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Introduction to Labour Thanksgiving Day in Japan
2021-11-23

  In the United States, the last Thursday in November is "Thanksgiving Day." A similar time is the  Labour Thanksgiving Day on November 23 every year in Japan. Are the two the same holiday? Is there any connection? Let’s take a closer look at Japan’s Labour Thanksgiving Day! 

  Labour Thanksgiving Day is a modern name for the ritual of Harvest Festival (Niinamesai). In the ritual, the Emperor makes the season's first offering of freshly harvested rice to the gods and then eats the rice himself. The "Festival Law" promulgated and implemented in 1948 (Showa 23) enacted this holiday. The legal purpose of the Labour Thanksgiving Day is to "respect hard work, congratulate production, and give mutual thanks to the people." It is not a Thanksgiving Day in Western countries, but a "new tasting festival" originating from ancient Japan.

Origin of Japan's Labour Thanksgiving Day:

  Before the war, November 23 was a day to feel the blessings of crops through the "Niiname-sai Festival". The modern era, where daily labor is rarely reciprocated in the form of visible "crops", contains the meaning of re-recognizing the purpose of hard work. On the other hand, the meaning of industriousness is recorded in "Japan’s New Celebration Day" written by Shinyoshi Shouda, a member of the House of Representatives Culture Committee "not only is the production of goods through manual labor all the time, but the important meaning of diligence in the research attitude of earnestly thinking daily and deepening the essence of things in the spiritual aspect is that it can create a life of precious meaning that contains existence, creation, and production". Gradually build cultural property, which has a wide range of material and spiritual meanings, is a way to correctly understand the term production.

  The Niiname-sai Festival was originally based on the old calendar (November sexagenary cycle), which is the time when the end of December in the new calendar is close to the winter solstice. However, in 1873 (Meiji 6), the new calendar was re-adopted on the 23rd of November, and it will continue to be used today.

  Although "Labour Thanksgiving Day" was established in 1948, there were various opinions such as "I hope to celebrate as the original  Niiname-sai Festival" when it was established. However, "labor" originally meant not only "engaged in agricultural production", but considering that it also encompasses the broad meaning of today's service industry, it rejected the " Niiname-sai Festival" and formulated the "Labour Thanksgiving Day".

Japan's Labour Thanksgiving Day activities:

  One of the events held in various parts of Japan is the Nagano Labor Day. This event encourages people to think about the environment, peace and human rights. It is not uncommon for elementary school students to make drawings for the holidays and present them as gifts to local citizens (community police stations).

  At the shrine near the company, an annual small-scale social event focusing on making rice cakes on the spot is held. The surrounding residents sell some of their own products, which is actually a flea market.

  Every year when the Labour Thanksgiving Day comes, the Japanese public takes a day off.. If the Labour Thanksgiving Day coincides with Saturday and Sunday, then it will be a small three consecutive holidays. Many Japanese people will go out during the consecutive holidays and appreciate the right time. Red autumn leaves.