Saturday, February 16, 2008

2/18/08 Valentine's Day

I didn't do anything for Valentine's Day for obvious reasons, but I wasn't alone. In Japan, February 14th is the day when women give chocolate to men. The men, well, they sit and eat chocolate. I read a bit about it a couple days before in a small paragraph in a wikipedia article. It mentioned something called giri-choco, combined from the words for "obligation" and "chocolate". So every woman in the office is supposed to give all the men in the office some kind of treat. We have quite a bit of staff, so they didn't each go buy something for everyone, but I did have one decent-sized box of chocolate waiting for me on my desk. I assume that all the women teachers put money in on it.

The men, then, are supposed to reciprocate on March 14, or White Day. Its looks like the idea is to give back white chocolate to all the ladies that graced you the month before. An interesting spin on a familiar marketing fueled ritual.


I had an interesting conversation with one of the other teachers at school on Friday. I was casually chatting with a coworker concerning their weekend plans. She mentioned that she was planning to go see a movie, and I commented that I think that theater tickets in Japan are outrageous (I don't know why, but I take a dark pleasure in reminding people here about how much cheaper just about everything single man-made object is in the US). There is only one movie theater in Ashikaga(that I have seen or heard about), and a normal ticket costs almost 17USD.

Another teacher heard this, and interjected that the reason ticket prices are so high is that the theaters in Japan must pay high fees back to the American movie companies. Not quite buying the explanation, I swiftly reminded him that Sony, headquartered in Tokyo, is one of the biggest companies in the entertainment business. Furthermore, domestically produced movies cost the same price at the ticket booth, and they needn't pay tribute to the Hun tribe known as Hollywood. He replied that the movie companies all have an agreement to keep the prices high. I replied that in the US, that is illegal. By this time the teacher had lost interest in this particular line of conversation, and walked away muttering, probably something amounting to "I know you are, but what am I?" Ah, internationalization is beautiful.

Another little tidbit thrown in was that the mayor has some sort of connection to the company that built the theater. They mentioned this while pointing to a fat stack of advertisements and coupons for movies that were meant to be passed out to each of our almost 800 students, I assume at the mayor's behest. Very interesting.

Hey remember when Sony was embarrassed by the revelation that it had created a fake movie critic(David Manning) who consistently gave good reviews to Sony-made movies? I sure do. He called Rob Schneider's The Animal "Another Winner!". That line must've blown his cover, as no genuine human would speak such nonsense. You can relive Sony's pain here.

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