Since 678, Japan celebrates a holiday around this time of the year by giving thanks to laborers and the fall harvest.

Imagine you’re an American, let’s say Nikkei (foreign-born Japanese) or Japanese American, and you are now living in Japan. As the year approaches the end, you’re looking forward to Thanksgiving, except there is no turkey to be found.

Suddenly you realize that American traditions of eating cranberry sauce and creamed corn aren’t common in your new hometown. However, there is still a government-recognized holiday with the theme of giving thanks in Japan.

In comes Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan, most recently known as kinrōkanshahi 勤労感謝の日, a holiday celebrating the workers and the fruits of their labor, sans festivities. Established in 1948 after World War II, the holiday also celebrates expanded workers rights and fundamental human rights. Schoolchildren can be found writing thank you cards and giving gifts to municipal workers like police, firefighters, and hospital workers. 

Source

Since 678, Niiname-sai 新嘗祭 Rice Harvest Festival (the Japanese holiday that kinrōkanshahi evolved from) was celebrated by the Emperor of Japan to express gratitude for the currently fall season of bountiful harvests of crops. As an expression of his gratitude, he would offer new crops to the Shinto deities and would taste the year’s first rice harvest. With the influence of the American occupation after World War II, these ritual traditions were no longer made public and instead carried out in the Imperial Palace Shrines. Read more about this intense ritual here.

Allabout-Japan

If you would like to celebrate Thanksgiving like they do in the United States, read here for some tips on where to find ingredients and items that you can usually find on the dinner table. In both the Japan and many parts of the world, this is a great time to enjoy the seasonal fruits, vegetables, and goodies that only come around this time of the year.

Thankfully (pun intended) while my family and I lived in Japan, we were able to acquire a turkey through my parent's restaurant. Mom knew how to make the sides since she grew stateside.‍

KOTONK | Excerpt From "Three Years on the Great Mountain: A Memoir of Zen and Fearlessness" by Cristina Moon

Available June 18, 2024, author Cristina Moon shares an excerpt of "Kotonk" from "Three Years on the Great Mountain: A Memoir of Zen and Fearlessness" with Yo! Magazine, reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Read More >>

A Sho-Time Capsule: Stories about the Dodgers, Street Art & The Japanese Renaissance

Every time I go down to Little Tokyo I can't help but smile at the larger-than-life portrait towering over the Yagura. Shohei has become a fixture of the street. Kevin asks community members for their reactions to the new Shohei Ohtani mural.

Read More >>

Between Queens: Reflections on Court Experiences from LA to SF to HI

Reflections from this past year's three festival queens in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu!

Read More >>

Love in a Grocery Store Aisle

I know that for many, Little Tokyo is more than just a tourist spot. It’s a safe space for Japanese people to gather and participate in community activities and building. If a Japantown is supposed to be a safe space for Japanese people, then Japanese markets are my Japantown.

Read More >>