Despite the oppressive-sounding name, many see an upside to the practice.
Valentine’s Day in Japan is as much about the chocolate as it is about romance. But just as there are all sorts of romantic feelings, from a simple crush to a love that you feel from the bottom of your heart, so too are there many different classes of Valentine’s day chocolate in Japan.
In terms of volume, most of the chocolate purchased and given for Valentine’s Day is what’s known as giri choco, literally “obligation chocolate.” Giri choco doesn’t carry any significance of romantic love, but is instead given by women to their male coworkers and colleagues as a social nicety.
▼ Delicious duty
The Japanese division of multinational corporation 3M recently polled Japanese women about their giri choco plans, finding that out of 450 respondents, 39.8 percent planned on giving giri choco to a coworker this February. When asked why, the majority, 59.2 percent, said they’d be doing so to show their thanks for the general help and support they’d received from male coworkers throughout the year.
44.7 percent of also said they felt giri choco helped promote smoother workplace communication, and 18.4 also cited a simple desire to make the recipient happy as a reason. And down at number four on the list, 7.8 percent said they’d be giving giri choco this year simply because their female officemates were, and they felt going doing likewise was the least awkward option.
Regardless of the impetus, the average giri choco gift isn’t terribly expensive. 59.2 percent of the giri choco-giving respondents said they’ll be spending less than 500 yen (US$4.30) per person they plan to give some to, with another 34.1 percent budgeting between 501 to 1,000 yen per gift.
Also, while giri choco is commonly given at the office, women aren’t necessarily expected to give some to every male employee of the company, Often the gift-giving range is limited to teammates or people in the same division, and 68.2 percent of the gift-giving respondents will be buying giri choco for only one to five people, and only 12.8 percent will be handing out sweets to more than 10 guys.
Sifting through all those numbers means that many women are likely to be spending 2,500 yen or less for their giri choco activities, which isn’t a huge outlay. Still, hopefully their male coworkers will remember to return the favor one month later when White Day rolls around.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s happy to receive any delicious-looking photos of giri choco you care to send him, and will respond in kind for White Day.
[ Read in Japanese ]