Labor Thanksgiving Day

Public and national holidays in Japan National Holiday in Japan


When is Labor Thanksgiving Day?

Celebrated on November 23 or the following Monday if it falls on a Sunday.

Labor 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.

History of Labor Thanksgiving Day

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.

The actual origin is believed to be much more ancient, possibly going back to when rice cultivation first arrived in Japan over 2,000 years ago.

Niinamesai came to be held on 23 November during the Meiji era (1868-1912) and was a nationally celebrated event.

After the World War II, Labor Thanksgiving Day was established to mark the fact that fundamental human rights were guaranteed and rights of workers were greatly expanded in the postwar constitution.

How is Labor Thanksgiving Day Celebrated?

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.

In the suburbs of Tokyo, nursery school pupils present drawings and handicrafts to local police officers, who look after their safety every day.

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