Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day! A day dedicated to obligatory, and therefore hollow, acts of affection.

In Japan, Valentine's Day is slightly different. It's a day where girls give guys they like chocolates. They then have a festival called 'White Day', which is "celebrated" exactly a month after Valentine's Day, in which men who received chocolates have to give the same amount back, thus completing the cycle. The average amount spent on Valentines gifts by women in Japan is £65. Yes, £65. Let's put that in perspective: £65 could buy you 6,500 penny sweets. For £65 you could have a man killed in East London. £65 could buy you one and a half Xbox games. Or an R4 cart, which would then enable you to play every DS game ever made for free. Is a box of chocolates worth any of those things? When you could just as easily say, "Um, sorry, I forgot..."?


Anyway, anyway, anyway. There's been a lot of coverage of Valentine's Day in Japan on blogs that have the professionalism to impart actual information. What Japan Thinks has an absolutely frightening number of statistics on the subject (ie. 15 sets of statistics). AltJapan has a picture of the chocolate beetles you can buy for the man in your life who's slightly wrong in the head. Shibuya246 has found non-chocolate chocolate-towel rolls. Japanator has found real, honest-to-goodness chocolate tools. And Japan Probe has found Ultraman chocolates, pictured above.

I don't want to call it a "carnival of horrors". But it is. It's exactly that.