Japanese Language Blog

Do the Japanese Celebrate Thanksgiving? Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Culture

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  With Thanksgiving fast approaching next week, I am sure everyone is excited and perhaps, getting ready for a big family get together. In Japan, although people might not celebrate quite the same way as in US, we actually do have a similar national holiday called “Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro-kansha-no-hi, 勤労感謝の日) which occurs on November 23rd annually.

It has the similar meaning as Thanksgiving here in the US – it was originally started as a fall harvest festival (Niiname-sai, 新嘗祭). After World War II, in 1948, the modern holiday was established as Labor Thanksgiving Day, which is “for the people to honor labor, celebrate manufacturing and give thanks to one another.”

In Japan, they don’t eat turkey dinner, or Thanksgiving dinner like we do in the US. However, the idea is the same: it is a time when people come together and enjoy the company and companionship of family members and celebrate!  Often times, when I was growing up, my mom would cook my dad’s favorite dishes on November 23rd for our family to be thankful for his hard work to support us.

Below is a TV ad from one of the food chain companies called Itoyokado. In this commercial,  kids start to first think about their dad, how hard he is working on a daily basis and decide to thank him for his hard work on Labor Thanksgiving day. However, they later realize that the one working the hardest might be their mom instead!  So, they decide to take out their dinner from Itoyokado for her.  I have included the Japanese translation below.



Little girl: Let’s be thankful for our Papa.  It’s Labor Thanksgiving Day! (Kinro-kansha-no-hi, chanto papani kansha shinai?, 勤労感謝の日さ、ちゃんとパパに感謝しない?)

Her sister: He is working hard isn’t he? (Papa, taihen dashine, パパ大変だしね)

Little girl: He gets waken up by Mama every morning.(maiasa mamani okosarete, 毎朝、ママに起こされて)

Her sister: He goes to work every morning with his lunch made by Mama.(mama no obento motte oshigoto itte, ママのお弁当持ってお仕事行って)

Her sister: When he comes home, he eats dinner that Mama cooked. (kaettara mamano tsukutta gohanwo tabete, 帰ったらママの作ったご飯を食べて)

Her sister: What?  the one working the hardest is actually Mama!(un? taihen nano mama jan, うん?大変なのママじゃん!)

Everyone: Mama… Mama.. yes it is her!(mama dayone~, ママだよね~)

Little girl: If that is the case, let’s take out the dinner and say thank you to Mama too this year! (dattara, omotenashi gohan de kotoshiwa mama ni mo, だったらおもてなしご飯で、今年はママにも!)

Everyone: Thanks for your hard work!(otsukare sama!, おつかれさま!)

Little girl: Papa, thank you too for working hard!(Papa mo otsukare sama! パパもおつかれさま!)


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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.


  1. Emm:

    Cute video ^o^ Thanks for sharing!