In Japan, $850 Christmas chicken defies recession

TOKYO Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:14am EST

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - For those in Japan willing to splurge this Christmas despite a looming recession, a department store is offering truffle-stuffed roast chickens for 84,000 yen ($847) apiece.

Takashimaya Co has started taking orders for 12 capons to be flown in from Landes, France in time for Christmas Eve and filled with black truffles, foie gras, white sausage and chestnuts.

"People may think it's expensive, but it would be perfect for a party," said a spokeswoman at Takashimaya.

"The meat is not heavy but juicy, and there will be truffles between the flesh and meat, making it very fragrant."

The capons, known to be more tender than other chickens, will be prepared by French luxury food maker Fauchon and will serve six to eight people each.

Only one has been ordered so far, the spokeswoman said.

"It's still early November, so people are probably still planning their parties," she added.

Japan is bracing for a recession, with the economy hit first by a spike in oil prices and more recently by the global financial crisis.

Retailers have been hit particularly hard by low consumer confidence as the middle class cuts back on spending, and are trying to woo the super-rich with ever more extravagant offers.

While eating chicken on Christmas is popular here, many may prefer to stick to a Japanese tradition that dates back to the 1970s: heading to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken, where a set of roast chicken, cake, salad and a commemorative plate sells for 5,300 yen.

($1=99.14 Yen)

(Reporting by Chisa Fujioka; editing by Sophie Hardach)