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Thursday, February 15

Oh, Yeah… Happy Valentine’s Day… Japanese Style!

Although being here in Japan, the celebration is just not as fun as back in the States. Back home, it is all about sending big bouquets of flowers to your love as well as boxes of delicious chocolates. If you are extra lucky perhaps some fancy trinket of affection. And this is mainly just handed over to the women!

Here in Japan, the story is quite different. In the land of the rising sun, only the women give presents to men. The history is two fold. First, Japanese women had been shy in expressing their love for people in the past. From what I hear, this has changed quite a bit. The second part is that chocolate companies in Japan (producing some of the best chocolate I have ever had, I might add) used the holiday to boost their sales. How very romantic.

Even less romantic is the fact that Japanese women are not only obligated to give a gift to just their love, but also to all male colleagues, friends and even bosses. So a gift for Valentines given by a woman can either be a romantic gesture, a sign of friendship or merely an obligation showing their gratitude for making sure a paycheck is handed to them every other week. Really obliterating the romance of the holiday, aren’t they?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly never want to feel duty-bound to such a trivial holiday. KH and I have never been big on this holiday and usually just enjoyed a nice dinner. Once, the year after we married, he bought me flowers that mimicked my bridal bouquet… a most touching gesture. However, these were black magic roses which cost a fortune any other time of the year. I truly appreciated the thought and the gesture but told him there was no need for that on the days that they quadrupled the prices. Don’t worry… I am not so crass as to tell him that day. It was a few weeks later. And he was grateful.

The gifts given in Japan are generally of the chocolate variety although I hear that they can be more expensive even to the extent of things like IPods. There is one more part to the Japanese Valentine’s... men are supposed to return the gifts to the women on White Day, March 14th. However, a friend here buys the compulsory chocolates every year for her male coworkers and mentioned that she often gets nothing in return. Lazy men.

Well, I did do my part. Unfortunately, Kimono Hubby has been away in Tokyo for a conference since the beginning of the week so I gave him his gift early. I won’t go into it, but I put a ton of thought and romance into it and then spent another hour designing the box and wrapping it up. It wasn’t about expense. It was about showing love like the holiday should. On Valentine’s Day, I joined Kimono Hubby in Tokyo for dinner out at a favorite Indian place of ours. There, I surprised him with one more gift I happened to run across while shopping in the city that very day… Japanese porcelain cufflinks with intricate, green dragons on them. He of course asked why I spent more than usual this year and I knew it was time to fess up. That very day while I was shopping in the trendy parts of the city, I came across a Dooney & Bourke tote that cost more than I have ever spent on one purse. I succumbed… and bought it. I wasn’t being frivolous. I had looked for something like this for years and unfortunately (and fortunately) I found it at a cost that was more than I would normally shell out for an item. As I was handing over the money though, I had one very important thought – “I’m just showing me that I kind of like being me.” I consider it, therefore, an obligatory chocolate to myself. Yum!

1 comment:

Mike S said...

A gift to yourself generally ensures a grateful recipient:)