Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gimme That Giri Choco!

[Note: Most of the readers of this little blog don't live in Japan, and we here at Kyklops are bombarded with daily requests for the real lowdown on the Japanese and their customs. As part of our ongoing mission to slake the thirst of our faithful readers for accurate and complete coverage of the economic and cultural behemoth that is Japan, we proudly present the following article on Valentine's Day in Japan.]

Valentine's is a special day in Japan. Yes, today men all over Japan can look forward to receiving a special little something from their wives. In fact, there's a good chance they'll receive it from pretty much every woman they work with! Yummy... What? No, not that you filthy-minded louts! On Valentine's Day in Japan women give chocolate to men...

Yes, in much the same way that Christmas is for screwing, New Year's is a contest to see who can be the most boring, and Green Day is not a band, the Japanese have taken another Western "tradition" and twisted it to suit their own nefarious ends. (Research is still underway to determine just what those ends actually are...) Valentine's Day in Japan focuses on something called giri choco (lit. "obligation chocolate"), and women in Japan are "obliged" to give chocolate to every stinking scumbag they live with, work with, or work for.

On a possibly related note, when I first came to Japan I was struck by how few of the murders that I read about in the papers were committed with guns. Poison seemed to be rather popular...


  1. I wonder why it seems that everything foreing causes a confused consuming frenzy over there? It might be a biased perception, but it's not the first case I've heard about.

  2. Well, I won't say you're wrong, Usual Stuff. I would say, though, that it's only the meaning or concept behind the occasion that's changed over here. Valentine's, Christmas, etc. are pretty much established "consumer frenzies" in North America as well...

  3. Ja,ja,ja. Yes, you're absolutely right, but Japanese always seem to look much more enthusiastic and frenzied about new trends. Well, at least that's my perception.

  4. This is an outrage! Valentine's day is strictly for women. Even giving a gift to your husband is a very dubious practice. Mandatory chocolate for the jokers you work with/for? It goes against everything Saint Valentine fought for... which was, um, something to do with fresh cut flowers and idolatry, I think.

  5. Usual Stuff, I think it's probably true that Western media often give the impression that the Japanese are strange by focusing on the weirdness (hell, I do the same thing here, but I hope it's not as misleading...).

    Emarie, if it makes you feel any better (although I have my doubts!), Japan has something called "White Day" (March 14th). On White Day men are supposed to give cookies to women. It's certainly true, though, that in Japan neither of these days carry any romantic connotations whatsoever.

    By the way, Emarie, congratulations on having been chosen one of the best stories in the fiction contest! I really liked your story and it was one of the ones I voted for (honestly!).