Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

ImageIt’s Valentine’s Day in Japan!  Unlike in America, where boys are expected to get flowers/make date plans/buy gifts for their girlfriends (in the most heteronormative, gender-stereotyped version of the tradition, anyway), this means that all the girls in my school are going crazy with the thought of giving out chocolates to the boys they like.  That’s right, in Japan, on Valentine’s day, only girls are expected to make gestures of appreciation or affection to boys, usually through giving them expensive or homemade chocolate.  

ImageOr rather, there are two varieties of chocolate: “giri choco” (literally “obligation chocolate) and “honmei choco” (literally “true feeling chocolate”).  Girls and women give giri choco, usually inexpensive chocolate often bought in bulk, to their casual male acquaintances, coworkers, and friends as a gesture of appreciation for their help/friendship/etc.  However, they give honmei choco as a romantic gesture to their significant other, or to the boy for whom they have feelings.  The media has a field day with Valentine’s Day, and often advertises it as a chance for one to confess one’s true feelings for someone… of course, by buying the right expensive brand of chocolate or a variety of ingredients to make the perfect gift.  Yes, despite cultural differences, Valentine’s Day is by and large a consumer holiday in Japan, too.  

ImageBut, you might be thinking, it’s totally unfair that the girls have to do all this with no reward.  Luckily, in Japan, there’s White Day, one month after Valentine’s Day.  On March 14th, men give women cookies, other sweets, or small gifts to repay them for the chocolate they received on Valentine’s Day.  

As for me, however, I was not getting mixed up in all of that chocolate-giving without any idea what is or isn’t appropriate for my work setting and what have you.  However, I really wanted to make chocolate, so I decided to throw a little party for my close (female) friends, instead.  I’m sure a rulebreaker, I know.  However, I got to make the cutest chocolates ever thanks to everything in Japan being absolutely adorable, and my friends seemed to enjoy them, so that’s what matters, right?  

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