Learn

Tweet of the Week #68: The Sweet Taste of French Revolution

Does giving obligatory Valentine's Day chocolate leave a bittersweet taste in your mouth? Learn how to talk about it with this week's Japanese tweet.

By 3 min read

Valentine’s Day means serious business for Japanese candy makers and for good reason. This celebration of all things romantic accounts for no less than a quarter of chocolate yearly sales, a market worth a little more over ¥1 billion.

Eat my chocolate

Celebrated since 1958 in Japan, V-Day is all about Japanese women offering chocolate to their lovers and male entourage on February 14th. While their one true love receives the precious honmai-choco (true feeling chocolate), their friends and colleagues make do with giri-chocolate which is given out of obligation rather than love.

But Japanese style Valentine’s Day is a bittersweet deal for women, who easily end up spending thousands of yen on chocolate boxes. Their kindness is somewhat repaid on March 14th, AKA White Day, when men pay them back with gifts of their own.

However, more and more women aren’t keen to open their wallets to satisfy their male colleagues’ sweet tooth.

Is offering giri-chocolate finally a thing of the past?

Valentine’s Day is still the front runner for chocolate sales in Japan, but for how long? After two disappointing years in a row, with the market dropping respectively 6% and 3% in 2018 and 2019, Halloween is now close to snatching the first place.

While the range of valentine gifts is actually expanding, the public interest seems to have turned somewhat sour. The chocolate industry took a big hit with the growing perception that giri-chocolates are in fact, a form of power harassment at work.

So every year, confectioners have to come up with ingenious marketing campaigns to encourage consumers to indulge their desire for sweets, whether they’re gifting the sweets to someone else or themselves.

Taste of what?!

Leveraging Japanese people’s romantic perception of France is always a good strategy to sell stuff in Japan. But we bet cake shop chain Ginza Cozy Corner’s marketing team didn’t think long enough about this advertisement campaign shared by twitter user @R_Kakiuchi_0921.

今年ことしのチョコレートケーキが不穏ふおんすぎる。

= This year’s chocolate cake is too disturbing.

A delicious pun made from the poster’s caption: 今年のチョコレートケーキは、フランス革命かくめいあじTranslation? “This year’s chocolate cake tastes like the French revolution.”

Let us know if you have an idea of what the French revolution would taste like, we’re curious.

50 shades of taste

Meals are a way to connect with people, to learn more about a culture and talking about food is probably a universal conversation starter. So let’s focus on the word (taste) and help you go beyond 美味おいしい and うまい.

You’ll find tons of expressions very easy to remember with the word.

Japanese Romaji English
味が aji ga koi have a strong taste
味がある aji ga aru have flavor
味がいい aji ga ii have a good taste
味がうす aji ga usui lightly seasoned
味がない aji ga nai tasteless
味がわる aji ga warui unpalatable/ tastes bad

You can expand your vocabulary with the words 風味ふうあじwhich translates “flavor” and 後味あとあじ, for “after taste”.

Japanese Romaji English
風味がある fuumi ga aru savory
風味のない fuumi no nai insipid
風味をつける fuumi o tsukeru to season (a dish)
後味がいい atoaji ga ii leaves a good aftertaste in one’s mouth
後味が悪い atoaji ga warui leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth

By the way, when you taste a dish, you use the verb 味見あじみする. Quite easy to remember, isn’t it?

Now, when it comes to describing the food you can use the following adjectives:

Japanese Romaji English
あま amai sweet
甘口あまくち amakuchi sweet, mild
から karai spicy
辛口からくち karakuchi spicy/ dry (wine)
塩辛しおからい (casual しょっぱい) shyokarai (shyoppai) salty
っぱい suppai sour
甘酸あますっぱい amasuppai sweet and sour
甘辛あまから amakarai sweet and salty
にが nigai  bitter
しぶ shibui astringent

Additional Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
今年ことし kotoshi this year
チョコレートケーキ chokoreeto keeki Chocolate cake
不穏ふおんすぎる fuon sugiru too disturbing
フランス革命かくめい furansu kakumei French revolution
本命チョコ honmei choko Chocolate you offer to the person you’re romantically involved with or you love romantically
義理チョコ giri choko Chocolate you offer to friends or colleague as a “duty”
バレンタイン・デー barentain dee Valentine’s Day

For more on learning Japanese

Related

Learn

Fukuoka Foreign Language College: A Welcoming Home for International Students in Japan

GaijinPot Study flew down to Fukuoka to check out this awesome Japanese Language School. See if it's the right fit for you!

By 5 min read

Learn

プレイボーイ and Other Japanese Words for Naughty Dating Behavior

If your Valentine's Day date says you’re しつこい, it means they just aren’t into you. Let it go!

By 4 min read

Learn

Kanji Cheat Sheet: Buying Cold Medicine in Japan

Fight off that nasty bug with this guide to the most common kanji found on Japanese OTC medicines.

By 1 min read