A Tokiwa Thanksgiving

Sarah Noah
Major: Japanese, Travel & Tourism
Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I am one of those people who gets upset when everything turns Christmas-themed as soon as Halloween ends because there is clearly a holiday in-between, people! Well, at least there is if you are in the USA…
Here in Japan, some people know about Thanksgiving, but nobody has a reason to celebrate it. It is an American holiday, after all. Here are some of the things that makes it kind of hard to have a traditional Thanksgiving in Japan.

1. You’ll have class
Yes this only applies if you are a student, but the same applies for a job since you will most likely still have work on Thanksgiving as well. While many of your friends back home will be enjoying their 5 day weekend, you will be in class just like every other week. But honestly this helped me a bit. Because I was still in class, it honestly felt like just another day which was better than being really sad about it.

2. The food
I miss turkey. I really do. It is very difficult to find turkey in Japan, along with some other ingredients that I think really make the holiday. I had planned on making the stuffing my family always makes, but when I went to the store, I couldn’t find half of the ingredients…

3. The time difference
This is where it was hardest for me. Japan is 15 hours ahead of my home and 14 hours ahead of WMU. Because of this, schedules are essentially switched (i.e. when I’m going to bed people back home are getting up and vice versa). SoI went to bed the night of Thanksgiving Thursday not thinking too much about it, but it really hit me when I woke up. My morning was the time when everyone was celebrating or had just celebrated and my Facebook feed and Snapchat stories were filled with food and festivities. That was when it finally hit me and was honestly a moment I felt quite homesick.A Tokiwa Thanksgiving picture

But despite all the difficulties, we were able to celebrate! Thankfully I live/study with many Americans and people of other nationalities who were interested in celebrating with us! The Sunday after Thanksgiving, we invited other Americans and friends to our dorm for a Thanksgiving dinner. While the food wasn’t traditional, everybody brought something to share which meant eating not just American food, but food from all over the world. It was truly a great time and I was so thankful that I got to share my favorite holiday with so many new and wonderful friends. And in true Thanksgiving style, I ate way too much!


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