Nov 23

Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan

Happy Labor Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving is celebrated worldwide in so many different and unique ways.  In Japan, November 23 is Labor Thanksgiving Day, a second national holiday in November!  It became a holiday in 1948 as a day for citizens to express gratitude to one another for work done throughout the year and for the fruits of those labors.

Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro Kansha no Hi in Japanese) is actually a modern name for an ancient ritual called Niinamesai (Harvest Festival).  In the ritual, the Emperor makes the season’s first offering of freshly harvested rice to the gods and then partakes of the rice himself.

The history of Niinamesai goes back hundreds of years. The first written account is dated November 678.  Yes!  That’s 6-7-8.  The year 678.  The origin of the ritual is believed to be much older, going back to when rice cultivation was first transmitted to Japan more than 2,000 years ago.

After World War II, Labor Thanksgiving Day was established to mark the fact that fundamental human rights were guaranteed and rights of workers were greatly expanded in the postwar Constitution.

A number of major events are held on this day, one being a labor festival held every year in the city of Nagano, which hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1998.  Local labor organizations sponsor this event to encourage people to think about issues affecting peace, human rights, and the environment. It might not mean anything but International Buy Nothing Day is celebrated prior to Thanksgiving in Japan. I’m not sure if Black Friday has been imported yet… but I digress.

Across the country, nursery school students present drawings and handicrafts to service employess like postal workers and local police officers, who look after their safety every day.

Japan, a country that really knows how to celebrate…..month after month!  Banzai!!

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