eternal love.
Lovers can also tie a ribbon to a special Christmas "love tree" on the tower's observation deck.
"When I tied this ribbon, I made a wish that our love would last forever," said Masahiro Yamamoto, 23, as he and his girlfriend enjoyed the view ahead of the holiday rush.
Nearby, the new Tokyo Prince Hotel Park Tower has two specially decorated Christmas suites on offer for 2 million yen ($16,660) a night, fancy dinner included.
"We made this special plan for couples who would like to have a special and memorable Christmas," said concierge Hiromi Koshikawa.
Both suites were booked for December 24 more than a month ago.
"This sort of flashy spending becameconspicuousduring the 'bubble'," said Toshihiro Nagahama, a senior economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute, referring to Japan's late 1980s heydey of sky-high property and share prices.
"With the economy improving now, spending could go up again."
Only about 1 percent of Japan's population is Christian, and December 25 is a working day for most people, but practices such as decorating shopping streets and exchanging gifts became common in the robust consumer economy that emerged after World War Two.
Modern "traditions" include Christmas Cake -- a sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream eaten on Christmas Eve -- and, for some families, a take-out bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.