Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Natsuko: 日本文化レッスンでございます。こんにちは、Natsukoです。
Yoshi: Yoshiです。
Peter: Peter here. Japanese culture class #31. As always, brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. Natsuko san coming in on a Saturday.
Natsuko: Yes. Those who expected Sakura san, I am very sorry.
Peter: Yoshi san, are you a little surprised?
Yoshi: A little bit.
Peter: Yeah Natsuko and Saturday just don’t go together. Now especially since we had a vacation, a national holiday.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Which is actually the topic of today’s conversation, but let’s just hold up on that a second especially since Thursday was a holiday, there was just Friday and that has for Natsuko san, 1, 2, 3, 4 day weekend written all over it.
Natsuko: No way!
Peter: Yes but thank you so much for making it in today. So speaking of that holiday, we are a little bit late with this culture class, but Natsuko san, can you tell us what we are going to talk about today?

Lesson focus

Natsuko: Yes. 勤労感謝の日(きんろうかんしゃのひ)
Peter: Known in English as Labor Thanksgiving Day. Now before we get into explaining about this holiday, let’s just take a look at the meaning because especially being an American, since the end of November is Thanksgiving, I know it’s just that mental association is there. Yoshi san, you spent 6 years in the US right?
Yoshi: Uh-huh.
Peter: When you hear this translation Labor Thanksgiving Day, what pops into your mind especially since it’s the end of November?
Yoshi: Big Turkey.
Peter: We are going to look into where this connection comes from and see if we can’t kind of separate it in people’s minds. Okay first, let’s take a look at the Japanese one more time. Natsuko san
Natsuko: 勤労感謝の日
Peter: It’s made up of three words.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: What is the first word?
Natsuko: 勤労
Peter: Labor.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Second word
Natsuko: 感謝
Peter: Thanks, and third word
Natsuko: の日
Peter: Day. Actually the の in there is possessive but if you are entering ______ (0:02:24) the Japanese, we have plenty of classes, plenty of classes that you could checkout where that came from. So the literal translation is Labor Thanks Day. So where does the giving come from? I guess it come from to give thanks for the labor?
Natsuko: Yes I think so. The concept of the holiday…
Peter: Yeah.
Natsuko: Is to thank people who is working. Isn’t it?
Peter: Oh yes and we should thank you both right now and we should thank everybody at japanesepod101.com
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Nathan, June, Mickey, Owai, Yoshi san, Natsuko san, Sakura san, anybody else. We don’t have to say Chigusa san. Help me out here guys.
Natsuko: Take san.
Peter: Take san, Takase san. Yoshi san, you are missing. We are getting all the good names.
Natsuko: Tekkai
Peter: Tekkai, Jeff San, Marvin San.
Natsuko: So we have to all thank each other.
Peter: Yes and anybody else we missed san. So that covers everybody. We want to say right now, is there a greeting on this day or something or we are just showing our appreciation for them おつかれさまでした。
Natsuko: Oh yes that would be good.
Peter: Natsuko san, can you help us out with that translation?
Natsuko: Ey! It’s so hard to translate that nuance.
Peter: Yoshi san…
Yoshi: Like Mr. or Mrs. Tired.
Natsuko: Tired?
Peter: Mr. and Mrs. Tired and kind of we interpret it as thank you for working so hard.
Natsuko: Yes umm.
Peter: So everybody at japanesepod101.com, everybody listening, all of our listeners so many lessons you’ve listened to. We should give them one too. Natsuko san, Yoshi san on three, 1, 2, 3.
Natsuko: おつかれさまでした。
Yoshi: おつかれさまです。
Peter: Ah!
Natsuko: おつかれさま?
Peter: Let’s try one more time 1, 2, 3.
Yoshi: おつかれさま。
Natsuko: おつかれさま。
Peter: Thank you again for everything you do for the community and did we mention Jeff San because we really should mention Jeff San. I think we did already. Okay so this is what this day is all about, appreciation for the hardworking people and well, I mean everybody works hard in their own way you know. Maybe I should say it to my wife too おつかれさまでした。
Natsuko: Definitely.
Peter: Yeah she works harder than anyone. Yoshi san, anyone you want to say…
Yoshi: I don’t know. I don’t work hard.
Natsuko: No you do.
Peter: So this day is just for the appreciation. Not just – And we should point that out. Not just work where you get a salary but any kind of work. Housework, all different kinds of work, volunteer work, just a day to show that appreciation. You deserve it for 1 day out of the year. All right, now with that said, let’s talk about a little bit about where this holiday came from. Natsuko san, you are on.
Natsuko: Well it was originally a day to celebrate the year’s harvest. So it’s more like thanksgiving day in US, isn’t it?
Peter: That’s right. Now what were you harvesting? Well not we, but you know what I mean. What were the people harvesting?
Natsuko: Rice.
Peter: Yes and Yoshi san, can you tell us a little bit about how important rice is to the Japanese culture and society and take it from here.
Yoshi: All the Japanese people are made of rice.
Natsuko: Yes we are made of rice. We are what we eat.
Peter: Now if you want to think about it that way, Yoshi san is correct, yeah. Raised on rice, just a fundamental part of Japan. Now it had such significance that the emperor actually took part in the festivities, actually eating the rice and offering rice to the god.
Natsuko: So it was extremely important day.
Peter: Extremely important and how far does this go back Natsuko san? Give us a rough idea, like couple of years?
Natsuko: No way. I heard that it started in 7th century.
Peter: Yep really…
Natsuko: Way back!
Peter: Really yeah. So this holiday is, it has a long tradition. Now again, this holiday has changed and the most dramatic change probably came post World War II.
Natsuko: I believe so.
Peter: Up until that point, there were imperial connections. Now we should point out that what is the name of that holiday?
Natsuko: 新嘗祭(にいなめさい)
Peter: Now this is translated as Harvest festival. That’s the final interpretation but when we look at the meaning of the word, it literally means Yoshi san?
Yoshi: It means new harvest or new crop like of the year.
Peter: And I think this is a common tradition throughout many cultures in the world. So this holiday, this tradition has continued on and you know, it is still celebrated in the imperial family.
Natsuko: Oh I see.
Peter: As the traditional holiday.
Natsuko: Ah-hah.
Peter: However the National holiday, labor thanksgiving day has changed.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: And we are going to talk a bit about that. Now Natsuko san, when did this day become an official holiday, a national holiday I should say?
Natsuko: 1948.
Peter: So then in the postwar period, there were changes to the constitution and this holiday was put in based off the tradition and inserted as a way to show appreciation for the laborers.
Natsuko: Yes. So not only for the agricultural laborers but in general.
Peter: Yeah I think that’s a excellent point Natsuko san. You know, pre-war, there was a large agricultural community. There were a lot of the – even a lot of the economy and there was a large labor force that worked in the agricultural sector but with the industrialization of Japan and the continued industrialization post world war II, the amount of people and the amount of resources dedicated to the agricultural sector has decreased while industry, services has increased. So that’s a really good point. This is an agricultural based holiday.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: And post World War II, it was kind of spread across the ranks of all workers.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: And we should point out home workers too in all these other people. Anyone who is working hard.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Because you know, to go out and work everybody, you need the support of your family.
Natsuko: Of course.
Peter: So they should be appreciated too.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Now this holiday falls on what day, Yoshi san?
Yoshi: November 23rd.
Peter: Yeah so it’s a fixed national holiday. It doesn’t rotate like some of the other holidays….
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: We talked about. What was that, that changing Mondays Yoshi san?
Yoshi: It’s a Happy Monday system or something.
Peter: Yeah the Happy Monday policy not part of that fixed holiday and this year, it fell on Thursday, two days ago.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Now if it falls on a Saturday, well that’s it, no day off. So we had a nice day off. Natsuko san, what did you do?
Natsuko: I thanked myself for my hard work. I bought myself a flower, hey what a good job!
Peter: You do do a very good job Natsuko san.
Natsuko: Yes. Now, nobody said to me, so I said to myself.
Peter: Natsuko san おつかれさまでした。
Natsuko: ありがとうございます。
Peter: Wait! Now, you mentioned the flower. Is this like a tradition?
Natsuko: I am not sure but it’s always nice to have a flower for someone.
Peter: Very good point. Now we know for next year, we will get you a flower.
Natsuko: Thank you.
Peter: What kind would you like?
Natsuko: Well any flower is nice.
Peter: Okay and Yoshi san, how was your day?
Yoshi: Ah it was nice.
Peter: What did you do, a rare day off in the office.
Yoshi: I worked hard to relax. So it was another busy day.
Peter: And you deserved it.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Me, I continued on working. Let’s get back to Natsuko. She wrote up a point. She mentioned the flower. What do you usually do for people on this day? Is there some kind of custom or is there some kind of tradition. What goes on, on these days? You know, in the US, I remember thanksgiving day you know very well, but in Japan, I’ve never really had a thanksgiving day, Labor Thanksgiving Day. I just – to me it was just another day off. What do people usually do on this day? Are there any customs or – help me out here. Help us out here.
Natsuko: I don’t think there is you know, kind of a fixed tradition for this day but because the origin is you know, harvest festival, I think you know, events related to agricultural things.
Peter: Food.
Natsuko: Yeah food are kind of popular on this day.
Peter: So like a family will eat together?
Natsuko: Yeah maybe and maybe in some parts, there are events thinking about people’s rights, workers rights.
Yoshi: I think there are like some farms are like opened up for the kids to go harvest.
Natsuko: Oh yes.
Yoshi: Like vegetables or…
Natsuko: Yes. So experiencing the raising of crop.
Peter: To get the fresh vegetables and take them home and eat them.
Natsuko: Yes probably.
Peter: To go through that whole process to kind of experience what happened in the past.
Natsuko: Yes and actually happening now too.
Peter: It’s all machines now Natsuko san.
Natsuko: Hah?
Peter: It’s all machines now Natsuko san
Natsuko: No way.
Peter: Really?
Natsuko: Yeah.
Peter: Handpicked?
Natsuko: Uhoo. Some of traditional vegetables, yeah they are handpicked.
Peter: Wow! Yoshi san, jump in any time.
Yoshi: Yeah. So I think the concept is you know, we – like everyone eat every day but we don’t know like how many people are involved like raising, you know, growing vegetables or even like catching fish, anything like we don’t really know what’s behind especially you know, kids don’t know like how farmers work or how hard it is to get food….
Natsuko: Yeah really.
Yoshi: Over to your table.
Peter: They thank just the supermarket.
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Go to the supermarket, get the food but it’s nice to experience that whole process, the whole chain.
Natsuko: So that’s where the harvest and labor comes together one day, right?
Peter: Yeah.
Natsuko: To thank the labor and thank the crop.
Peter: All right. Now when you were children, did you do anything on this day?
Natsuko: Sorry, I don’t remember any special events for myself.
Peter: Just a nice day off, right?
Natsuko: Yes.
Peter: Yoshi san?
Yoshi: Yeah I don’t think I did anything special but I must have gone out with my family but maybe that was about it.
Peter: See the honesty. We are not trying to make anything up here, we are very honest. We give you how it should be over the things that happen and also reality and the reality is for many people just like in many places around the world, holidays, they’ve become kind of personal time. I mean it’s just very busy. You know, people get busy with their own things and stuff, so…
Natsuko: Yes. So maybe that’s the best way to celebrate you know, take a day off for hard work.
Peter: Yes but just one Natsuko san. Okay so I think we are going to end this with, we would like to say to everybody around the world, everybody working hard, everybody listening or they are studying, working, taking care of things around the house, whatever you do, today, while you are listening, just really appreciate everything you’ve accomplished over the last year and from everyone here, we are going to give you the Japanese for good job or you worked hard. Ready, one more time on 3. This goes to everybody out there 1, 2, 3. おつかれさま。
Yoshi: おつかれさま。
Natsuko: おつかれさま。


Peter: That’s going to do it for this week. We will be back in two weeks another JCC. Tomorrow, we are back with the audio blog and lessons all through the week. Now stop by japanesepod101.com to pick up the PDF with the detailed write up of this holiday. Also, so much to bring it altogether. If this interested you and you are interested in the Japanese language, stop by so many more, so much more to give you better understanding of Japan and the Japanese language. All right, that’s going to do it for today.
Natsuko: じゃ、また来週。
Yoshi: またね。


Review & Remember All Kanji from this Lesson

Get complete breakdowns, review with quizzes and download printable practice sheets! Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

JapanesePod101.com Verified
November 25th, 2006 at 11:01 PM
Pinned Comment
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Mina-san, we hope you're having a great weekend wherever you!:grin:

April 14th, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.


Kon'nichiwa. You are right.

Actually "to get tired" is tsukareru but the idea is right.

It is said that Koku also refer to the amount of patch/ground that can product rice and vegetable, which are quite important to live.

I'm not sure whether rice was more valuable than gold but it could happen.

Thank you for your comment!

April 13th, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.


otsukaresamadeshita, otsukarasan and a few more combinations are also used a lot at work places when work is over.

because tsukaru means tired and sama isw a honorific suffix that shows respect.

by saying that that person looks tired(tired people have woked, lazy people haven't) it means he has worked and by adding the suffix sama you show your appreciation for that person and thus also for his work. so thanks for your effort.

yes rice is important, but was really really very important. because in the past the samurai where paid in rice and there status was reflected by the amount of koku(an counting system of how rice 1person needs to live from for a whole year) they where paid. although i'm not sure but i believe i have even heard that there was a period when rice was even more valuable than gold.

(i'm not sure which parts from above are true or incomplete, but this is what i remember or think i've heard)

please look into this and let me know.

John C. Briggs
November 28th, 2006 at 03:48 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.


I knew I was opening myself up for this type of problem when I decided to write in Japanese. I suppose I should drop my Western style quotes too and use 「sight」 rather than "sight".

In any case, thank you for the correction. 6 days to JLPT.

じゃ また


November 28th, 2006 at 03:21 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.


「"sight"じゃない」じゃなくて、「"sight"じゃなくて」ですよ。 :mrgreen:

John C. Briggs
November 28th, 2006 at 12:04 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.


  "sight" じゃない、"site" ですね。


November 27th, 2006 at 11:45 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Alain-san, we should be on the problem. Maybe it was even taken care of.:wink: Was due to the fact we were suppose to release an iLove video, but things got switched at the last minute.

Elfunko-san, thanks for the post and the holidays wishes!! I wonder who you're talking about, Sakura perhaps? The voice in the intro, right? She has an amazing voice!! Too cute!!

Luis-san, JapanesePod101.com e youkoso! Welcome to the community! Thank you so much for the feedback! It is great to know that you're using the sight just the way we intended it!! And thank you for the declaration! You officially made our day at work!:grin:

luis from Puerto Rico
November 27th, 2006 at 12:20 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello everyone I ..I'm just typing this to share my thoughts about this site..I really really like Japanese language and have been studying for a while now you guys at japanesepod101 make it so fun! Peter and Sakura and Natsuko and the rest Ijust got to say that your whole team makes learning Japanese so much fun I love the site and I'm telling all my friends about it , how fun CAN'T STRESS IT ENOUGH and HOW MUCH I'VE LEARNED, there have been so many words i've picked up that i often heard but didn't understand before in context untill I started studying here with you guys. I've searched around online for sites and read textbooks and I HEAR PROCLAIM JAPANESE101POD TO BE OFFICIALLY! THE BEST WAY TO ENJOY LEARNING JAPANESE ONLINE !! you guys keep up the good stuff I'm so looking foward to what you guys have to offer..Peter and the rest thank you so much! JAA NA

November 27th, 2006 at 07:45 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.


Happy Holidays to the crew at japanesepod101. Especially that guy who does the intro voice. He could calm a badger with a flaming case of hemmoriods. hahahaha Great voice man. I wish I had a radio voice that like.

November 26th, 2006 at 02:40 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Today is the 321th lesson

yesterday was the 327th

the day before the 319th.