Thanksgiving Day in Japan (Kaede Sugano)

Origin and Traditions of Thanksgiving Day | Hotel Playa Mazatlan

When it comes to “Thanksgiving day”, what do you remind of? Most of you may imagine a table full of dishes, turkey, parades… etc. Those are classic ways of celebrating thanksgiving day in the US, which unfortunately suggested to be cancelled this year. Due to the global spread of COVID-19, most of the gatherings are cancelled in the US. Health experts worry that increased travel and mingling over Thanksgiving and into the December holidays could exacerbate an already dangerous situation as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising across.

However, do you know there is a similar customs in Japan? November 23rd is “Kinloh Kansha No Hi” (勤労感謝の日)in Japan, which is a national holiday to honor work and everything that has been accomplished by people’s hard working. Japanese thanksgiving day does not really involves festive stuff, rather they celebrates in the family.

In Japan, Thanksgiving day has originated from the “Nii-name Festival”(新嘗祭)which was a ceremony that honored the grain-rich food that had been around before 1945. It is similar to the American Thanksgiving, which comes from Pilgrims celebrating a good harvest.

On that day, kids often give handmade gifts to their mom and dad who are always working hard. They often make message cards with thank-you words or handmade mugs and so on. In addition, some companies may also give presents like gift certificates or items to express gratitude to the employees who are always working for the company.

It is an event so old that it is recorded in “Koji-ki” (Record of Ancient Matters), and it is a ceremony to “offer the new grains harvested in autumn to the gods to thank them for their rich blessings”. The word “new grain” is said to refer mainly to “new rice”, which means rice the first rice crop of the year. Thanks to God’s grace, Japanese enjoy the delicious new rice with gratitude.

New rice is rich in the natural sweetness and aroma of rice. Enjoying the natural flavor of the rice in its pure white form is a luxury, but if you add more flavor to it with broth and other ingredients in “takikomi gohan”(炊き込みご飯), the feeling of feast is inevitable! So, with the concept of enjoying a new rice with a new mood, we have picked up some popular “takikomi gohan” recipes with some novel ingredients.

【Ingredients】

450g Japanese short grain rice
150g Takenoko bamboo shoots
150g Renkon lotus root
100g Gobo burdock
4 Shiitake mushrooms
1 Carrot
1 Sachet dashi stock powder
600ml Water
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Sake
2 tbsp Mirin

【Recipe】

  1. Start by rinsing the rice in running water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
  2. Next, peel and slice the burdock root into thin slices. Soak the burdock root in water for 5 minutes along with the shiitake mushrooms. Remove and discard the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and slice the remaining part of the mushrooms, takenoko bamboo shoots, renkon lotus root, and carrots into small pieces.
  3. Add the sachet of dashi stock powder to 600ml water. Stir and bring to the boil. Add the shiitake mushrooms, burdock root, bamboo shoots, lotus root, and carrots and cook for 5 mins. Drain the vegetables and reserve the stock.
  4. Add the rice to your rice cooker or pan, then place the vegetables on top of the rice. Mix the dashi stock you drained and add some more water to make a total of 600ml. Pour the stock over the rice. Set the timer on your rice cooker to cook normally or follow our recipe for cooking Japanese rice if cooking in a saucepan. Once the rice is cooked, mix the vegetables and rice together well and serve.