Japan says it’s the men’s turn to receive gifts

Fellow Skip Beat manga fans would know the chaos Kyoko faced after mixing up her Valentine’s Day chocolates. Like other Japanese women, Kyoko reserved specific chocolates for her colleagues, her friend Moko, an admired senior co-actor Ren, and the hated Sho. Imagine the frustration if the gift you had intended for the admired one fell in the hands of the despised one!

For those unfamiliar with the popular Japanese comic, the above scene is just one of the many depictions of what happens on Valentine’s Day in Japan. While the rest of the world is buying gifts for their special someone, women in japan are obligated to gift chocolates to not just male friends, but co-workers, family members, relatives, classmates etc. A lot of work? Yes! Exhausting? Absolutely! So why would women work themselves through the night baking chocolate for men they don’t especially like? Gratitude forms the backbone of Japanese culture to the extent that a return-gift (aka Okaeshi) if not received would be assumed as an insult.

So what about the Japanese men? Well, for Valentine’s Day they enjoy the attention from their female colleagues, friends and family. Strange enough, a month later, it’s their turn to return the favor. On March 14, exactly a month after Valentine’s Day, Japanese men present gifts to women who had sent them chocolates. Although the popular choice would be chocolates, cookies and candy, women prod on what they’d want for White Day besides confectionary.

Just because the tradition originated from Japan, doesn’t mean the act of gratitude cannot be extended to the ever-changing city of Dubai. Everyone’s had moments where family, friends and even strangers lent a hand in times of need. Why not present your cherished ones with gifts this Valentine’s Day? Albeit Valentine’s Day has basked around the themes of love and romance for decades, how about expressing our ‘thank-you’s to people who’ve loved, supported and encouraged us every step of the way. This February 14, try including your close ones in appreciation of their efforts, so no one would be left alone on Valentine’s Day.

(As published in February issue of ‘one eight one’ magazine. You can find the latest issue at Virgin megastores in Dubai)

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