Thursday, February 09, 2006

Happy Rampant Commercialism Day!

Well, as I'm sure you know, Valentine's Day is nearly upon us, and I'm happy to say Japan celebrates this most commercial of days as rampantly as back home. If not more so.

Of course, this being Japan things are done a little differently, the biggest difference being that only women are expected to give gifts on the day itself. But wait! Before you shout me down with cries of "Sexism!", the lads don't get off that easily: a special day is set aside a month later on March 14th where guys return the favour and give presents to the laydeeees. Known as "White Day", this entirely made up men-only gift-giving day was created when the national association of confectioners got together and came up with a way to sell more chocolate. Romantic, eh? According to whom you believe, it either gets its name from the colour of sugar, or because it was originally introduced by a marshmallow manufacturing company.

Just like England, consumers are given little chance to forget exactly what holiday is coming up - as you can see from the picture above my local shopping centre has opened a special Valentine's Day "Combinience Store", filled with all sorts of bizarre treats which I've documented below. Of course, seeing as Valentine's Day is a women-only gift-giving day here I was getting some strange looks as I wandered round the chocolates and baking products - it felt a bit like I'd wandered into a girl's changing room with all the looks I was getting. Still, it was a small sacrifice to make in the name of the blog - you know I'd do anything for you guys.

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