November 22, 2020

Japan's Thanksgiving


Tomoko is thankful that she immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen. She is thankful for her family and friends, including her musical family. Before she left Japan, that country has established its own national Thanksgiving Day on November 23, more specifically called Labor Thanksgiving Day: kinrōkanshahi.

Both the U.S. and Japan have celebrated fall harvest festivals for centuries. Japan’s harvest celebration dates back over 2500 years ago, and more formal observances are almost 1500 years old. The tradition celebrated the year’s hard work, and the harvest was dedicated to kami (spirits). The current form of Japan’s Thanksgiving was established in 1948, and focused on human rights and expanded worker rights.

While both countries give thanks, in Japan the holiday focuses on thanking workers and their good labors. Children sometimes write thank you cards to local public workers such as firefighters and healthcare workers. In that sense, Japan’s Thanksgiving is more political than the U.S.’s.

Turkey is not on the plate on Japan’s Thanksgiving Day, but families do get together and enjoy each other’s company. Fireworks also mark that holiday in Japan.

As a lifelong hard worker and distinguished teacher, Tomoko deserves our thanks – every day.

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