Feb 13

Love is in the air~ everywhere!

Especially in Japan!  Valentine’s Day is celebrated on two different dates in Japan. On February 14, females present gifts to their boyfriends or any man close to them. The favour is returned to ladies on the White Day celebrated on March 14 when men pamper women who gave them gifts a month before on Valentines Day. In my six years of living in Japan I never really got a solid answer as to why this happens but I think it’s kind of sweet–pardon the pun.

There is a strong tradition of women gifting chocolates to men on Valentines Day in Japan. Two types of chocolates are popular for Valentine’s Day. Giri-choco is bought for friends, bosses, colleagues and close male friends. ‘Giri’ in Japan means “obligation” so this type of chocolate has no romantic association. Giri chocolates are available and purchased in any department store or convenience/grocery store. Ladies make sure they pass on giri-choco to please all men close to them as it is seen that men who do not receive any chocolate feel embarrassed. Girls in the private school where I taught lavished chocolate on all their male teachers.  The men loved it!

Meow~ I ‘rub you!

Chocolates for boyfriends, lovers or husbands are special ones, called hon-mei.  Many Japanese females think that it is not true love if they purchase Valentine’s day chocolates for their boyfriend so hon-mei -choco is usually prepared by girls themselves. Men feel lucky (and probably relieved!) if they receive hon-mei (meaning “prospective winner”)-choco on Valentine’s Day.

As chocolate is the most popular gift for the occasion, days before the festival department and grocery stores stock their shelves with chocolates to lure customers.  It is estimated that more than half the chocolate sold in a year is sold around Valentines Day in Japan.  A popular pizza chain in Japan prepares heart-shaped pizza on Valentine’s Day.  Yes, I admit I bought one…for myself!  I couldn’t help myself.  Only in Japan, neh?!

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