Labor Thanksgiving Day is a Japanese holiday that celebrates labor, production, and is meant as a time for citizens to give thanks. It is called Kinro Kansha no Hi in Japanese. Every year it falls on November 23rd unless the 23rd is a Sunday. If this is the case the holiday is celebrated the following Monday. While Labor Thanksgiving wasn’t officially recognized until after WWII, the original holiday, Niinamesai, has been celebrated for thousands of years. Niinamesai is the Japanese term for the Harvest Festival. At the festival, the Emperor would make the season’s first offerings (freshly harvested rice). He would then eat the rice himself.
The earliest written record of the holiday is found in the “Chronicle of Japan” , one of the oldest histories of Japan. In it, it says that a Niinamesai took place in November 678. However, there are many people who believe the holiday is more ancient in origin. Many are convinced that Niinamesai goes back to the introduction of rice cultivation to Japan over two thousand years ago.
After WWII the holiday was officially declared to be “Labor Thanksgiving Day” and was established to mark the fact that basic human rights were ensured to all workers. Modern Labor Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in many ways. The city of Nagano hosts a large festival every year. In 2017 there were at least 400 thousand people in attendance. Additionally, like many other Japanese holidays, it is customary for families to get together and people are encouraged to relax and do things that make them happy. Furthermore, in the suburbs of Tokyo it has become quite common for school children to design cards for firefighters and other laborers to express thanks and gratitude for their help to better society.