Every Christmas season an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to fried chicken from the American fast-food chain, in what has become a nationwide tradition.
December is a busy month for KFC in Japan – daily sales at some restaurants during the Christmas period can be 10 times their usual take. Getting the KFC special Christmas dinner often requires ordering it weeks in advance, and those who didn't will wait in line, sometimes for hours.
In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan national, calling it Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or Kentucky for Christmas. It took off quickly, and so did the Harvard-educated Okawara, who climbed through the company ranks and served as president and CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan from 1984 to 2002.