Sanbai Gaeshi (三倍返し): Tripling the Return on White Day


“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.” ~ Maya Angelou

I should've opted for the Donut/Jewelry set!!

I should’ve opted for the Donut/Jewelry set!!

Okinawa White Day 2014, Jody's puzzle-piece cardOkinawa White Day 2014, flowers for Jody“White Day” (ホワイトデー Howaito Dē) is a day for Asian men to show their affections for the special females in their lives, celebrated in Japan and some other Asian countries (South Korea, China and Taiwan) one month after Valentine’s Day on March 14th. White Day has clearly become a very popular day in Japan; more than half of Japan’s annual chocolate sales happen between late February and mid-March when “White Day” occurs. White Day was created in Japan (unsurprisingly by their National Confectionery Industry Association) around 1980 to, uhm, help “soften the guilt” of males who received VD chocolates from one or more ladies. Exactly one month after Valentine’s Day, men who were lucky enough to receive sugar-infused foodstuffs are given the chance to return the favor, and then some. In a sexist twist that seems to have not been lost in translation between West and East, the expectation for these return gifts is to be of higher value than those purchased by women!

It appears that 43% if Japanese females are social loners....

It appears that 43% if Japanese females are social loners….

Valentine’s Day in Japan takes an interesting turn away from that of the West: women traditionally do all the giving on February 14th (see my blog here for our Valentine’s Day this year in Japan). When chocolate companies originally started pushing the Western idea of VD in Japan, they focused on women as sole givers. At the time, Japanese women were quite conservative in voicing affections, so the rather novel idea of surrogate chocolates was immediately and widely embraced.

One way to tell the women in your life to "eat me"....

One way to tell the women in your life to “eat me”….

So, here on Okinawa, Valentine’s Day is typically observed by girls and women presenting chocolate gifts to boys or men as an expression of love, courtesy, or sometimes social or workplace obligation. On White Day, the reverse happens: men who received a honmei-choco (本命チョコ, “chocolate of love”) or giri-choco (義理チョコ, “courtesy chocolate”) on Valentine’s Day are expected to return the favor by giving gifts on March 14th.

Okinawa White Day 2014, gifts for my Desi D (desideratum)

Okinawa White Day 2014, Fuji candies for mountainous JOkinawa White Day 2014, sizeable gifts for Ride'em JTraditionally, popular White Day gifts include specialized cookies, white chocolate, and chocolates, as well as objects of sentimental value, such as jewelry or white lingerie. However, in very Western custom, men are held to a different standard, literally, sanbai gaeshi (三倍返し, “triple the return”). In other words, a man’s return gift to a female should be two to three times the worth of the original Valentine’s gift!

White Day clothing campaign; shown in almost actual size!!

White Day clothing campaign; shown in almost actual size!!

Japan by average bra size.

Japan by average bra size.

Japan does offer my size, however....

Japan does offer my size, however….

I’m never one to skimp on spending, especially when lingerie is involved. Much to my chagrin, there just aren’t the lingerie sizes available in Japan to fit a very healthy curvaceous triple-D shaped woman like my Jody. Believe me, I have looked and searched, and while the Japanese can come close (see a fellow blogger’s related trials and tribulations here), bras simply aren’t like hand grenades and horseshoes, and “close” isn’t good enough. Jody will just have to settle for a form-fitting wetsuit instead, an Okinawan-equivalent of lingerie for diehard scuba divers.

Jody's heartfelt wetsuit, an Okinawan version of diver lingerie

Jody’s heartfelt wetsuit, an Okinawan version of diver lingerie

Okinawa White Day 2014, beautiful Japanese chocolates!Okinawa White Day 2014, beautiful Japanese chocolates!!Taking a few trips to the main department stores on Okinawa (Jusco and San A), I found a wide array of gifts devoted to White Day. In fact, there was so much floor space devoted to such gifting, that I soon found myself overwhelmed, and ended up spending quite a bit of time culling down my selections so that I didn’t appear to go too over the top (although spoiling Jody is part of my agenda). The chocolate sets that the Japanese offer are works of art unto themselves, while some of the themes are quite relevant, like Mount Fuji candies where we will climb next year and a candy-filled JR train reminiscent of our Kyoto adventures this past January. The best thing about shopping for these sets is that the stores all have a display area where shoppers can examine the sets’ contents. While this helps negate the thorny issues of translation (what exactly is that candy and what is it made from?), there is still a healthy amount of adventuresome guesswork in ultimate selections. And an equal amount sometimes in trying the items brought home! Oh, and don’t forget about the on-site customized gift-wrapping services which any Christmas-time Macy’s back home would be envious of.

Jody enjoys her tripled returns!!

Jody enjoys her tripled returns!!

Okinawa White Day 2014, space trip rocket to love!Okinawa White Day 2014, Jody's gift table for White DayIn my opinion, having two different days dedicated to male-female gift-giving seems to make a lot more sense. Yes yes, if you’re overly cynical, the split is really just all about sales, money and big business. However, being a little more familiar with the Japanese psyche, I do believe that men did in essence “need” their own gift-giving day; the Japanese are much more socially endeared in ways that most Western societies may not be. I for one enjoyed having a day for Jody to spoil me, and I certainly enjoyed my time planning, shopping, and spoiling her back, at triple the return!

Okinawa Mar 2014, White Day, gifts for my Love

Oh, and the smiles included and incited by White Day? All free and given freely…to the one I Love.

Okinawa White Day 2014, Jody models her Japanese white day chocolates

Do Sweat the Small Stuff


dont-sweat-the-small-stuff“From small beginnings come great things.” ~Proverb quotes

“When you drink the water, remember the spring.” ~Chinese Proverb

So, with the majority of our stuff still firmly rooted in the states (see Castaway), I’ve decided to, every once in a while, focus on the smallest things that I find myself missing the most.  In other words, I think we all should actually start sweating the small stuff.

enjoy-the-little-things1

Just make sure it’s the little things worth sweating. In other words, a year from now when you look back upon your life, what will matter most?  It won’t be our household goods SNAFU….

give-me-butterflies-butterflies-cover

Little-thingsA couple of years ago I bought a book for me and Jody as either a Valentine’s Day present or anniversary gift; don’t hold that lapse in memory – it’s a small detail!  The book is You Still Give Me Butterflies: Feel Like You’re Falling In Love…Again by Laura Corn.  From the book itself, “There’s nothing like brand–new love.  It takes your breath away.  It makes your heart race.  It feels like butterflies inside you, all taking flight at once.  BESTSELLING AUTHOR LAURA CORN is back with two dozen fun, flirty, romantic and sexy surprises for committed couples.  The Red pages are For Her Eyes Only, and the Gold pages are For His Eyes Only….”

A Cuteness-Based Japanese Approach to Saving

A Cuteness-Based Japanese Approach to Saving

Each Chapter focuses on inspirational ideas, complete with “secret” instructions, clues, or invitations to play printed on beautiful butterfly cutouts for him and her contained in sealed envelopes, which will tell how exactly to prepare a breathtaking romantic surprise for your sweetheart.  The idea is to exchange cards every month or so.  Not only is the card a love note, it heralds a delicious surprise is on the way!

Life with Jody 2013, the Love JugJody handed me a butterfly and lead me into the kitchen.  It was a simple, yet brilliant idea:  THE LOVE JUG.  The idea:  recognize, enhance, and generate acts of intimacy between us.  The execution:  a glass candy-jar, decorated with instructions and icons of love.

Our Love Jug!!

Our Love Jug!!

Life with Jody 2013, the Love Jug (vertical)So, every time we do something intimate for each other, we pay into the Love Jug.  And this is important:  intimacy does not equal sex; intimacy starts in the mind, and is inherent and best recognized in the smallest acts done for one another.  Anyone can buy a card on Valentine’s Day, and anyone can go out to dinner.  But what about a love note in her lunchbox, or cooking her breakfast, or writing her a steamy sexual fantasy, or hell, even doing domestic engineering chores so she doesn’t have to?!?  The amount deposited is rather unimportant; spare change at times, dollar bills at others, maybe a tax return or refund from an overpaid account.  Change hitting the glass vessel results a very distinctly audible announcement.  However, it is the sword-drawing echoing “sha—RING” created by taking off and putting back on the thin metal top as it slides against its glass coupling that is wholly unmistakable and so totally audible throughout our home.  Either sound alone is enough to bring a smile to your face and warmth into your heart.  It is the sound of intimacy.  And it happens often with our Love Jug.

Never-get-tired-of-doing-little

Life with Jody 2013, the Love Jug (dark)We committed to this idea for just over a year, maybe 15 months.  We decided the focus of the money would be for a yet-to-be planned overseas vacation as a graduation present for ourselves once we both finished our graduate degrees.  We settled on Scotland, and when the Love Jug was cashed in, we were amazed to find that we had almost $1,800!  And while it’s almost too tempting to focus on the numbers – how much is that a year ($1,440), month ($120), week ($30), and day ($4) – it is much more important to realize how amazing that such small but frequent acts of intimacy and love accumulate so quickly in our lives.  What a difference this small idea has had in our lives…all for the “cost” of less than a foo foo coffee at Starbucks a day.

Yeah, those will work.  But our way is a lot more fun!

Yeah, those will work. But our way is a lot more fun!

4f45f0bab8ef4542c722700f3c28b0c2And out of the over 6,000 pounds of “stuff” coming our way in seven weeks (hopefully), right now I miss our Love Jug the most.  Thank you Wife:  you still give me butterflies!