I went chocolate shopping recently. When I first arrived in Japan, my students taught me the expression Giri Choco. It means the sort of chocolate that one gives out to various people on Valentine’s Day….your boss, your teachers, your coworkers.

So, pleased with my new word, I went around saying, “I got you some Giri Choco!  Here you are!”  However, I learned later that Giri 義理 means “(social) duty, obligation”.  Thus it is chocolate given out of duty, obligation–because you HAVE to, not because you want to.  So of course it’s not a nice thing to say! It’s like saying, “Here is some Giri Choco that I bought just because I friggin’ have to.”

Not the sentiment I want to convey, so I stopped using the term Giri Choco loosely!

I bought Valentine’s Day chocolate for my husband and dear Japanese teachers (both female and male.)  All of us living in Japan know that chocolate on Valentine’s Day goes from female (giver) to male (recipient) but that doesn’t seem fair, so I wanted to show my deep and true appreciation to my Wednesday female Japanese teachers, who are both volunteers.

Okay, here are my photos.  Of course, most choco at this store is pretty typical, but I searched out their fun and crazy choco ‘cuz that’s the kind of girl I am!


My local Dai U 8 Max evidently loves Valentine’s Day as much as I do!


This is ALL choco!    Fun and crazy.

DSCF3621 DSCF3622

All choc!  I considered buying choco cigarettes and chocolate medicine, but in reality did not think that was such a great idea.   What if my teacher awoke in the middle of the night and took their chocolate instead of their Ambien?


I ended up getting this choco Ipad for my husband and my Friday Japanese teacher.  I thought it was really cute.  It says on the side, vertically, that it has “Long Stick Chocolate Inside”  So yeah, basically Pocky.  Okay, that’s fine.  I know–we were all wishing it was a replica chocolate ipad.  One can dream.


Also I got these chocolate notebooks for the Wednesday teachers.  Just really clever, I thought!  Perfect for a hardworking teacher.

The store wrapped my purchases really nicely.  One reason I prefer Walk til you Drop shopping over Sit and Click.


This is the 100 yen shop.  More choco cigarettes!  I remember buying candy cigarettes when I was a kid, and thinking I was oh so cool.

And for people that don’t like chocolate.  Yeah, I know, who doesn’t like chocolate????!!!!!!!  Apparently, people who prefer senbei (rice crackers) do exist.  Can you read the Japanese under the word AKEBONO?  It says, “Amakunai barentain” Translated:  “Valentine that is not sweet.”  (Yes, it loses something in the translation…..)



For those of you who are beginners at Japanese, I thought I would mention another common use of the word “Giri”.  It is also used in words like “Mother in Law”  Giri Haha, Giri Okaasan (Mother due to duty, social obligation)  It sounds harsh, but I think it’s saying basically, “Hey, we know your real mom is your real mom.  This is the lady who also your mom, but not necessarily your first choice.”  Okay, well, that still sounds harsh.  Whatever.