Japan Times vs. Japan Times

February 4:

Men miss out on Valentine’s chocolate as women treat themselves

Japan’s unique Valentine’s Day tradition of women giving chocolate to men is melting away as more women show a preference for pampering each other instead of their boyfriends and spouses.

The practice of giving tomo choco (friendship chocolate) has been highlighted as a new trend in a recent survey that found 74 percent of women plan to give a Valentine’s gift to a female friend but only 32 percent intended to buy something for a boyfriend.

And the trend is well established. Ninety-two percent of respondents said they had received tomo choco from a friend last year. Just 11.2 percent said they plan to give chocolates to confess their love to someone, according to the survey by chocolate-maker Ezaki Glico, Ltd., which questioned 500 women aged between 10 and 30 over the Internet.

February 5:

Valentine’s chocolate defies recession
Cheap, expensive or made at home — Cupid says it’s all good

As many businesses continue to shake their heads over how tough it is to make sales in these financially difficult times, “cheaper is better” is the strategy of the day, with shops slicing prices for everything from “gyudon” (beef on rice) to jeans.

But one thing consumers — especially female ones — will loosen their purse strings for are those little drops of heaven that are sure to melt their darlings’ hearts come Feb. 14, say chocolate retailers, whose customer-oriented strategies have seen both luxury brands and affordable sweets fly off the shelves at equal speed.

…According to [an Isetan spokeswoman], the recession has done nothing to spoil consumers’ appetite for high-quality chocolate, with the buzz extending beyond hardcore fans this year. This follows the recent consumer trend where couples and families prefer to stay at home rather than go out, and so were interested in buying luxury chocolates to enjoy together, she said.

So is the Japanese race doomed to extinction, or isn’t it?!

11 thoughts on “Japan Times vs. Japan Times”

  1. > Japan’s unique Valentine’s Day tradition of women giving chocolate to men

    More Nihonjinron? It’s the exact same in Korea, which is then unsurprisingly followed by “White Day”.

  2. Their darlings are other women.

    In the Japan of the future, there are only lesbians and eunuchs. Get ready.

  3. Hiroshi, that is not “nihonjinron.” Nihonjinron would be if somebody claimed that the tradition was somehow based on a trait inherent in the Japanese character/soil/ancient culture. The indisputable fact is that the tradition of women giving chocolate to men, and the followup of “white day” were invented by chocolate companies in Japan, and then exported to Korea by Japanese companies (I think department stores?).

  4. “The survey also indicated that as they get older, women are less likely to buy chocolate to confess their love to someone, and that 23 percent of college-age women chose to buy chocolates for themselves.”

    So, almost a quarter of young women with newfound freedom and disposable income take advantage of seasonal bargains to pick up treats for themselves? What’s more, as women get older, they become less likely to perform an act intensely associated with middle school? Astonishing findings indeed.

  5. Strictly speaking, that match-up is “Kyodo vs Japan Times”.

    Roy, “Japanese chocolate companies” is complicated a little by the fact that one of the largest, Lotte, is both Korean and Japanese. It certainly helps explain why the idea transferred across to Korea so quickly.

  6. I don’t really see how that complicates things very much. I’m pretty sure the idea started with department store level fancy chocolates, which Lotte is decidedly not. (Yes, they have department stores in Korea, but not in Japan.)

    White day, according to Wikipedia, was invented at the 1978 general meeting of the Japan Candy Association, so there really isn’t any ambiguity there. As for White Day in Korea, I can’t understand much Korean, but the Korean Wiki article starts off by saying “In The Republic of Korean, Japan and Taiwan, on March 14…” so I assume it goes on to explain that they do the same thing.

  7. Am I correct in assuming that Valentine’s Day is a Western import, and a very commercialized Western import (that many Westerners are not that crazy about) at that? If Japanese women stopped celebrating the “holiday” entirely would that necessarily mean a low Japanese birthrate? I’m pretty sure the Japanese knew how to have families before they had heard of Valentine’s Day.

  8. Many years ago I heard Valentine Morozoff speaking about the confectionery business in Japan. (He didn’t talk about how his family lost control of Morozoff through near-fraudulent means, which is an interesting tale in itself).

    He confirmed that Akio Morita claimed to have “invented” Valentine’s Day in Japan by importing chocolates. He also referred to the competing claim by Isetan which had regularly held Valentine’s Day events featuring chocolate. He felt that both were influential but neither acted as the single catalyst in any particular year.

    He believed that factors such as Japan’s culture of gift-giving, growing wealth and the increasing numbers of women in office work provided a fertile backdrop for the various marketing efforts to pay off. On the latter point, he explained that women might buy chocolates for their bosses and work colleagues but they expected to share them too. OLs were always been in charge of serving the tea and distributing any goodies which might be around and those chocolates generally made their way back into circulation.

    White Day, as Roy mentions, was the brainchild of Japan’s confectionery association which basically revolves around the big guns of Morinaga, Lotte, Ezaki Glico and Meiji.

  9. There’s not many holidays that haven’t been given a leg-up by crafty marketing. Valentine’s Day has moved from greeting cards to chocolate to diamonds. (“Don’t make her even fatter, buy her a ring instead.”)
    If the choice is between chocolate or hot girl-on-girl action…!
    But seriously, the gift-giving tradition is so strong in Japan that any reasonable product can find an occasion.

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