Valentine, Valentine, Valentine's Day in Japan!! Did you already prepare
for your special loved one on Valentine's? Valentine's in Japan is a little
bit different than in the US. It is mega marketing in Japan. On Feb 14,
consumers purchase 25% of the total annual chocolate sales in Japan.
young lady, I used to work for a Japanese company in Tokyo and on February
14 I would carry tons of chocolate to the office, running to each floor and
giving chocolate to my boss and my male co-workers. Yes, this is the day for
men in Japan, not for us women. This is called "Giri Chocolate". The word
Giri means obligation in Japanese and we jokingly use this term to indicate
that giving the chocolate is something that is expected.
We of course buy chocolate for our special loved one too. This will be
more expensive and very special chocolate. Japanese department stores
prepare two kinds of chocolate gifts; one for Giri-chocolate and another for
Honmei-Chocolate (only for a serious love). Obviously, Japanese women spend
more money for Honmei-chocolate. Limited chocolate from Europe by air can
cost about $200 US.
Men, if you receive chocolate from Japanese woman which cost less than
$3.00, I'm sorry, that is likely Giri-chocolate and
she is not so serious about you, but she meant to say thank you. (However,
my husband loves this chocolate, he claims Japanese chocolate is not so
sweet and has a real cocoa taste.)
For school girls, this is a more serious tradition. This is the day to tell
their Honmei-person (person they have a crush on) that they like them, to
confess her feelings to him with Honmei-chocolate. On Feb 14, a school boy
will know how popular he is in school. Some boys carry bags of chocolate
back home while unfortunate school boys go home with none
This is heaven
and hell for all school boys in Japan.
To balance the gift giving, another holiday called White Day is
celebrated on March, 14th. On White Day, men return the favor to women who
purchased chocolate on Valentine's Day for them. Gifts from the men can be
chocolate too, but sometimes lingerie may be given. In Japan, a man may even
give lingerie to a female co-worker on this day. This is not really a
serious invitation, it's just for fun. On one White Day I received two gifts of lingerie from bosses of mine.
The new Christian Dior slip and panties were most appreciated. I was happy
to receive them but it wasn't personal as most women in the department
received similar gifts.
In Japanese culture this exchange of gifts on Valentine's Day and White
Day smoothes relationships between coworkers and friends, giving us an
entertaining break from our busy and stressful jobs.