On February 14, ladies get the murky duty of judging where they stand in their relationships, and giving accordingly.
First, there's the "giri choco" or "obligation chocolate." This is an inexpensive bag of sweets that you give to the guys around because you must. It's expected. It's a way of "greasing the skids" of the relationships in life. All of them. Well, mostly. Just don't get caught not giving to someone!
Then there's "honmei choco" or "favorite chocolate." These you only give to guys you want to show your affection toward. These sweets tend to be rather expensive, and probably even homemade.
Oh, yes! There's the "tomo choco" or "just friends chocolate" as well. That's a whole other category of relationship to figure out.
With all this chocolate swirling about, you'd think the guys would be thrilled. Not really. Getting chocolates comes with a whole set of obligations. Men must reciprocate on "White Day," a month later on March 14. Each and every chocolate needs to be responded to, often with one worth three times as much as received. Talk about putting on the pressure!
No doubt about it. In spite of all the heartshaped boxes, Valentine's Day in Japan is less about love, and more about duty and obligation.
Japan, if all this makes you yearn for a true unfettered expression of love, forget about the chocolate thing. Look to the cross of Christ instead. Here is a love given out generously to all − without levels, obligations, or payments still owed. John 4:10 says "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
Now that's a sweet deal! Obligation chocolate? Nah! I'll take unmerited love.