Read about the origin, history and celebration of Thanksgiving Day (Kinrō Kansha No Hi) in Japan.
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Thanksgiving Day in Japan

Origin and History of Thanksgiving Day in Japan

Honen Matsuri is an annual event celebrated by the people of Japan. According to the official Japanese history, Tamahime (the daughter of the feudal lord) was betrothed to Takeinadane. Later it is said that Takeinadane was killed in the battle and the area was fully controlled and developed by his wife, children and powerful father-in-law. Hence after Tamahime's death, she is considered as the principal deity (also called kami) by the people of Japan. The day is observed to establish a spiritual bond between the people and the spirits. The word ‘Hōnen’ means rich harvest and ‘matsuri’ means festival and worship. It is also believed that Japanese deities preside over living, dead or inanimate things on this day. Thus, the event is celebrated to preserve their goodwill. Honen Matsuri is also frequently referred to as a festival of celebrating fertility and renewal. In Japan, penis is considered as a symbol of strength and power.

Local name: Kinrō Kansha No Hi

Ways to celeberate Kinrō Kansha No Hi in Japan

Hōnen Matsuri is held at Tagata Jinja on March 15th of each year. Tagata Jinja is an ancient shrine which is believed to be 1500 years old and it stands on the site of Tamahime's residence. The day is celebrated mostly with a procession symbolizing the visit of the male Takeinadane to the powerful and waiting female Tamahime. Japanese believe that newly made objects express more purity and vitality. Hence every year they carry the cypress tree to the shrine to carry out the purification. Once the tree is done with the purification rituals it is then taken before the master craftsman to shape it. Every year they carve a new giant wooden phallus from the purified large hinoki (cypress) tree. It is this wooden phallus that will be paraded and then placed into the Shinmeisha shrine with prayers. On this day many vendors sell different kinds of traditional festival foods. The list includes Takoyaki (a round ball made of flour with octopus inside), okonomiyaki (a food made from flour and vegetables on a flat grill), sweets, yakitori (chicken on a stick), oden (vegetable stew), beer, sake, corn on the cob and yakisoba (a kind of stir-fried noodles).