Giving Thanks in Japan

Staff Writer
Although not directly related to the American holiday tradition, the Japanese have an important holiday of thanksgiving

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Centered on rice, the Japanese also have a tradition for giving thanks for a healthy harvest.

Like in the U.S., the end of November is a "thanksgiving" season for the Japanese. On the 23rd of November every year, the country observes a holiday known as Labor Thanksgiving Day, or a day dedicated to giving thanks "for their employment and the prosperity brings to their families."

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The modern holiday dates back to 1948 when the country introduced workers’ rights like "minimum wages, a cap on working hours, and the formation of unions." However, the deeper roots of the holiday go back many centuries. The original observation was intended to give thanks for healthy harvests before the arrival of winter.

This food-centered tradition involved the Emperor formally giving thanks to the gods by being the first to taste the country’s rice harvest. This tradition was banned when the holiday formally changed its focus after World War II. Even still, many people honor the holiday by both giving thanks for the harvest and the benefits of their employment.

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Wanting to add some Japanese influence to your Thanksgiving table? Check out our recipe for Japanese rice!