Japanese Girls Hate Valentines

Really. Thanks to a concentrated marketing effort, Valentine's Day has emerged in Japan as a day when women are obliged to give chocolate even to people they don't like.

Those who work in offices often feel compelled to give chocolates to all their male co-workers, sometimes at significant personal expense.

This chocolate is known as giri-choko, in Japan, from the words giri ("obligation") and choko, a common short version of chokorēto, meaning "chocolate".

By a further marketing effort, a reciprocal day called White Day has emerged. On March 14, men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day.

Many men, however, give only to their girlfriends. Originally, the return gift was supposed to be white chocolate or marshmallows; hence "White Day". However, men have interpreted the name differently and lingerie has become a common gift.

According to an Internet survey, 70 percent of working women said they would be happy if there was no tradition of giving "obligatory chocolates" to their boyfriends or colleagues.

Nearly 60 percent said they felt unhappy as Valentine's Day approached, citing the cost and time it takes to shop for the gifts, which are finely calculated to express just the right emotions toward a boss, a colleague or a true boyfriend.

The custom has grown into a sweet 50 billion yen ($424.6 million) market for Japan's chocolate makers, some of whom rake in 20 to 30 percent of annual profits in a few short weeks.



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