Backwards is not Backwards

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One of my recurring topics is the Valentine’s Day and White Day tradition in Japan. This year there is a new twist thrown into the works by Morinaga (a chocolate manufacturer).

Normally (in Japan, that is), women are supposed to give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day. There are two kinds of chocolate: obligatory chocolates, given to bosses and other authority figures; and love chocolates, given to any man in whom a woman has a strong interest. One month later, on White Day, the men (having evaluated all the people who gave them chocolates) can decide who gets chocolates in return.

My blog has been a sounding board for how this custom puts women in a position of risk and men in a position to abuse their hearts. I have made it a point to bring chocolates to my private classes in February and shake the foundation a little. My empassioned message has directly reached hundreds over the last five years and who knows how many through posts or word of mouth. Perhaps I can claim some part in Morinaga’s (森永) new campaign.

Walking through the convenience store I was struck by labels with English written backwards on them. The messages around the chocolates were not very direct, so I went through a few iterations trying to figure out the idea. Some indication that this year was special and something was being given back, made me think it was Morinaga’s anniversary and they wanted to thank us. English seals with “Thanks to you” helped reinforce this mistake. In the end I established that they are pushing gyaku-choko (逆チョコ), which is just backwards and chocolate mixed together. Taglines like, “Rather than wait, I’ll give you…”, or, “From men to women… this year, backwards chocolate.”, adorn the displays.

My only question is why they are calling this backwards chocolate, if it is indeed in protest of how the “normal” tradition is backwards. Clearly this should be called “proper chocolates” or some such. Anyhow, a cute ad campaign, and hopefully a spine-giving one.

Just had to throw in this link as well.

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10 Responses to “Backwards is not Backwards”

  1. verbivore Says:

    The mis-translations are quite funny. Backward chocolate doesn’t sound very appealling however.

    I always thought the valentine’s day/white day deal was a bad one for women in Japan, glad to hear you are championing some equal gift-giving.

  2. びっくり Says:

    I found out my girlfriend will get Valentine’s Day off work. I am looking forward to playing in Kyoto with her. I’ll have to give her some backwards backwards chocolate.

  3. titus2woman Says:

    Fascinating, as always~I love these posts! Thanks for all your comments~you bless me! and guess what? I’ve lost 11 pounds since 12/28! WOOHOOO! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  4. びっくり Says:

    Does that mean I owe you some yarn from Japan? Or do you still have some more to go? Let me know. Do you do any sewing? Maybe I could pick up some silk from the kimono shop nearby instead.

  5. titus2woman Says:

    No, I have more to go! I don’t sew, I was just sharing ‘cuz you’ve been sooo supportive! You are forgiven of this debt if ya wanna be! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  6. びっくり Says:

    Can’t imagine why I’d want to be forgiven of the debt. After all, I willingly committed. Let me know when you get there. I hope it is soon, but not rushed.

  7. The Dreamer Says:

    Hai! This is my first time visiting your blog.
    I like reading your blog. Its really nice. 🙂

    When I first came to Japan, I was quite surprised by these Valentines traditions in Japan. That was the first time I came across it. Why do girls have to gives chocolates first to a boy?And then wait for the White day to know if he likes her or not? Why dont they just exchange gifts on that day?

    P/s: Sorry for having too many questions.

  8. titus2woman Says:

    AW~I wasn’t implying that you didn’t honestly enter into sharing willingly, it’s just that I have not kept up with the page that well and had such high hopes of getting it rolling. Without time, work, and energy that won’t happen, and I just can’t spread myself any thinner! No pun intended~LOL! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  9. びっくり Says:

    T2W – sorry if I sounded passive-aggressive. Let me know when you meet your goals and I’ll find you something interesting from Japan. It can take a month or ten years. (If it’s ten years, you should probably include a link to the original page to remind me.) I hope things progress smoothly.

  10. びっくり Says:

    Dreamer – I can’t answer your question about why, but it seems to be from a point of weakness and control by the men. Some people are pushing for a change so we’ll see what happens this year.

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