Sunday, 15 February 2015

Japanese Musings XIII: Valentine’s Day

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A topical post this week when, on that day for lovers everywhere, I explore how the Japanese celebrate… and money make… St. Valentine’s Day.

And in keeping with the romantic theme, I’m off to the City of Love myself this Tuesday, Paris here I come! Can’t wait.

Keep travelling!

Uncle Travelling Matt


Links to all the Japanese Musings:

Series 1

Japanese Musings I: Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Japanese Musings II: O-ha!!!

Japanese Musings III: The Thin Blue Line

Japanese Musings IV: Nihon no Shokyu

Japanese Musings V: The Sporting Life

Japanese Musings VI: A Bad Day

Japanese Musings VII: Time, time, time…

Japanese Musings VIII: The Joys of Internationalisation

Japanese Musings IX: Meri Kurisumasu!

Japanese Musings X: It’s Cold Outside!

Japanese Musings XI: Moomins and Mydo Cardo

Japanese Musings XII: Engrish

Japanese Musings XIII: Valentine’s Day

Series 2

Japanese Musings 2.1: Arrival: Tokyo

Japanese Musings 2.2: Arrival: Inaka

Japanese Musings 2.3: Riding the Kamioka-sen

Japanese Musings 2.4: Onsen

Japanese Musings XIII: Valentine’s Day


Last week included of course that infamous day of the year, feared by millions, known as Saint Valentine's Day. Quite who Saint Valentine ever was and what he actually did I haven't a clue, though I would take an educated guess that it was completely unrelated to the lovey-dovey crap that his day now symbolises, and I'm also sure that he turns in his grave every February 14th, in repentance of all the unhappiness caused to the permanently single in his name.

Year upon year however I have the arduous task of going down to the Post Office and arranging to have my Valentine's mail delivered by truck and apologising in advance for the extra-workload placed upon the shoulders of the good postmen and women in the locality. Ok, so that's not entirely true, in fact the opposite is the case, that is until this year when I received a grand total of three (yes, three!) cards on Vallies Day, which I proudly displayed on my work desk.

Actually 'received' is a wee bit of a strong work, I actually had to go into town to pick two of them up beforehand, but nonetheless they were all made by someone other than myself, and without payment to the individual in question, so who's complaining? Not me that's for sure.

The reason why this particular Valentine's Day was such an unmitigated (and unprecedented) success was not due however to that annoying little cupid and his bow and arrows, instead that more practical reason entitled 'forward planning'. Several weeks before, myself and three friends were dismally contemplating another wretched Day of the Valentiney Ones, when we decided to do something about it and send cards to each other, which is a good idea indeed, despite that fact one of the ensuing results was that I received my first ever Valentines card off a bloke.

Now I suppose you are now sitting there and thinking that the whole caboodle is more than a little bit sad, but wait I beg you. For we are no longer at home and here in the Japans, Valentines Day is celebrated a wee bit differently.

Of course, as was the case with Christmas complete with Surfing Santa's and Singing Snowmen, the natives of the Land of the Rising Sun do not care one iota that Saint Valentine's Day is a celebration of a faith foreign to them, so long as it can get commercial. And indeed commercial it does get for of this special day girls must all send their beau a card and box of choccies. But not only that!! In the good old Eastern tradition of making money out of nothing at all, they must also send chocs to their colleagues, and boss, plus friends too if they've enough yen left over. In fact, did you know, that half of the chocolate bought in Japan in a year is bought for Valentine's Day?

[Fate-stay night] Illyasviel von Einzbern Saber Valentine

But what about the lads, I hear you feminists holler? Why should they get away scott free whilst their poor impoverished sisters dig deep in their pockets? Fear thee not, for precisely a month later, on March 14th, falls White Day. White Day is a day with no significance whatsoever, except that it is a month after Valentine's Day, and thus is the ideal opportunity for all the lads to buy their belles, buddies and bosses lovey dovey junk, in particular white chocolate and, (it is rumoured), lacy underwear (though maybe not for the boss)?!


And thus, all is fair, both sexes have yet another opportunity to waste money on tacky rubbish, and the blatant commercialism of Valentine's Day is doubled at one fell swoop! Brilliant!

So thank you to Hannah, Sandra and Conor for the cards, but unfortunately I'm not Japanese so it stops here, and you can buy your own Milky Bars on White Day!


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