05m 00s

"Chocolate Sellers Looking at Ways to Avoid Raising Prices Ahead of Valentine's Day"

Learn Japanese from the News

Broadcast on February 13, 2023 Available until February 12, 2024

Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News." In this program we learn Japanese and more about Japan from news stories presented in simple Japanese. Today's headline is "Chocolate Sellers Looking at Ways to Avoid Raising Prices Ahead of Valentine's Day" which was published on NEWS WEB EASY's website on January 16, 2023. Keywords include「バレンタインデー(ばれんたいんでー)barentain-dee」"Valentine's Day" and「なるべく narubeku」"if possible."



"Chocolate Sellers Looking at Ways to Avoid Raising Prices Ahead of Valentine's Day"

Welcome to "Learn Japanese from the News."
Join us as we learn Japanese and about the country from Japanese-language news stories.
Today's headline is・・

バレンタイン 店(みせ)はチョコレートを高(たか)くしない方法(ほうほう)を考(かんが)える
"Chocolate Sellers Looking at Ways to Avoid Raising Prices Ahead of Valentine's Day"
This news story was published on NEWS WEB EASY's website on January 16th.
Now, let's go over some vocab words that will help us understand what's going on.
Valentine's Day
if possible
Let's keep these words in mind as we listen.
Today's story is about a chocolate shop in Tokyo that's getting ready for Valentine's Day. Amid rising consumer prices, they're trying different things to avoid having to raise their chocolate prices.
Valentine's Day in Japanese is バレンタインデー. It's celebrated annually on February 14th, like it is in the U.S. and the U.K.
But unlike those countries, in Japan it's typically seen as a day for women to give chocolate to men as a gesture of affection.

Now let's break down the following sentence from the story.
This is the quote from the chocolate shop's sales director.
"We've thought about ways we can avoid raising prices, if possible.
The なる in なるべく means "to become" or "to come to a certain result."  So なるべく refers to making a conscious effort to achieve a certain outcome.
So here it's used to express that the chocolate shop is doing its best to avoid having to up its prices.
When we really want to emphasize putting in maximum effort, we use expressions like できるだけ and できる限(かぎ)り, which mean"as much as one can" or "as much as possible." Compare that to なるべく, which means "if possible." So when you really want to insist that someone does everything they can, use できるだけ or できる限(かぎ)り.
OK. Let's wrap up the show today by talking about some Japanese Valentine's Day customs. It may surprise some of our listeners to learn that in Japan women gift chocolate not just to the romantic partners, but also to friends, coworkers, and even bosses. And not all chocolates are created equal.  
Right. There are several types. Chocolates women give as a non-romantic gesture to male coworkers and acquaintances are called 義理(ぎり)チョコ― "obligation chocolate."
義理(ぎり) means sense of duty or courtesy. Basically, the idea is that you're giving chocolate to this person as a frankly or kind gesture, so they don't feel left out.
That's in contrast to 本命(ほんめい)チョコ, which is what we call chocolate women give to their significant other or romantic interest. 本命(ほんめい)means "first choice" or "one's heart's desire."
Of course, there are people who object to Valentine's Day for being too commercial or consumerist. But I think most people in Japan just think of it as a fun, lighthearted holiday.  
And of course, it's always nice to get chocolates.
Tune in next time for more!

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