On Nov. 23, Japan will celebrate Labor Thanksgiving Day. Chances are it won’t look anything like what Americans will take part in on their Thanksgiving on Nov. 26.
The ideal way to spend Thanksgiving in the United States (and in Canada, which celebrated the holiday on Oct. 12) is by enjoying a feast with your loved ones in the comfort of your own home. North Americans living in Japan, however, may not have access to the essentials that will make this kind of experience possible — maybe there’s a lack of ingredients, cooking spaces are small or you don’t have an oven. But it’s not impossible to get a taste of home if you know where to look.
First, let’s give thanks for the Internet. There are a couple of online stores that sell the ingredients needed for traditional holiday foods. Everything from desserts to side dishes can be found at the Foreign Buyers’ Club, which also has turkeys. If we’re talking turkey, though, The Meat Guy also has you covered and has some alternatives when it comes to a main dish.
If you’re not able to cook this Thanksgiving, consider having your dinner delivered. The cost can be a bit high, but Luca Deli catering provides a prepared Thanksgiving dinner service of turkey, stuffing, gravy and more. Keep in mind that depending on where you live in Tokyo, delivery can be more expensive.
Think outside the box if you’re looking to have an at-home dinner party. A potluck with friends can be just as memorable and doesn’t need to consist of the usual traditional dishes.
The other option for celebrating Thanksgiving in Japan is to stop by a restaurant. If you go down this route remember to make a reservation soon as spaces are filled very quickly. Some places may even set time limits, so be aware of any rules in place.
Good Honest Grub and T.Y. Harbor Brewery provide meals on the lower end of the price scale ranging from ¥3,500 to ¥4,500. If you want to loosen your belt for a Thanksgiving buffet check out The Pink Cow. The Thursday and Friday events are already sold out, but there are a few spots left at ¥3,500 per person on Saturday for a special post-holiday meal.
Lawry’s The Prime Rib and Union Square Tokyo are more high end and provide a fancier Thanksgiving experience. At Lawry’s you can reserve a whole turkey for four people for ¥12,000 — but make sure to get your order in by Nov. 22. It may sound expensive but it’s also a lot easier than preparing a meal of the same size for a group that large at home.
Most cities with sizable communities of non-Japanese put on some kind of Thanksgiving special. Shooters Sports Bar and Grill in Nagoya is offering dinner plates for ¥2,100 (plus tax) and even offers upgrades for bigger plates and pumpkin pie. For ¥19,000, Shooters also provides a party feast to go.
In Osaka, NWI International Fun Space is providing two weekend chances for Thanksgiving at ¥2,500 a plate (if you book by Nov. 26) and free meals for kids. There is also a Sunday brunch that costs ¥1,000.
Thanksgiving hasn’t caught on in Japan like Halloween has, but the locals still appreciate a good meal. And if you’re not able to partake in a good feast this time, remember Christmas is just around the corner.