Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentine's Day - Japan style

Honmei-choko, giri-choko & eko-choko.Chocolate, chocolate everywhere...
The Japanese have always been pretty good at adapting ideas from other countries to use in their own land, or re-package and even re-sell. In fact, as part of the modernisation process of the country people were sent all over the world to look at school systems, political systems, etc - but we'll leave that for another time. Valentine's Day seems to have appeared in Japan in the mid 20th Century and since then has been turned into a marketer's dream. How's it work ...
February 14th is Valentine's Day. This is the day that girls / women give chocolates to boys / men. "Honmei-choko" refers to chocolates given to boyfiends. On top of that there is also "giri-choko". The word "giri" in Japanese implies an obligation of some sort. Therefore, "giri-choko" are given to the boss or males who you wish to show "gratitude" to. This could well include people (ie a section head or boss) that you really do not like. An ideal quite typical of relationships between people in Japan. "Eko-choko" is new to me, but apparently an attempt to make the wrapping of Valentine gifts more ecologically friendly. The Japanese are renowned for using copious amounts of paper to wrap presents.
But wait there's more... March 14th is when commercialism is taken over the top. That's the day, known as "white day", when males return the favour and buy confectionery (originally marshmellows, hence the name "white day") for the females who they received chocolates from. I assume that this can get complicated.

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