Japan Today

'Giri' (obligation) chocolates seen as power harassment; more Japanese companies ban practice

By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

While Valentine’s Day in many countries might spark images of red roses, romantic dinners, and lovers generally spoiling each other, here in Japan it’s a day when women give chocolate to all the men in their lives.

Boyfriends and husbands receive honmei choco (“true feelings chocolate”), while all other men receive giri choco (“obligation chocolate”). These days, women give out tomo choco (“friend chocolate”) to female friends as well.

Men who receive gifts from women on Valentine’s Day are supposed to return the favor with a small gift on White Day a month later, on March 14. However, given that women have to lead the way on Feb 14, there’s an underlying pressure to ensure that chocolates are given to all the right male colleagues and friends in their circle to save themselves from committing a faux pas and causing offense.

Needless to say, Valentine’s Day can be a stressful and expensive experience for women, making the custom of giri choco a controversial one. In recent years, famous chocolate brands have weighed in on the debate, questioning its relevance in today’s modern world, and now more and more Japanese companies are stepping in to ban the practice from offices.

This increase in companywide bans on giri choco made headlines today, following a survey which revealed that almost 40 percent of male and female office workers see the practice of giri choco as a form of power harassment.

News site ANN reported the findings, questioning people on the streets to gauge their opinion on the matter, and visiting a workplace where giri choco has been banned for the past six years. Everyone they interviewed all showed overwhelming support for companywide bans on giri choco, saying it helps to ease unnecessary pressure on women and have a positive effect on workplace relations.

As one of the female office workers in the video mentioned, “Before the office ban, we had to worry about things like how much is appropriate to spend on each chocolate and where we draw the line in who we give the chocolates to, so it’s good that we no longer have this culture of forced giving.”

As this notion of “forced giving” or “obligation” becomes increasingly tied to feelings of power harassment, which companies are taking very seriously, it appears that more and more offices might do away with the tradition of giri choco in the future. Which, if this Godiva statement is anything to go by, will be something that even luxury chocolate brands can agree with.

Source: ANN via Livedoor News, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Godiva runs full-page ad asking Japanese women to stop buying so much Valentine’s chocolate

-- Tokyo opens entire store dedicated to helping women buy obligation chocolate for Valentine’s

-- Japanese women explain why they give “obligation chocolate” to male coworkers on Valentine’s Day

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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'Giri' (obligation) chocolates seen as power harassment; more Japanese companies ban practice

Good!" Let's hope they do the same with Omiyage. That's power harassment too.

One more thing: That picture is just awful.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Nobody should be made to feel obligated to give gifts in the workplace.

(Or obligated to go drinking or to any non-work activities outside of normal working hours and/or at non-work locations.)

Work is work. Life is life. The former's purpose is to pay for the latter. (With few exceptions.)

15 ( +16 / -1 )

In all my years in Japan I never received girichoco; I have only received "love-choco."

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I'm all for sharing cultures and and putting your own spin on foreign holidays... but Japan always seems to take western holidays, turn them into something else, and then complain about what they've turned them into. Same for Halloween (all these foreigners and their violent halloween street parties... what?), same for Christmas (it's discrimination against single men for not having enough money to spend on a date for Christmas imposed on us by foreign imperialists... what?) and now Valentines Day. It's not a gift if it's obligatory ffs. God help us if Easter ever becomes a big thing here, I wonder what weird and costly celebration it will turn into and how foreigners will then be blamed for that. C'mon Japan I love you but stahppp you don't need Valentines day, you already essentially turned Christmas into Valentine's day just leave it at that.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Lets also ban Christmas and every other gift sharing day also...

Valentine's is harmless, white day follows the following month in which guys have to do the same thing.. Free trade in a way

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Free trade in a way

My wife and kids eat all the chocolate I receive anyways but I would rather spend the money I have to pay on return chocolate on other things.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

It all boils down to Japanese citizens doing their bit to keep the economy going and giving more money to these chocolate and cookie companies and restaurants. Every single western event you can think of is being twisted and taken advantage of. Easter is slowly getting larger here - every single damn item with eggs is touted as an Easter must-have. Now, during Setsubun, you've got sponge cakes shaped like ehomaki. Halloween products in September, Xmas stuff in October. It's a miracle Thanksgiving hasn't reached here yet. Not content with one Valentine's Day? Have two!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I’m siding 100% with sathegaijin here.

Also, why, suddenly, are there all these “rules” to the kind act of giving? I feel so much pressure to give gifts that I would never consider doing back home. For example, My neighbour gave me some fruit, so now I have to buy them something bigger and better, only to begin a never ending cycle of gift giving with someone I’ll never be able to have a genuine relationship with, because of the pressure to show up with a gift!

My philosophy used to be: if I wholeheartedly feel like giving a gift, or I find something that is perfectly suited for a friend, then I’ll buy a gift. I’m japan, it’s a whole other ball game!

Men who receive gifts from women on Valentine’s Day are supposed to return the favor with a small gift on White Day a month later,

As this notion of “forced giving” or “obligation” becomes increasingly tied to feelings of power harassment

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I set a 'no giri chocolates' rule in the office this year. I was clear that anyone giving them was doing so in a private non-work capacity.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

We got rid of this a few years ago. One of the reasons was because the office temps were buying chocolate with their crappy wages.

4 ( +6 / -2 )


It so Japanese how Valentines Day has become institutionalized in such a lopsided way - where manager and males are recipients.

Its just weird.


1 ( +1 / -0 )

As much as I ueec to despise both girichoco and omiyage, I have gotten so much good stuff every year that I kind of like it now. I spend a good chunk of change on omiyage every time I go back home. That said, they both could go away and I wouldn't mind at all. Valentine's Day is a sappy corny day anyway.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

True, it's both silly and insincere, bit like sending business xmas cards to build (well buy) customers' loyalty, something which is still very popular in the west (especially in the anglo world).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think the holiday is fine. I personally prefer the Asian way over the American way. In America, after elementary school, guys don't receive anything. In America, its just another day where we give flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and dinner. In Japan, its a give and take kind of thing. I like it. I do think that you shouldn't give something for people if you don't want to. I also, don't want to receive something from someone just because they feel they have to give it.

The omiyage thing is nice, but I personally think it places an unnecessary financial burden and time burden on someone that is going away to de-stress and enjoy themselves. The concept that we have to work harder because you are going away is the company's fault for not properly developing a business continuity system that would still run smoothly while someone is out on vacation without inconveniencing the others.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As many have said, I kind of liked this, but also understand that it puts a financial burden on everyone, also, you people are WAAAY too wired up on being "Japanesey"....when I went anywhere out of the country from work ( or on Holiday, IN the country) the LAST thing I thought of was buying Omiyage's for people. It RARELY happened, and if it DID, it was because I wanted to, not that I felt obligated.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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