Valentine's Day in Japan: Creolized Consumption Rituals, Gender Power Negotiation, and Self-Actualization in the Age of Overconsumption
Similar to Christmas, Valentine’s Day is a creolized and popularly celebrated consumption ritual in Japan. A unique aspect of it is that the communication between genders is asymmetric: customarily only women give gifts to men and not vice versa. The present study investigates the multifaceted meanings of the consumer holiday based on semiotic text and pictorial analyses of advertisements that appeared in women’s magazines. Purportedly romantic in its nature, the hybridized ritual protocol, which mandates gift-giving, manifests in advertisements as philosophical monologue about self-actualization, materialism, social power relationships between genders, and the role of consumption which mediates and controls such relationships. Analysis leads to the conclusion that commercially constructed gift-giving rituals in Japan are overconsumption fanfare for hedonistic self-indulgence and superfluous self-actualization.
Keywords: Gift Giving Rituals, Creolization, Consumption, Culture, Genders
Associate Professor, School of Business, Long Island University - Brooklyn Campus