Tuesday , June 15 2021

Valentine's Day: Japan comes out of love with "mandatory chocolates"

Buyers buy chocolate on Valentine's Day at a department store.Copyright on the image
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Throughout the world, people use chocolate treats to express sweet Valentine's stuff.

But in Japan it's a bit more complicated. On Valentine's Day, only women give chocolate, not just to their partners but also to their male colleagues.

Critics say the practice sucks the whole Valentine's Day pleasure, and instead makes it a terrible duty where women risk breaking their colleagues if they leave someone.

Others say that "giri choco", which translates as a "chocolate obligation," is misunderstood and also slowly fades, as women prefer to give chocolate to their friends.

"Mandatory chocolate"

Of course, giving Valentine's chocolate can also be a romantic gesture. Women will often give "honmei choco" or "true chocolate feelings" to their partners.

But giri choco is rather an expression of gratitude to male colleagues.

A 2017 study by multinational company 3M found that nearly 40% of women surveyed planned to give workers a dumbbell.

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For most, it was just "thanks for general help and support". Others believe that this helps for a smoother job, while a minority believes it will be inconvenient not to participate.

She is not so cute

Chocolate journalist Ayumi Ichikawa says that many women have no problem with a dumbbell. After all, Japan has a gift culture, so it does not seem inappropriate.

"It's part of our tradition of giving gifts to people who" help us "… and we have the habit of giving gifts to friends and acquaintances every now and then to show our gratitude for" taking care of us "… without any sense of romantic love. "

But others are worried about the custom.

"Some believe the ritual is heavy, feeling that you have to do this, so chocolate is a duty," says Ishikawa.

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However, Shizuoka University professor Sejrhoe Takeshita says the tradition is not as "unjust as it seems".

On March 14, Japan celebrates the day when women give candy to men and, says Takeshita, "ladies can get their revenge."

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Dynamics of power

In a 1996 study by sociologist "office women", Ogassava Yuko says hirichoco is a way for women to exercise power over men by ranking them.

Those they admire will get chocolate and the incompetent will be able to buy their own treats.

"In other words, this can be seen as one of the few opportunities for women to exercise power over men, to resist the prevailing sex norms," ​​says Sachiko Horiguchi, an anthropologist at Temple University, Japan.

More than two decades later, this may seem a little less attractive to Japanese working women.

"I'm not sure if these professional women feel obliged to" exercise their authority "by gifts for dumb gifts," says Mrs Horiguchi.

Chocolate battle

Last year, the practice attracted an unexpected critic in the form of Belgian chocolate yearly. The company took out a full ad page calling for a giri choco.

"Valentine's Day must be a day when someone tells you your pure feelings, not a day when you should do something extra for the sake of a smooth relationship at work," the ad says.

They followed this year with a tweet of Yuraku Confectionery, the makers of Black Thunder, a cheap chocolate and self-titled "King of Chocolate Dummies."

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The tweeting encouraged Yuraku's employees to buy Godiva to give someone they love, which made Yuraku add "officially recognized by Godiva as a chocolate obligation" to his description on Twitter.

Chocolate producers have an obvious share in the discussion, and commercial interests – originally universal stores – bring Valentine's Day first in Japan.

Critics have also suggested that Godiva will lose some of this position because it is a luxury brand that few people give as dumbbells.

Japanese jam

Valentine's Day is extremely important for the Japanese pastry industry, with some stores making 70% of their annual business at the start of the holiday, says the chocolate journalist Ishikawa.

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But in the coming years, maybe less of it will be a dumbbell.

Mrs. Horiguchi says that Valentine's Day is becoming less and less, and the pressure to give dumbbells chocolate is decreasing, as women prefer to give chocolates to their friends.

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