Japanese women jostled feverishly for elbow room at stores yesterday to buy Valentine's Day chocolates for the men in their lives - guys who do sweet nothing in return.
While the ladies splurge on the objects of their desire - as well as friends, colleagues and bosses - Japanese men are simply waiting for the goodies to pour in and gorging to their hearts' content today.
It is a far cry from the Western version of Valentine's Day with its saucy commercials featuring handsome hunks swooping in to leave a box of chocolates on a lover's bed.
Although the confectionery traffic is one-way in Japan, the country celebrates White Day next month, when men are required to reciprocate with a white gift - from cookies to lingerie.
"It is madness today," said Ms Masako Fukuda, as she clutched a dainty bag of Belgian cocoa truffles which set her back a cool 8,000 yen (S$90).
"This is for my hubby," she added after battling the crowds in a department store in Tokyo's swanky Ginza district. "I'll get some cheaper chocolate for my co- workers."
Having splashed out on her "honmei" (true love) chocolate, (which is reserved for husbands or lovers), the 45-year-old expected her Valentine bill to top 10,000 yen once she had bought "giri" (obligation) treats for the men at her office, AFP reported.
At the Takashimaya department store, shoppers stood patiently in queues snaking around corners to purchase chocolates made by French company Dalloyau, or Belgian confectioner Pierre Marcolini's heart-shaped delicacies.
"I hope I get French chocolate," joked banker Teruaki Noda, 38. "If my girlfriend is stingy again this year, she won't get anything on White Day."
Half of what Japan spends on chocolate - US$11 billion (S$14 billion) - the biggest in Asia - is spent this month, according to retailers. But some women opt for a more frugal approach.
"I make chocolate myself," said 22-year-old student Haruko Kawabe. "I've been doing it since elementary school. Every year, I would make chocolate for the boy I like. It is less embarrassing to tell someone you like him by giving (him) chocolate on Valentine's Day."
This article was first published on Feb 14, 2015.
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