Labour Thanksgiving Day, Japan

Labour Thanksgiving Day, Japan

Labour Thanksgiving Day, Japan 


Celebration Date
23th November
Other Name
Kinro kansha no hi
Holiday Type
National Holiday


Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro Kansha no Hi) is a national holiday in Japan which takes place annually on November 23. The law establishing the holiday cites as an occasion for commemorating labor and production and giving one another thanks. 

Similarly to other thanksgiving days around the world, this public holiday is connected to the autumn harvest. However, Kinra Kansha no Hi has the added bonus of being a day dedicated to the workers and labourers that keep Japan’s cogs turning. Whilst on the surface these concepts may seem unrelated, after a brief time-hop, their connection becomes clear. It became a holiday in 1948 as a day for citizens to express gratitude to one other for work done throughout the year and for the fruits of those labors.


History of Labor Thanksgiving Day

Labor Thanksgiving Day is the modern name for an ancient cereals (rice, barley/wheat, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, proso millet, and beans) harvest festival known as Niiname-sai. The Nihon Shoki mentions a harvest ritual having taken place during the reign of the legendary Emperor Jimmu (660–585 BC), as well as more formalized harvest celebrations during the reign of Emperor Seinei (480–484 AD).

The history of Niinamesai goes back many centuries; the first written account is found in the Chronicle of Japan - one of the oldest histories of Japan, dating from 720 - which says that a Niinamesai took place in November 678. Labor Thanksgiving Day has an extensive history that dates back as far as 660 BCE. When the holiday first began, it was a celebration of the fall harvest. This celebration was accompanied by a harvest ritual by the Japanese emperor and the Royal Court. This ritual was known as Shinjo-sai and involved the Emperor tasting the first rice of the harvest and honoring the harvest for the spirits, or kami.

Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan is celebrated as an occasion for commemorating labor and production and giving one another thanks. In ancient times this festival was celebrated as the Rice Harvest Festival or popularly known in local language as Niiname-sai. The ancient festival’s origination dates back hundreds of years. It is believed that the festival was celebrated as early as November of 678. Tradition has it that the emperor would dedicate the season’s fresh harvet to the gods and taste the rice himself for the first time.


Labor Thanksgiving Day Celebrations

Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan is widely celebrated, the holiday is not noticeable in public places. There are no large parades, decorations, or other indications of Labor Thanksgiving Day. Instead of large festivals, families have modest celebrations within private residences. A number of major events are held on this day. One such event is a labor festival held every year in the city of Nagano, which hosted the Olympic Winter Games in February 1998. Local labor organizations sponsor this event to encourage people to think about issues affecting peace, human rights, and the environment. On Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan, events are organized across the country. All government offices and schools remain closed for the holiday on November 23. These events encourage people to think about the environment, peace, and human rights. School children in Japan create drawings for the holiday and present them as gifts to the local police stations.



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