Thursday, March 13, 2003

Today marks the end of the Valentine's Day cycle here in Japan. That's right, cycle. Valentine's Day in Japan is celebrated quite differently from America. I think I've posted about this phenomenon last year, but I'll post it again. So, here it goes.
February 14th is of course Valentine's Day. That's the same. But that's pretty much where the similarities stop. Unlike the American version where Valentine's Day is mostly a day for couples, the Japanese version uses Valentine's Day as a sort of "Sadie Hawkins" day... that is, the girls pass out chocolates to the guys they like. The guys basically just sit back and see if they get any chocolates that year. However, there's a corollary. A girl might give a chocolate to a guy she doesn't really like. These are called "giri choco" or obligatory chocolates. That is, a Japanese girl may use this occasion to thank a male boss or friend. This of course lends itself to mass confusion. Is this a "giri choco" or the real thing?
This brings me to the whole cycle thing. If a guy receives chocolate on Valentine's Day and they're interested in that girl, they're expected to give chocolate back in return within a month. How does this work with the whole "giri choco" thing thrown in the mix? Well, somehow, assuming they've received chocolate on Valentine's Day, the guys are supposed to be able to know which are "giri" and which are showing interest. And from there, the guys are not only expected to give back to those he has an interest in, but also, to each of the "giri" givers. Oh, so confusing! Today's March 14th (aka White Day), the end of that month time period, thus, ending the cycle.

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