Japanese Valentine’s Day and Goofy Zumba

From pizza to Disneyland, Japan puts their own flavor on everything. If Japan adopts something from another culture, they make it all their own, adding new twists and only things that the Japanese could understand. Sometimes it ends up being even better than the original. As a foreigner, it makes everything that much more entertaining.

Take Valentine’s Day for example. In Japan, it is the tradition that women lavish the men with gifts. No dates. No candle-lit dinner. No reciprocity of romance. Instead, the supermarkets and gift shops provide every means to allow the ladies to create the sweetest treats to give to their husbands or boyfriends or to pile atop their male classmates’, coworkers’ and teachers’ desks. And then, on White Day which falls on March 14, the men are expected to exceed the generosity by giving the women gifts three-times the value.

Sitting here in the teachers’ staff room, I witness this phenomenon. All day long, countless students have been lining up to give their teachers goodie bags filled with their homemade sweets. One of my coworkers, a man of popularity among all the students, is accumulating an impressive pile. It would probably be in his best interest to start a special savings account for White Day!

Zumba is another way Japan has taken something and made it, in my opinion, much better. We are members at a local gym and usually try to keep a low profile and only use the machines and weight equipment. But on occasion, we join the group fitness classes.

 I decided to brave the Zumba class. It was honestly one of the most enjoyable things I have done here in Nobeoka! Our instructor, an energetic Japanese man full of a very unique flamboyance, rocked a Goofy costume during the class (or at least until he started suggestively stripping it off). The old Japanese women and I were instructed to shake our butts and swing our hips to an impressive playlist while Goofy encouraged us to be a little more “shexy.” It was a blast!

Well, that’s all for now!

Happy belated Valentine’s Day,


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