Valentine's Day is celebrated differently in Japan. Here it took some getting used to the fact that girls give guys chocolate and that's it. In fact, and this must be a product of blatent commercialism on the part of chocolate companies, you even have to give chocolate to guys you may not like!
They call it "giri choco" which means "duty chocolate". In other words if you work or go to school with guys you will be obliged to give them all a little something on Valentine's Day, EVEN the boss!
This is supposedly reciprocated on "White Day" March 14th which I think is an excuse by the chocolate companies to repackage all the unsold chocolate and attempt to sell it again a month later. Of course all the married guys will just tell their wives the number they need to reciprocate and send their better halves out to do the shopping..
Fortunately I like the guys I work with, and they usually give great loot back on White Day and I'm always ready for any excuse to be festive soooo….
I get little snacks for ALL the staff, even the girls. It's always fun watching the gals light up when thye get an unexpected cookie or chocolate or something. And the guys on staff are always hungry and scrounging around in the staff room for any souvenir treats that may left over from some teacher's travels (You have to understand the Japanese psyche of souvenir giving to appreciate this), so of course they enjoy getting a treat too. And I enjoy taking a few minutes out in the morning to distribute things.
Then there's the "honmei choco". This is a bigger, more elaborate present (or better yet something homemade- pardon the pun, but it's the icing on the cake!) which a girl would nervously pass on to a fellow she fancies. She must then hold her breath for a month and hope that he reciprocates with an equal present. This represents the English equivalent of "Hey, so like…uhhhh….wanna go out?"
In my case, I needn't nervously pass a box of chocolates to someone since I'm certain K knows where he stands but I've heard stories of terrible arguements arising or of men getting silently upset if their girlfriends or wives don't give them something..
K doesn't like chocolate. So we discussed it. Or rather I talked to him about it and he said the Japanese equivalent of "yes dear". We agreed to give each other something a la Canadian style. But since I'm not keen on fancy, wasteful presents we set a limit of about 5 bucks.
Given that K is a practical man, I was fearing what I'd get. I was expecting a tupperware container or something.. I got him a long sleeve undershirt to keep him warm in the filing shop, he likes practical presents, after all.
But, to my surprise, I got a little flower in a pot on V day. Little mini pink roses! I'm delighted and to be the practical man that he is with the leftover money he threw in a pack of liquid fertilizer.
After dinner, (we used candles but it was just a regular dinner) we went out for yakitori (chicken kebabs) and yuzu chuhai (Japanese citron flavoured sake- YUMMY!) at the local pub, then I spent the night throwing up. NO not alcohol poisoning.. I caught the stomach flu that was going around. Oh well it was mostly a happy Valentine's Day.