Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chinese Lantern Festival and Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is celebrated in Japan on the same day, but it is pretty much the inverse of the American version. In Japan, women buy chocolate for guys. There are essentially two types of chocolate, one that is given for romantic reasons, and "obligation" chocolate which is given to coworkers/bosses/etc. Chocolate given for romantic reasons is unsurprisingly more extravagant and expensive than obligation chocolate, and the holiday can end up being quite expensive. A month later is White Day, where guys return the gift of chocolate. Morinaga was trying to start a trend with Gyako-Choco (reverse chocolate), where guys buy chocolate for the girls on Valentine's Day.

Last week marked the end of the Nagasaki lantern festival, which occurred the week prior. I went twice towards the end, once at night and once during the day. Various areas of the city were dressed up with lanterns, and around the central area there was a stage for performances and some displays. At night it was extremely packed. I think I saw more foreigners in that one night alone compared to the entire semester prior. I watched an Okinawan dance that took place on the stage, and the Kunchi performers did the dragon dance at Shianbashi. Some pics:

Lanterns in Shianbashi

This is an area where people were lighting incense and praying. Those are real piggies.
There were lots of figures such as these around the central/Shianbashi area.
Lots of people. And somebody's cellphone.

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