Thanksgiving in Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
Oct 24, 2022

Thanksgiving in Kumamoto

Like many countries, Japan celebrates Thanksgiving each November. However, things are slightly different in the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan has a Labor Thanksgiving Day that is on the 23rd of November each year rather than on the fourth Thursday of November, like it is in the United States. It’s a day to honor workers and, although it’s not an official public holiday, many take the day off and families typically commemorate with a Japanese meal in the evening.

With a growing number of expats in Japan, the western-style Thanksgiving with its turkey and pumpkin pie feast has begun to take off in the country in recent years. Families will purchase food and drink from local suppliers to prepare their own spread or sometimes head out to a restaurant offering a special Thanksgiving menu.

Kumamoto doesn’t have the same number of expats from countries like the United States or Canada that you might find in bigger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. This means that there aren’t yet many eateries serving up the traditional Thanksgiving spread – but give it time! That doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate in style in a local restaurant that sells western meals to give you a taste of back home. You can also buy in your own supplies to cook up a turkey spread with all the trimmings at home.

Here are a few suggestions.

Barron Steak House

If you can’t find – or don’t want – turkey, then steak is not bad as an alternative! Kumamoto has several fine steakhouses and Barron’s is up there among the very best rated. Perched on the edge of Ginza Dori street on the second floor of the building, this restaurant has been feeding customers with prime cuts of wagyu beef for over 50 years. It’s a foodie favourite but very small – less than 15 seats in total – so book early to enjoy an intimate fine dining experience.

Address: Utsunomiya Building 2F, 1-9-4 Shimotori, Chuo Ward, 860-0807


You might not know it but McDonald’s is a big thing in Japan, up there with KFC in terms of successful American fast food imports. In fact, there are 27 McDonald’s branches in Kumamoto. The chain already regularly offers themed Halloween, Christmas and Easter specials so it probably won’t be long before it adds a Thanksgiving turkey burger and slice of pumpkin or pecan pie. Until then, you can choose from mainstays such as the Big Mac or Quarter Pounder or a local special like the Terikayi Chicken Filet.


Jeff’s World Bar

Opened a quarter of a century ago in 1998, Jeff’s World Bar has reached legendary status as the international hangout place in Kumamoto’s city center. You can head there any day of the week and will likely meet an assortment of travelers and expats from all across the globe. It has a great atmosphere and is open until the early hours most nights, when the music, alcohol and good times flow. Early evening is a good time if you fancy a sit down and some straightforward pub grub with the option of celebrating Thanksgiving with a bit of a party afterwards.

Address: 1 Chome 4-3-1 Shimotori, Chuo Ward 860-0807


There are, of course, an abundance of Japanese restaurants specialising in the local cuisine throughout Kumamoto if you want a Thanksgiving celebration with an eastern twist. Matsuya is a popular chain with expats from places such as the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom as it has an easy-to-understand menu and there are often English-speaking staff. Choose from a range of gyudon bowl and curry dishes, with set menus also available for under 1,000 yen.

Address: 9-4 Shinshigai, Chuo Ward 860-0803

Thanksgiving Supplies

For a more traditional turkey feast at home with the family or friends, you can get everything you need to create a fantastic occasion from the following suppliers:

Horizon Farms: for a range of meat, dairy, vegetables and baked goods
The Meat Guy: festive meats plus fruit and vegetables
Costco: deals on a variety of groceries
Seijo Ishii: perfect for sides and sauces

Marcus Quigmire from Florida, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Justin Hanus editor

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