Celebrating Thanksgiving in Tokyo

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Pumpkin pie surrounded by small pumpkins with pink text that reads "Celebrating Thanksgiving in Tokyo"

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Tokyo


Thanksgiving is a Japanese holiday in November — though not in the way many might think.

In Japan, it's meant to be a day to celebrate the people whose hard work benefits society, like police officers and firefighters. It's celebrated every November 23 and is primarily about giving thanks (as the name implies). Families may get together for a meal, but you're more likely to find school children distributing cards and artwork to members of the community.

American Thanksgiving, however, is very much about dinner. Expressing gratitude to loved ones is on the menu, of course, but it's not Thanksgiving if you're not loosening your belt buckle at the end of your meal!

Celebrating American Thanksgiving, which is on November 24 this year, requires a bit more flexibility and planning in Japan than it might in the States, but it can be done. See below for our suggestions for Thanksgiving in Tokyo and enjoy the opportunity to eat, drink and be thankful!

Dining Out

While it's customary in the United States to prepare a home-cooked meal for family and friends, heading to a restaurant in Tokyo instead does mean far fewer dishes to wash!

There are several spots in the city that offer a superb Thanksgiving dinner experience. One of our absolute favorites is Soulfood House in Azabu Juban. Your family can feast on the classics, like cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce, while also enjoying a delicious helping of BBQ ribs. For a very fancy Thanksgiving, head to The Oak Door, located in the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. You can get all the fixings in the elegant dining room — or choose to order enough for four to-go. And for a Thanksgiving dinner with an unbeatable view, T.Y. Harbor in Shinagawa is it. The menu is pretty straightforward, but enjoying your meal with the Tokyo Bay in front of you is definitely something to be thankful for.

Cooking at Home

Tokyo is a massive city, so sourcing ingredients from abroad is often as easy as heading to your nearest Life or Peacock. And most expats in Tokyo can tell you exactly where you need to go to get your hands on those groceries from home that you can't find elsewhere: National Azabu, Nissin World Delicatessen, or, if you have a membership and a car, Costco. If you need a specific spice, sauce, or side dish from an old family recipe, your best bet is to head to one of those three.

And for the most important ingredient — the turkey — check out The Meat Guy. You are probably aware that turkey is tough to come by in Japan, especially whole turkeys. But The Meat Guy has that and more! From 2kg to 14lbs, there's a turkey for every family size. If you don't have an oven or just don't want to spend your day roasting a turkey, you can always order individual breasts, wings, drumsticks, or legs.

Thanksgiving Extras

Thanksgiving dinner is obviously the star of the holiday, but if you really want to recreate an authentic American experience, you'll want to have football on TV.

Because of the time difference, you won't be able to watch live games until late Thursday evening or very early Friday morning (and will need the assistance of a VPN). So to honor the spirit of the day, we recommend streaming the classics: Rudy, Friday Night Lights (movie or series!), Any Given Sunday, Remember the Titans, and Jerry Maguire (this one is a bit of stretch, but we're keeping it!).

To top off the ambiance, light a fragrant candle. Diptyque recently launched a seasonal scent, "inspired by the pumpkin pies we all love." Yankee Candle also offers numerous smells to choose from: apples, cranberry, pecan pie, pumpkin spice and so many more.

However your family chooses to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy it with the ones you love!

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