March 06, 2016
In Japan, Valentine’s day is a day when women give chocolates to men. There is another holiday on March 14th called White Day, when men give white chocolate or candies to the women who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s day.
In addition to romantic chocolates, there are Giri chocolates which are customarily given to female coworkers by male coworkers.
Giri is written as 義理 in Japanese, and it means from obligation, not emotion.
Giri chocolates are customarily given to all male colleagues in a person’s department. Giri chocolates are usually very inexpensive, often less than 500 yen ($4.15). This tends to be much cheaper than fancy chocolates than someone would give to their significant other.
On Valentine’s day, giving Giri chocolates happens at many companies in Japan, however there are some large companies that forbid giving Giri chocolates, due to the fact that there are so many workers in any given department that giving even cheap chocolates to all male coworkers would be incredibly expensive.
In addition to Giri chocolates, there are Tomo chocolates. Tomo, written as 友, and meaning friend, are usually given to platonic female friends. These chocolates are given out of friendship, but are also meant as a consolation for not having a boyfriend to give chocolates to.
Black Thunder is one chocolate bar that’s popular as a Giri chocolate.
Between January 14th and February 14th, at Tokyo Okashi Land, the underground shopping area of Tokyo station, will be a Giri chocolates store exclusively selling Black Thunder. The store opened last year for a limited time period and is the first store specializing in Giri chocolates.
Black Thunder is sold at many grocery and convenience stores like 7-11 in Japan. You can buy them individually, with one black thunder costing 32 yen. Black Thunder became famous when gymnast Kohei Uchimura won a gold medal at the London Olympics. Black Thunder is his favourite candy bar, and his mom threw Black Thunder to Uchimura from the stands which caught the attention of the Japanese public.