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.
— 垣内 玲 (@R_Kakiuchi_0921) February 3, 2020
= 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、フランス革命の味。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 味 (taste) and help you go beyond 美味しい and うまい.
You’ll find tons of expressions very easy to remember with the word 味.
|味が濃い||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|
|味が薄い||aji ga usui||lightly seasoned|
|味がない||aji ga nai||tasteless|
|味が悪い||aji ga warui||unpalatable/ tastes bad|
You can expand your vocabulary with the words 風味 which translates “flavor” and 後味, for “after taste”.
|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 味見する. Quite easy to remember, isn’t it?
Now, when it comes to describing the food you can use the following adjectives:
|辛口||karakuchi||spicy/ dry (wine)|
|塩辛い (casual 塩っぱい)||shyokarai (shyoppai)||salty|
|甘酸っぱい||amasuppai||sweet and sour|
|甘辛い||amakarai||sweet and salty|
|チョコレートケーキ||chokoreeto keeki||Chocolate cake|
|不穏すぎる||fuon sugiru||too disturbing|
|フランス革命||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
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