Lovefool 03.11.13 | Happy White Day!

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but romance is just starting to fire up in Japan, where men are preparing for the most dreaded day of all: White Day.



Oh, sweet nerdlings, I am going to have to beg for your patience for the next little bit here. Remember that OMG TOP SECRET(!) thing I was hinting about last week? Well, I can come clean, which is good because I’m rubbish at keeping secrets and this was no exception. Me and Mr. J are packin’ up the cats and leaving the Big O! (no kidding, it’s actually been called that in Chamber of Commerce promotional literature, which makes me want to facepalm so hard) for the familiar environs of fabulous Chateau Jameson in scenic Bellevegas. It’s a very mixed bag but, so far, the move is slotting into place pretty easily, knock on wood, and it’s kind of a relief to be going somewhere that doesn’t have regular blizzards, like the one currently going on outside. Did y’all know that it’s actually the wind that makes a blizzard and not the snow? Because I didn’t but I sure have learned about it.
So it’s hard to decide what to write about. There’s an Archie cover that I missed from last year, which is smokin’ hot and deserves a conversation, no matter how late I am to the party, because damn. And there’s the new Iron Man 3 trailer, which is also fairly dramatic and romantic, what with Tony Stark being all monosyllabic and getting a bit Edward Cullen (yes, he is) at/about Pepper. But, really, my brain is seething with pressure these days, a million little details trying to sort themselves out, and I’m not sure I could do either of those topics justice.
We soldier on, though, no matter how much I should probably just take a few weeks off to get my stuff moved back home and untangle the red tape it takes to move back into my own house, but eh. Let’s talk about Japan. Namely, let’s talk about White Day, which is coming up on Thursday for Japan and is the response to the call of Valentine’s Day.
Japan, as we’re all aware, is a weird place with weird gender politics and, as such, has managed to split Valentine’s Day into two excruciating days, one for girls and one for boys because heaven forbid we get this nonsense out of the way all at once. And, goodness, did they dive right in. The ladies start with Valentine’s Day and it’s, apparently, awful. The traditional gift is chocolate and there are multiple tiers. Giri-choco, or “obligation chocolate,” is what you pick up for your coworkers, including an extra tier for the creepy coworker that you have to get something because you can’t leave him out (hello, grade school!). Tomo-choco goes to your pals. But that special someone, your swellest fella, gets honmei-choco and, sometimes, a little something extra and exciting, like a tie.
But, jeez, the whole thing is so complicated because there are those tiers of sweets and then there are different meanings. Chocolate chip cookies, apparently, are the way to say “I love you” for them but are mostly the way I say “Dude, thanks for cleaning my sidewalks because I’m so, so lazy and you own a snowblower.” Handmade, hand-decorated and beribboned chocolate that you’ve put some effort into is the ideal and my traditional Valentine’s Day nod, the punny grade school card, would not hold much water in Japan. Also, ugh, handmade chocolate in hand-decorated packaging, all bedazzled and whatever? I would have annual panic attacks and, according to popular culture, I wouldn’t be alone since it feels like every manga ever has touched on Valentine’s at some point, often with comedic results.
And then there’s White Day, exactly a month after Valentine’s Day, which is where the guys give chocolates and other gifties to the ladies who gave them Valentine’s Day sweets and presents. There’s an unspoken rule that White Day presents need to be two to three times more expensive than the initial Valentine’s Day presents and lingerie is not off the table, which I find interesting because there’s a world of difference between a tie and a teddy. Of course, as always, guys make more in Japan, like everywhere else, but it seems slightly skewed to just expect a bigger and better present in return and the two to three times spendier was a guideline. Some advice suggested reciprocal gifts should be four times more expensive. The whole thing just makes my head spin.
Of course, dudes have to put out some cash but there’s not the emphasis on handmade goodies like there is for Valentine’s Day, which I think is a total copout. I mean, Mr. J is, frankly, a way better day-to-day cook than I am. I imagine he could whip up some pretty fantastic cupcakes. And that’s a manga I’d read any day. | Erin Jameson

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