The rise of “My Choco”

Around this time last year, I brought up the idea of “being romantic to yourself.” Back then, I had two or three students that told me (amidst giggles hidden behind a hand) that they’d gone to the department store and bought $100 chocolates… all for themselves! What scandal; what deliciousness! I’d thought it was a cool idea, and didn’t give it a lot more thought.

Well, it turns out that this is a trend that has continued and grown exponentially in popularity this year. Should you go to a department store to walk their Valentine’s “Road” (a long aisle with various vendors offering samples in their particular types of chocolates), perhaps you’ll be able to spot a few people picking only the best.. with no intention of sharing.

I still completely support the idea of “My Choco”, and here’s why.

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is when women typically prepare sweets and provide them to the men in their lives. There are various levels of sincerity and quality behind said goodies. For example, should a woman offer chocolates to all the men in her office, this is known as giri choco, or “obligation” chocolate–something she has to do in order to keep the peace, as it were. Tomo choco, or “buddy” chocolate, is exactly what it sounds like–offering goodies to your friends. This is a pretty new idea, and is very popular especially in junior and senior high schools throughout the country. Finally, there’s honmei choco, or “true” chocolate, which is what you’re meant to give to your lover.

Whatever level you do, whatever amount of chocolate you give, that’s a lot of work. Perhaps that work is “merely” going to the store and spending your hard-earned yens on fancy boxes of teeny truffles so your coworkers won’t give you the side-eye. Or perhaps you’re the sort to roll up your sleeves and make chocolate from scratch. This, by the way, surprised me with how difficult it is. Most people “just” melt chocolate bars and form them into cute shapes, but y’know what? That’s still a lot of time and effort into making others happy.

We live in a culture where people are expected to give endlessly. Particularly in Japan, you’re in the land of overtime, the land of providing gifts after each time you travel, the land of refusing to complain unless you’re safely behind locked doors, and even then it might be just to sigh. To go out of your way and spend some of your remaining energy on yourself via a cute box in adorable wrappings filled with little creamy chocolate pieces, then, is a special treat indeed.

Perhaps it’s my American values talking here, but I hope that this trend continues and that not only women, but men too are encouraged to go out and buy something nice for themselves. If they like sweets, they should go to that sweets shop. If they don’t, they should go for that fancy coffee place, or buy that good quality whatever-it-is. Then, I think people would be all the more mentally able and willing to give, give, and give.

What do you think of the MyChoco trend? Do you support it? Do you do it yourself? Or do you see a downside to it that I haven’t considered?

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