'When the gingko leaves fall, it is turkey season," Masahiro Omura tells me.

There is a 30-meter-deep well nearby, essential for keeping Omura's 600 birds healthy in the summer. (Chickens, turkeys and ducks droop in the Japanese summer and sometimes die from heat stroke.) We are standing directly below his turkey coops in the town of Monzen, south of Wajima city on the western coast of the Noto Peninsula. My family has been buying turkeys from him for several years now, but a decade or two ago we had another turkey farm in Yamagata send us live chicks in the spring that we ate in the fall. That farm is now closed and the sending of live chicks has been suspended by the delivery companies.

In the almost 30 years I have been in Japan, I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner almost every year for countless numbers of friends. In our heyday, we served 20 adults and 20 children — requiring staggered courses for the two groups and days of cooking. I have stuffed the turkeys with blue cornbread and sausage, bread and celery, and even foie gras. But always we had our own turkeys, so the stuffing almost did not matter. The turkeys shone on their own.