Thanksgiving is an important holiday in the US and many countries around the world. Have you ever wondered “Does Japan celebrate Thanksgiving?”. What do people of ‘the land of the rising sun’ do on this special occasion? Let me reveal to you the answer in this article.
What Is Labor Thanksgiving Day?
Japan also has Thanksgiving Day celebrated at the end of November. However, the meaning of this holiday is different from the Thanksgiving we know. Japanese people call it Kinro Kansha no Hi.
This holiday originates from the Niinamesai festival. This is a ritual to thank the gods for a good rice harvest. Traditionally, people will use rice or other grains to offer sacrifices to the gods.
In addition, the Emperor of Japan also used harvested rice varieties to thank Amaterasu (Goddess of the sun). He had to eat that kind of rice in this royal event. In fact, it’s a way for the Japanese to transmit important rituals to this day.
In 1873, Japanese decided to set this festival on November 23. At the present time, many major temples in Japan also perform Niinamesai ritual. After the war, the holiday was renamed Labor Thanksgiving Day in 1948.
Meaning of Labor Thanksgiving Day
The Niinamesai ritual used to thank the gods for the crops. However, as Japanese society changed, workers’ rights were also enhanced. Therefore, Japanese government chose this holiday to thank the righteous workers. Whether you are a doctor, a worker, or a housewife, everyone should appreciate you.
In other words, Thanksgiving in America is related to religious beliefs. Thanksgiving in Japan is a national holiday to honor the spirit of labor.
How Japan Celebrate Thanksgiving
Unlike the exciting celebration in the US, Thanksgiving Day in Japan is usually celebrated more quietly. On this holiday, all employees have the day off. So they often go to the park with their families and have dinner together.
But the Japanese don’t eat turkey on 11/23. They usually have a traditional dinner with fish, rice and tea. If you’re traveling to Japan around Thanksgiving, you can enjoy a traditional dinner with delicious turkey at international hotels. Besides, visiting Shinto shrines to experience the solemn Niinamesai ritual is also a great idea.
In addition, there is an interesting activity during Labor Thanksgiving Day. Primary-school-age children will make cards or prepare small gifts for police officers, firefighters, medical staff, etc. This is how the Japanese teach children to value the contributions and efforts of others.
Although Japanese Thanksgiving is not like the West, it is still a meaningful and enjoyable holiday. If you have the opportunity to visit the country at the end of November, try to experience traditional Japanese culture on this holiday. I’m sure you will have great moments.
Read interesting information about thanksgiving here.