February 14

Happy Obligation Day

Okay, first of all, a dozen black roses to whoever decided women do all the giving on V-Day in Japan. They tried to band-aid over this egregious error by creating White Day on March 14 (on which men are supposed to triple-return the favor) but all that really did was create more giri-choco.

Yes, Obligation Chocolate is the burden all working women here must bear. Not only do you have to fork over the big bucks to buy sweets for your true love (Godiva goes for about $3.50 PER PIECE here), you have to give chocolate to every guy you work with too. They, however, don’t rate the good stuff.

Convenience stores, grocery stores, even 100 yen shops deal in tokens guaranteed to fulfill obligation while discouraging any interpretation of actual affection.

Give this if you want to say, “Don’t even think you might be boyfriend material.”

This is the giri-choco equivalent of those 30-packs of Bugs Bunny cards that read “I hope your Valentines Day is poifect!”

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

When Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, his life begins to unravel…read more