Valentine’s Day Lesson 義理と本命 (Giri to honmei)

February 12, 2010 in Japanese culture


V

:maggie-small: 「今年も義理チョコばかり!」

(=Kotoshi mo girichoko bakari!)

“Just obligatory chocolates again this year…”

「せめてホワイトデーで元を取らないと…」

(=Semete howaito dei de moto wo toranaito..)

“I should at least get what I invested in return on White Day.”

Today’s lesson is about バレンタインデー(=barentain dei) Valentine’s Day in Japan! ♥♥♥♥

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day in your country? People in other countries celebrate this day with their loved ones.  You give sweets, flowers or other presents to your loved one and this sometimes includes family, right?

Here in Japan it’s a one-way gift giving street: women to men. Yes! Women give men chocolate  and other presents!

This custom was started by a chocolate company about 50 years ago. Since then it has become a huge commercial event throughout Japan.

There are mainly two types of motivations women have for giving chocolate to men.

1) Chocolates that women give to their sweethearts to prove that their love is true. This type of chocolate — the kind that you give to someone you really like or love — is called 本命チョコ(=honmei choco)

漢字 (Kanji) :u:

hon/bon/pon true, book, authentic, real, main

•本社(=honsha) Head Quarters
•本当(=hontou) true, real

inochi/mei life (人生(= jinsei) is also translated as life but they are different. 人生 is lifetime from your birth to death and is physical function.)

•命日(meinichi) the anniversary day of someone’s death
•命を大切にしましょう(=Inochi wo taisetsu ni shimashou) We should respect our lives.

:ee: 本命(=honmei) true love, the one you really love. It is also used to refer to a person who is likely to win, a favorite, a shoo-in.

Ex. 彼は本命の彼女にしか優しくしない。
(=Kare wa honmei no kanojo ni shika yasashiku shinai.)
He is only  nice to girls he really likes.

Ex. マギーは今回の選挙で本命と見られている。
(= Maggie  wa konkai no senkyo de honmei to mirareteiru.)
Maggie  is considered to be a strong favorite in the election.

Ex. その賞の本命はマギーだ。
(=Sono shou no honmei wa Maggie  da.)
Maggie is a shoo-in for the award.

2) Another type is chocolate that is given without any romantic feelings attached. This type of chocolate is called 義理チョコ(=giri choco). The literal translation is “obligatory chocolate” and it’s true that this chocolate is given out of a feeling of obligation.
Women usuallyc give 義理チョ(=giri choko) to classmates, coworkers, bosses, teachers, or clients that they are not romantically interested in.

漢字 (Kanji) :u:

yoshi/gi justice, righteousness

•正義 (=seigi) justice

ri reason

•理論 (=riron) theory
•理性 (=risei) rational

•義理と人情 (=giri to ninjyou) loyalty & compassion

:rrrr: Note : 義理と人情 (=giri to ninjyou) loyalty & compassion
We tend to associate 「義理と人情 (=giri to ninjyou) 」with old Yakuza (=Japanese Mafia)  movies. In the old days Yakuza were considered to be very loyal and compassionate.
The kindness that they received is called 恩 (=on)
To not forget about the kindness that they have received is,
受けた恩を忘れない(=uketa on wo wasurenai)
To repay kindness is,
(恩を返す=on wo kaesu)

If you forget about the kindness you have received and return kindness with hostility, we say,
をあだで返す。(=on wo ada de kaesu)

Legal obligations are 義務 (=gimu).

義理 (=giri) is more like the moral obligation you feel when you owe someone psychologically.
Ex. (お)義理でそんなことしないで!(=(O)giri de sonna koto shinaide.)
Don’t do it because you feel obligated..

Ex. あの人に義理があるのでちょっと返しておかないと。
(=Anohito ni giri ga aru node chotto kaeshite okanaito.)
I owe him (because he did me a favor before) so I have to do a little something in return.

Ex. あの人は義理堅い。(=Ano hito wa giri gatai)

That person is very loyal. (That person remembers what other people have done for him and tries to do their best to give something back in return. )

Culture note :

<お返し(=okaeshi) to do or to give something in return>
In Japan if someone gives you a gift, it is customary to give a gift in return and that is calledお返し (=okaesi)
I have talked about some Japanese gift-giving customs before.
(ex. 入学祝い(=nyuugaku iwai)、お祝い(=Oiwai), 結婚祝い(=Kekkon iwai))
What do you mean you forgot!? :mad:  Go check the following lessons again!

and

Anyway, if you receive gifts, we are supposed to give something back in return.

In formal cases, a proper label must be put on the お返し(=okaeshi) the gift being given in return.
For example, if you receive お祝い(=oiwai) a gift for a happy occasion, (ex. 結婚祝い (=kekkon iwai) a wedding gift, 入学祝い (=nyuugaku iwai) to congratulate someone who has entered a school出産祝い (=shussan iwai) gifts given to new parents for their newborn, etc.) you should return a gift with a label that says 内祝い(=Uchiiwai).

If you receive a gift or gift money (お見舞い=omimai) when you are sick, you have to return a 快気祝い(=Kaiki iwai) when you recover.
If a close family member passes away and you receive お香典(=okouden) condolence money for the funeral you are supposed to return 香典返し(=kouden gaeshi) with labels like (=kokorozashi) or 忌明け(=kiake), etc. (The label varies depending on the region and religion.)

It is very common to give gifts in return whenever you have an opportunity. It’s not just reserved for formal situations. So if you want to maintain good relationships with your friends, neighbors, relatives or coworkers in Japan, keep in mind that you shouldn’t always be on the receiving end of gift giving.
And you should know that it is not just physical gifts that have to recognized. If someone helps you before, it would be nice for you to help that person when they need your help. That is also called お返し(=okaeshi)
If you do that it, people will see you in a positive light and consider you 義理堅い(=girigatai) loyal.
But of course, you don’t need to return a gift every single time you receive something.
And it’s important to note that some people will feel uncomfortable if you return a gift immediately.
They might say,
「却ってお気遣い頂いて申し訳ありませんでした。」
(=Kaette okizukai itadaite moushiwake arimasen deshita.)
“I am sorry that my gift causes you so much trouble.”

Other meaning of 義理(=giri) is in-laws

•義理の母 (=giri no haha) mother in law

•義理の妹 (=giri no imouto) sister in law

OK, back to Valentine’s Day in Japan. It is a day of LOVE but it is also a day when women can take control over men. Remember that only women are supposed to give chocolates to men. Men can’t do anything but be passive and just wait to see whether they can get chocolates or not. Many high school boys compete to see who gets the most chocolates and use this as a way to measure their popularity.
Even if they know it is just 義理チョコ (=giri choco) “obligatory chocolate”, many men still feel loved by the number of chocolates they get.
At the end of January, all the department store or sweet shops start to sell fancy chocolates for Valentine’ day.

godiva
Usually Godiva Chocolates and other fancy & expensive chocolates are for 本命(=honmei) the person you really love(or big clients!)

I-love-dogs
↑ Personally I love these chocolates although dogs can’t eat chocolates. (These are for humans!)

dog-chocolates

↑ Yukari bought these chocolates (for herself!). She said every dog has a different taste.

sense
↑ Many of chocolates are very artistic. These are Japanese traditional fans.
As we say, 食べるのがもったいない!(=taberu no ga mottainai.)
(They are so pretty so I don’t want to ruin them by eating them.)

Also many  girls make their own chocolates from scratch.
Some girls book a nice restaurant and pay for the meal, give their sweethearts a box of chocolates with a gift.

:k: What kind of gifts do women give men besides chocolates?

Many Japanese women used to give men handmade sweater or mufflers in the past but these kind of gifts are considered corny these days. According to a recent survey, the most popular gift for men is neckties. There is a trend to give their sweethearts  underwear on Valentine’s Day. Men feel special to get those presents not just chocolates, the survey said.

:l:ホワイトデー(=howaito dei) White Day

March 14th is known as ホワイトデー(=howaito dei) White Day.
As I mentioned above, Japanese respect お返し(=okaeshi), to give something in return, culture.
White Day is the day men who have received chocolates or gifts have to give gifts back to the women in return. There is an unsaid rule called 三倍返し(=sanbai gaeshi) which means you haveto return something three times the value of the original gift you got. The standard gift for White day is sweets, such as candies, cookies and etc., but there is not a strict rule for the gifts so you can choose to give other things such as accessories, underwear or even more expensive items like watches, bags, etc.

This should answer your question regarding why Japanese girls invest so much energy and money into Valentine’s Day  whether it’s for 本命 (honmei) or 義理 (=giri). :D

Now let’s look at today’s picture.

:maggie-small: 「今年も義理チョコばかり!」
(Kotoshi mo girichoco bakari)
“Just obligatory chocolates again this year…”
•今年(=kotoshi) this year
•も(=mo) also
•義理チョコ(=girichoco) obligatory chocolate
•ばかり(=bakari) only
We also say ばっかり(=bakkari) in a casual way.

→義理チョコばっかり!(Giri choco bakkari)

“Just obligatory chocolates again this year…”

:maggie-small: 「せめてホワイトデーで元を取らないと…」

=Semete howaito dei de moto wo toranaito..

“I should at least get what I invested in return on White Day.”

•せめて(=semete) at least
ホワイトデー(=howaito dei) “White Day”
•で(=de) on, with
•元を取る(=moto wo toru) to get what you have invested, paid for

Ex. (食べ放題で)3,000円も出したんだから一杯食べて元を取らなくっちゃ。
= (Tabehoudai de) sanzenen mo dashitan dakara ippai tabete moto wo toranakuccha. )
I payed good 3,000 yen (for all you can eat) so I have to eat a lot to match what I have paid for.

Cultural note: Now women have started to wonder why only men can get all these delicious chocolates…..
There is a new trend called, 友チョコ(=tomochoco)“chocolates for friends”women give each other chocolate.
All these could be conspiracies created by chocolate companies. :roll: But who cares! We love chocolate!

 

frenchbulldogマギー先生より(Maggie sensei yori) From Maggie sensei

今年のバレンタインから好きな女の子に骨をあげることにしたらいいのに。

(=Kotoshi no barentain kara sukina onnano ko ni hone wo ageru koto ni shitara iinoni.)

Why don’t we start giving bones to girls you like from this Valentine’s Day!

By the way, who sent me this card??  :u: