Execs pray for chickens of the past and future on “Chicken Thanksgiving.”

With another Japanese Christmas in the books, we’ve often talked about the unique holiday custom here of eating fried chicken, particularly that of Kentucky Fried Chicken. However, there is another KFC-related ritual in Japan that even those who live here are surprised exists.

When visiting the famous shrines Higashi-Fushimi Inari in Tokyo and Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka in June, one might come across a group of soberly-dressed men and women attending what looks exactly like a standard memorial service. It’s only if the adjacent signboard was properly read that anyone could tell this was in fact “Chicken Thanksgiving” (Chicken Kanshasai).

▼ “Looks like there was another Chicken Thanksgiving.”

Chicken Thanksgiving is an annual event where the president of KFC Japan as well as other top brass and key people along the supply chain such as meat processors, sales reps, and seasoning producers, gather in honor of chickens. 

J-Town Net spoke with a KFC rep who said that the practice has been going on since 1974 as a way for the company to show respect for the roughly 22 million birds slaughtered each year for Japanese restaurants, and to pray for safe and healthy meat during the following year.

▼ Even KFC’s Colonel Sanders Statues have attended the proceedings.

Despite it being such a long-running custom of such a high-profile company, a lot of Japanese people were surprised to learn of the existence of Chicken Thanksgiving.

“I never knew there’s such a thing as Chicken Thanksgiving.”
“They actually mention it on the KFC website. It’s not just an urban legend.”
“Oh yeah! I remember seeing it on the schedule when visiting the shrine once and thought it was strange.”
“That’s very considerate of them to show respect for the animals.”
“I like KFC, but even I’m still surprised they would go to these lengths.”
“Wow. I need to learn more about my own country.”

KFC told J-Town Net that they were actually surprised at the response Chicken Thanksgiving gets whenever it’s mentioned on social media. Their surprise is understandable since such ceremonies aren’t all that uncommon in Japan.

Following the Shinto principle that everything has a spirit and should be respected as such, funeral-like ceremonies are often conducted for inanimate objects, especially one’s in the form of people or animals such as dolls or statues.

Sony made headlines around the world a little while back when they held a service for dozens of their AIBO robot dogs before dismantling them for spare parts. Also, at the end of the Sapporo Snow Festival, each of the massive snow sculptures are blessed before getting torn down.

So if robots and snowmen get such a treatment, it shouldn’t come as a shock the chickens would as well. If you too would like to pay respects to your last bucket of extra crispy or Double Down, be sure to stop by the next Chicken Thanksgiving with an offering of seven herbs and spices.

Source: J-Town Net
Featured image: Twitter/@kano56
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