It's Valentine's Day this week and Japan is doing what it does best - appropriating non-Japanese holidays and adding slightly odd packaging (This picture was taken by another Miyazaki ALT).
On Valentine's Day in the West, generally men give women flowers, chocolates, dinner dates, jewelry, and women might reciprocate with a card, a gift... or new lingerie. It's consumerist, mass marketed extravaganza, but one between two (hopefully) loving people nonetheless.
In Japan it's a little different. As with so many things here, Valentine's Day involves group obligation, hierarchy, respect, hassle, and putting yourself out to be nice to your community - for women, that is. Yes, it falls only to women to buy chocolates and gifts for their sweethearts and giri-choco or 'obligation chocolate' for their co-workers and bosses. As a result, the holiday seems to be widely resented and less popular co-workers are left with 'token' chocolate, rather than a heartfelt gift. However, in a stroke of genius, chocolate marketers came up with White Day for 14th March, when men can pay back their benefactors in kind.
My students have been handing in homework late because of chocolate-cooking activities (hand-making the treats is popular here), but save for a surprise sent in the post, I'm drawing the line at leaving a box of sweets in the staff kitchen. For first time in 3 years I'll be aloooooone on V Day, and most likely will be celebrating with machination, intrigue and cold blooded revenge. In other words, I have a date House of Cards.
As such, and in an effort to streamline my bookmarks page, my Valentine's gift to you is a round up of my favourite things from around the interwebz of late.
If you have not seen the first season of House of Cards, do not read these recaps via texts from someone's mum.
I used to find this type of post on badly translated signs a little mean, but hilarious. Having spent 6 months grappling with the language and telling people "Watashi wa nihongo ga tabemasen" ("I do not eat Japanese"), I just find them hilarious.
Speaking of signs, someone has been trolling the London Underground recently.
The best ever combination is the cast of Game of Thrones and their cat doppelgangers .
"There are two aspects to the ebook that seem to me profoundly to alter the relationship between the reader and the text. With the book, the reader's relationship to the text is private, and the book is continuous over space, time and reader. Neither of these propositions is necessarily the case with the ebook. "
Why e-Books are a different genre from print .
I'm a sucker for awesome photographs of random subcultures .
The best rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody I've ever seen.
And finally... every couple's Valentine dilemma.