Casting off her familiar lollypop pink livery, Hello Kitty, the definitive symbol of 'kawaii' (Japanese for very cute), has taken on a classier look in readiness for February 14th. - St. Valentine's Day. This year's chocolate packaging is done out in a warm, rich chocolate brown, with beige type, and a beige and pinky-orange logo. The boxes are tied with a real cloth ribbon, in the same colors, and have a small metal ornament (real metal) chained through the ribbon. This is probably meant to become a mobile phone decoration - which young Japanese people love - after the chocolates are consumed. You can still see the familiar pink packaging in the range photo, shown as the small bag on the left. This is about the only 'traditional' Hello Kitty pack I saw. Maybe left-over packaging from last year, which might be why the re-design.
Valentine's Day is a very big deal in Japan. All of the sweet shops are already full of it, with huge displays of chocolate offerings in all shapes and sizes. But in keeping with usual Japanese form, there is a twist. Only women buy chocolate, and give it to men. Girlfriends to boyfriends, wives to husbands, even elementary school girls to male classmates. But because Japan is so group-oriented, and people are so keen to preserve harmony, then the gift-giving goes a stage further. To prevent those young men, whose secret fancy gives chocolate to another she admires more, becoming jealous, then the young lady is obliged to give 'giri-choc' (obligatory chocolate) to them as well. It is not unusual for young women to have to buy several dozen such giri-choc gifts. Of course the gift she gives her special someone will be larger, and more expensive. I hope the chocolate company executive who dreamed up that marketing scheme was suitably rewarded!
Part of the Hello Kitty range of chocolate packaging, showing the traditional pink color scheme on the left, and the cat-shaped chocolates.
But in one final piece of of money making madness, we have White Day. That is celebrated one month later, on March 14th. Men who were lucky enough to receive chocolates from a lady friend, should return the pleasure on White Day by purchasing a slightly more expensive box of chocolates (usually packaged in white, and often consisting of white chocolate) for her. Japanese people do love giving (and getting) gifts!
As you can see, even the chocolate inside the Hello Kitty packs is cat shaped. But at least it is not pink! I must look for Hello Kitty White Day packaging, and see what branding changes are made to that this year.