The Chocolate Economy

14 02 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day from Kyoto!

Japanese Valentine’s Day is a complete reversal of the Western tradition. In Japan, it is usually the day when men of all ages, no matter how romantically dis/connected, receive chocolates from women. This means that women in companies, schools and other large organisations are expected to give boxes of chocoreeto to their male co-workers. This kind of VD chocolate-giving is called giri-choco (obligation chocolates). Japanese chocolate companies make most of their profits thanks to this custom. However, because this year’s VD fell on a Sunday, sales of giri-choco were expected to be very low. Instead, the trend of tomo-choco (friendship chocolates) – giving choco to female friends –  has been mentioned in local media over the last week.

Today, I went to the frenzied basement food hall of Isetan at Kyoto station to check out choco sales. I certainly didn’t see any men buying chocolates, or even near the chocolate stalls, but there were a lot of women queuing up to buy expensive little pink boxes of what must surely have been tomo-choco.

March 14  – White Day – is supposed to be when men reciprocate. I’ll post then and let you know!




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