My thoughts

February 14, 2009, 4:39 am
Filed under: Intermediate


It’s Valentine’s Day again, and as see and hear advertisements on TV, the radio, and in my email, I am reminded of Valentine’s Day in Japan.

In Japan, they have a slightly different interpretation of Valentine’s Day than we do here in the U.S.  Girls give the boys they like chocolate, in hopes that on White Day, which is exactly one month later on March 14, they will receive a present in return.  The present is supposed to be worth 3 times the value of the chocolate they received. So if you spent $10 on the chocolate you gave him, he should spend $30 on your present.

I had a friend who nervously gave the boy she liked chocolate, but was disappointed to learn that he did not like her back when she received nothing on White Day.  I had a Japanese boyfriend, so I went to an expensive department store and bought a beautiful box of chocolates for him.  On White Day, I got a little ring, but I am not sure if he spent 3 times what I spent on the chocolate…but I really did not care.

In Japan, women are also supposed to give “Giri Choco,” “Gift Chocolate” to their boss.  It’s an obligation.  I asked what happens when the boss is a woman and everyone said you do nothing.  I asked if she gets something on White Day, which was a no.  I thought this was seemed a little unfair, and my bosses were women, so I brought them all something, even though they were women.  I also put a piece of chocolate in the mailboxes of my male coworkers, even though I was their boss.  In the U.S., if you give out sweets at work or school, you generally give them to everyone, and there is no obligation to do so.

In the U.S., many men get really stressed about Valentine’s Day.  If I get anything, I am happy.  I don’t need chocolate, jewelry, or a fancy dinner, although those things are nice.  If I just get some flowers, I am happy.

Today I watched my male coworkers run to the market at lunchtime, returning with fresh flowers.  I don’t know what I will get, if I will get anything, tomorrow.  He is getting a bamboo plant.  You can take the girl out of Japan, but you can’t take Japan out of the girl.