A short one tonight, as I run out of time before midnight Japan time. Damned exams.
On the occasional odd Sunday, I teach high school students who plan to study at universities in the USA, Canada, the UK or Australia. Part of my job is to prepare them for their entrance exams and to crush the hopes and dreams of the young men. (Technically, that’s my day job, too, but the goals are different.)
One of the things Japan gets very right is Valentine’s Day. On that day, although men may spring for dinner for their loved ones, it’s the women who provide the chocolate. A woman in love will make chocolate candies from scratch for her loved one. This is called honmei-choco (or chocolate of love). It’s also common practice–although this is slowly fading out–for all women at a company to provide some kind of chocolate for the men at their offices. This is giri-choco (or courtesy chocolate).
Later, on March 14th, it’s the men’s turn to provide something on White Day, usually cookies, white chocolate, jewelry, stockings and, for men who want to sleep alone a rather long time, marshmallows. It’s also expected that the White Day gift be “triple the return”. Lately, though, that seems to have become “triple the excuses”. (I refuse to testify on the grounds that my testimony will be used against me.)
Where the hope crushing comes into play is when I have to tell the young Japanese lads heading off to the West that Valentine’s Day there is backward. The man is expected to provide chocolates, flowers, jewelry and dinner. If he doesn’t his relationship is going to suffer a bit of stress.
The final hope crushing is when I point out that there is no White Day in the West and no triple return where the women are expected to pay up. The young men ask why and I tell them it’s because they’re men. They nod and say “No, really, why?”
The young ladies in the class, by contrast, seem to like this one way responsibility idea a lot.
Now I have to post this and start thinking about what I’m going to get my girls for White Day. Actually, they didn’t give me much chocolate this year–daddies aren’t that cool–so maybe all I’ll need is some excuses. I should work on those, too.