Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"U Rock" "No Doubt" "Talk 2 Me"

Chocolate hearts. Check. Chocolate truffles. Check. Chocolate donuts. Check. Chocolate milk. Check. Commercialism. Check.

Valentine's Day does in fact exist in Japan, although in a slightly different form. The Japanese way is not to bombard the consumer with diamonds and roses, but rather with the sweetest thing in life...chocolate. The giving of "Valentines" is completely one-sided with women giving chocolate to friends, family, and significant others. In fact, half of chocolate sales in Japan happen during the week before Valentine's Day. There are two specific types of chocolate gifts that should be handed out by women to the men in their lives. One is called giri-choko, which translates as "obligation chocolate" and should be given to male coworkers, friends, etc. There is no implication of romantic feelings, only gratitude and friendship. The other is honmei-choko which is given to a love interest, usually with another small gift, like a necktie. Sounds like the men are getting the best of this deal, eh? Well, on March 14th (significantly one month later), men have to repay the women who gave them chocolate for Valentine's Day with more expensive chocolate. It appears chocolate makers have got this strategy down. March 14th is called "White Day" and I am beyond curious to see the men with their chcolate.

Today, the women at school hosted a luncheon, presumably for the men to enjoy, although everyone feasted. (Like the idiot gaijin that I am, I completely forgot that I was supposed to bring something until I heard a fellow teacher discussing taco rice and then I literally smacked my forehead.) There was some festive music playing and curry rice was enjoyed by all. I asked Taiko-sensei whether she got her husband something for Valentine's Day and she said that he doesn't really care whether he gets anything, so she doesn't usually buy anything. I like the spirit! I also tried to explain the agony in America of picking out the absolute perfect card at Hallmark, the rising costs of roses, the trials and tribulations of making reservations at a favorite restaurant, etc. She said it sounds like their Christmas Day, which is generally a day for romance here in Japan.

I bucked tradition in Japan and made little gift bags for all of the teachers with some candy and Strawberry Shortcake valentines from home. Remember how in grade school it was vitally important which classmate got which valentine? The girls you didn't really care for got the not-so-cute cards, the boy crush got the card with the most romantic sentiment, but not too obviously, of course, and you always read into the meanings of your own cards. Essentially for most children, Valentine's Day was a day of reckoning and a popularity contest, despite teachers' best efforts to keep everyone involved. And I realized, sadly, that I haven't risen above the hype. I pondered which teacher would get which message and gave one teacher the bigger card. My pettiness astounds me on a daily basis. Of course, the teachers squealed "kawaiiiiiii" over little Miss Strawberry and yet, I think the idea of the actual card inside was lost on them. Actual Valentine cards are not a huge deal. I put some chocolate in the cute little heart bags as well, so I want to see how I am repaid in one month. I'm thinking Godiva for my generic chocolate. And although, they may think they're cute, wait until they bite into one of those chalky conversation hearts. Redhots and conversation hearts. The very best in American confectionary.

Your Candy Heart Says "Hug Me"

A total sweetheart, you always have a lot of love to give out.
Your heart is open to where ever love takes you!

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a surprise romantic evening that you've planned out

Your flirting style: lots of listening and talking

What turns you off: fighting and conflict

Why you're hot: you're fearless about falling in love


Carly said...

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Brooke said...

Happy v-day. Thanks for the e-card. It woke Mike up. HA!

My candy heart says: Get Real.

Carly said...

Whew. At least I'm not the only one with a "Get Real" candy heart :)