It’s that time of the year. ‘Twas the night before American Thanksgiving as I write this, not a salaryman was stirring, not even Takashi-san who just put in a 15 hour day for zero overtime pay. Especially not that guy. But Thanksgiving 2019 comes at a particularly well deserved time in old Nippon, as the last public holiday was on November 4th and the former Emperor’s birthday is no longer celebrated on December 23rd (Yep, that’s a holiday). There actually was a public holiday on November 23rd called Labor Thanksgiving Day (勤労感謝の日 Kinrō Kansha no Hi), but in perfect harmony with the Japanese obsession with working themselves to death it was effectively canceled because it fell on a Saturday. That’s right. Holidays that fall on a Saturday are not celebrated the following Monday. So if you are one of those rare workers in Japan who only goes to the office Monday through Friday and takes a <gasp> two day weekend, and your place of business is in the public sector or with a rare private sector business that actually cares about the well being of it’s employees — guess what? No Labor Thanksgiving Day for you. Oh, the irony!
Anyway, that being said, this American Thanksgiving I really used as a kickoff to the holiday season. The artificial tree was already put up several weeks ago, so decor and ambiance is in full effect. Last Saturday we took a trip over to Costco to stock up on holiday food. For those who never had the pleasure of experiencing a Costco in Japan, just imagine the busiest you have ever seen a discount warehouse store in your homeland, double or triple that combustion, throw in some Japanese in-laws and their absurdly conservative shopping habits, stir it all up and BAM! You got the perfect storm.
So while we stocked up on multiple full sized chickens, assorted meats, two dozen banana muffins, assorted foodstuffs, and some Christmas present odds and ends all totaling in excess of ¥40,000, my in-laws found a head of cabbage, some pickled ginger, and about a week’s worth of fermented soybeans (natto). Oh, and grapes. They went a little crazy and bought grapes.
The contrast between our two shopping carts couldn’t have been more startling.
But it was well worth it. This past Saturday, my wife and I gorged ourselves on roasted chicken with homemade stuffing, listened to Accuradio Christmas stations, watched a bad episode of Grey’s Anatomy and passed out, dreaming that December passes quickly so we can do it all over again on Christmas Day.