Thanksgiving in Japan

It’s the “he” part of the blog team, and today we’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Japan.

IMG_1797Well, sort of. Although it’s Thursday, November 23 here, we’re 14 hours ahead of the US…so, actually the US Thanksgiving holiday hasn’t yet begun. However, in Japan, November 23 is an annual national holiday — Labor Thanksgiving. It just so happens that this year, the calendar aligns both holidays on November 23.

Labor Thanksgiving has its roots in centuries-old tradition in Japan. As far back as 660 B.C., this was a celebration of the fall harvest – rituals were held, and people also used the event to reflect on the year’s work.

By 1948, Japan had evolved from an agrarian society to an industrial nation. The holiday shifted more toward recognition of laborers. The modern holiday is also linked to the new Japanese constitution after World War II, which provided a new level of protection for human rights of the workforce.

Today, many businesses are closed on Labor Thanksgiving Day, and it’s common for the Japanese people to gather for a meal with their family. Unlike in the US, the day isn’t focused on a large feast. Instead, people enjoy a normal meal with friends and family.

For us, Thanksgiving is one of those times when we find ourselves missing the United States. For most of our adult lives, Thanksgiving was time when the family gathered and enjoyed a great meal. I think back on all those years and the wonderful times we had…it’s hard not to feel a bit of nostalgic yearning for the good old days.

Although we’ll miss our family gathering for Thanksgiving, we look forward to a trip back to the US in December, to celebrate the holidays and be together with our family again. As for today, my wife and I will likely celebrate Labor Thanksgiving with a delicious meal…of sushi and sake.

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My husband and I were both born and raised in Kansas, but for the past 20+ years we have been living in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, with our children grown and out of the house, we have the opportunity to spend two years living in Tokyo. My husband will be working with the Japanese counterpart to his American company. UPDATE 2023... After 4-1/2 years in Tokyo, we returned to Atlanta. Now we are heading to London for a three year job assignment!

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