Well, my fellow Americans, you are probably just as confused as I am about the upcoming Japanese holiday on November 23rd. For us, Labor Day was celebrated back in early September. And you’re probably all currently searching pinterest for the perfect turkey recipe for next Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast. So what’s the deal with this dual holiday in Japan?
Labor Thanksgiving Day is indeed a day to give thanks, and has its roots in an ancient harvest festival that can be traced back to the mid 7th century. On that day, the success of farmers would be celebrated and people would often have their first taste of that year’s rice harvest. The modern date for the Japanese holiday was decided in 1948, when the new Constitution strengthened the rights of workers.
Today, you won’t find people giving general thanks over their turkeys (honestly … it is ridiculously difficult to find a turkey in this country) but rather giving thanks more specifically for workers and the tasks they perform. Sometimes, school children will make cards for their local firefighters or police force. You might find more newspapers covering articles on labor-related topics this week as well.
As it is an official holiday, the government will take a day off. So will schools and certain businesses. Travelers will hardly notice the holiday except to see greater crowds on trains and roadways on Monday and many tourist sites – especially autumn related ones – will be more packed than normal.
Now excuse me while I go dig up my pumpkin pie recipe …