Labor Thanksgiving Day

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Labor Thanksgiving Day
Official name Kinrō kansha no hi (勤労感謝の日)
Observed by Japan
Type National, public
Significance Commemorates labor and production and giving one another thanks; formerly a harvest festival
Date November 23

Labor Thanksgiving Day (勤労感謝の日, Kinrō Kansha no Hi) is a national holiday in Japan which takes place annually on November 23.[1] The law establishing the holiday cites as an occasion for commemorating labor and production and giving one another thanks.

Events are held throughout Japan, one such being the Nagano Labor Festival. The event encourages thinking about the environment, peace and human rights.[citation needed]

It is not unusual for early grade elementary students to create drawings for the holiday and give them as gifts to local kōbans (neighborhood police stations).


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 (新嘗祭, also read as Shinjō-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). Modern scholars can date the basic forms of niiname-sai to the time of Emperor Tenmu (667–686 AD).[2] Traditionally, it celebrated the year's hard work; during the Niiname-sai ceremony, the Emperor would dedicate the year's harvest to kami (spirits), and taste the rice for the first time.

The modern holiday was established after World War II in 1948 as a day to mark some of the changes of the postwar Constitution of Japan, including fundamental human rights and the expansion of workers rights.[3] Currently, Niiname-sai is still held privately by the Imperial House of Japan on the same day as Labor Thanksgiving Day, which has become a public national holiday.[4]

May 1 is also celebrated as Labor Day by many trade unions in Japan,[5] which hold large rallies and marches in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stuart D. B. Picken (2010). Historical Dictionary of Shinto. Scarecrow Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-810-87372-8. 
  2. ^ Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko (1994-11-14). Rice as self: Japanese identities through time. Princeton University Press. pp. 46–7. ISBN 978-0-691-02110-2. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Miller, Adam (November 22, 2011). "Labor Thanksgiving Day – 勤労感謝の日". Axiom Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Morrill, Ann (August 2009). Thanksgiving and Other Harvest Festivals. Infobase Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-60413-096-6. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Hijirida, Kyoko; Yoshikawa, Muneo (1987). Japanese language and culture for business and travel. University of Hawaii Press. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-8248-1017-7. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 

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