In Japan, the Morozoff Ltd. introduced the Valentine day for the first time in 1936, when it ran an advertisement aimed at foreigners. Later in 1953 it began promoting the giving of heart-shaped chocolates; other Japanese confectionery companies followed suit thereafter. Further campaigns during the 1960s popularized the custom.
Women are forced to give presents on Valentine day
The custom that only women give chocolates to men may have originated from the translation error of a chocolate-company executive during the initial campaigns. In particular, office ladies give chocolate to their co-workers. Unlike western countries, gifts such as greeting cards, candies, flowers, or dinner dates are uncommon, and most of the activity about the gifts is about giving the right amount of chocolate to each person Japanese chocolate companies make half their annual sales during this time of the year.
Many women feel obliged to give chocolates to all male co-workers, except when the day falls on a Sunday, a holiday. This is known as giri-choko, from giri (“obligation”) and choko, (“chocolate”), with unpopular co-workers receiving only “ultra-obligatory” chō-giri choko cheap chocolate. This contrasts with honmei-choko favorite chocolate), chocolate given to a loved one. Friends, especially girls, may exchange chocolate referred to as tomo-choko; from tomo meaning “friend”.
In the 1980s the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association launched a successful campaign to make March 14 a “revenge day”, where men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day, calling it White Day for the color of the chocolates being offered. A previous failed attempt to popularize this celebration had been done by a marshmallow manufacturer who wanted men to return marshmallows to women.
Men are expected to return gifts that are at least two or three times more valuable than the gifts received in Valentine’s Day. Not returning the gift is perceived as the man placing himself in a position of superiority, even if excuses are given. Returning a present of equal value is considered as a way to say that the relationship is being cut. Originally only chocolate was given, but now the gifts of jewelry, accessories, clothing and lingerie are usual. According to the official website of White Day, the color white was chosen because it’s the color of purity, evoking “pure, sweet teen love”, and because it’s also the color of sugar. The initial name was “Ai ni Kotaeru White Day” (Answer Love on White Day).
Black Day builds on the romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day and White Day. As the chocolates received on Valentine’s Day are interpreted to symbolize a man’s popularity and the chocolates given on White Day are used solely for romantic purposes, Black Day focuses on the people, especially singles, who did not receive any gifts on either of the holidays. On the day, singles who have not received presents on both days gather wearing black to ‘commiserate’ over black-colored food, especially jajangmyeon. During the meal, they complain about their lack of intimate relationships and chocolate gifts.
Jajangmyeon is a noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (a salty black soybean paste), diced pork and vegetables, and sometimes also seafood. Jajang, the name of the sauce, literally means “fried sauce.”While in Beijing cuisine, yellow soybean paste is used, in Tianjin and other parts of China tianmianjiang, hoisin sauce or broad (fava) bean sauce may be used in place of the yellow soybean paste. However, In Korea, the sauce is made with a dark soybean paste. This paste, which is made from roasted soybeans and caramel, is called chunjang when unheated, while the heated sauce (containing vegetables and meat or seafood) is called jjajang Chunjang is stir-fried with diced onions, ground meat (either beef or pork) or chopped seafood, and other ingredients. The meat stock is added to reduce the salty taste, and potato starch or cornstarch is added to give the sauce a thick consistency. The sauce is served hot over noodles, sometimes with sliced raw cucumbers.
In a 2006 survey of people between 10 and 49 years of age in Japan, Oricon Style found the 1986 Sayuri Kokushō single “Valentine Kiss” to be the most popular Valentine’s Day song, even though it sold only 317,000 copies. The singles it beat in the ranking were number one selling “Love Love Love” from Dreams Come True (2,488,630 copies) and “Valentine’s Radio” from Yumi Matsutoya (1,606,780 copies). The final song in the top five was “My Funny Valentine” by Miles Davis. My fav is still Mandy Moore Stupid Cupide!!!