For the past two

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For the past two weeks, every shop in Tokyo has displayed its Valentine wares in anticipation of today, the national chocolate gift-fest.

Women all over the country will present the men in their lives--husbands, boyfriends, bosses, coworkers--with elaborately wrapped chocolates. I've not seen any lace covered, heart-shaped boxes, but everything else is available: gold paper roses on a hexagonal black box; red foil paper decorated with white hearts; even pink Hello Kitty shaped containers of shiny plastic. Fashion designers offer chocolate for the season in their signature colors and elevated prices.

Note that women give to men, not vice versa. That's just the way it is. Ironically, common wisdom holds that men don't eat chocolate. I'm not sure what happens to all the fancy, expensive boxes they receive. Shoved in a desk drawer, perhaps.

There is some reciprocation. On March 14th, men celebrate White Day by returning white chocolate (or white panties, depending on the level of friendship involved) to the women who gave them Valentine's chocolate. A few years ago at work, I gave five or six Valentine's chocolates, but received only one White Day gift in return. Candies, not panties.

I'm off to buy some chocolate to improve my chances for new underwear this year. Happy Valentine's Day.

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