A Valentine’s Chocolate Conspiracy

On Valentine’s Day in Japan, women give the men in their lives honmei or giri choco. Can you guess which is which?


By KAZUKO MONOBE

Japan consists of 6,852 islands and only 430 are inhabited. On the world map, it is a group of islands in the northern part of the Pacific, isolated and remote from the rest of the world.

Since there was not much influence from outside of Japan, she reared her own unique culture. It is somewhat like Galapagos Islands, which developed unique species of fauna and flora.

Since the dawn of its history, Japanese people have been fascinated with the unseen world beyond the vast ocean. They felt anything that drifted to Japan shores was mysterious and precious.

Even in this day of instant communication anywhere on the globe, they take in foreign ideas, customs, materials and languages.

However, once they take in those ideas, they right away start changing those to fit into the uniquely Japanese lifestyle. The end results are quite different from the originals.

For instance, on Valentine’s Day, girls, not men, must give chocolates to the men in their lives. He could be the one she secretly has a crush on or her boyfriend or her husband. Men don’t have to go out and buy flowers or chocolates for their girls. Why men are on the receiving end is a puzzle to anyone.

In the workplace, girls feel they can’t single out just one man in front of other men. The men who don’t receive Valentine’s gifts might feel left out or they might lose face. The result: she gives Valentine’s gifts to all the men in her workplace.