On Valentine’s Day, women in Japan give chocolate to men, and not only ones they’re romantically involved with. They also commonly give gifts of chocolate to their male coworkers as a general-purpose thank-you for various assistance and support throughout the year.
Chocolate given to platonic coworkers is often called giri choo, which translates to “obligation chocolate,” in recognition of the fact that it’s given as part of an established social nicety, not because of any romantic attraction. But since women have far more coworkers than lovers, shopping for obligation chocolate can be a time-consuming hassle, which is why Tokyo now has a special store dedicated to selling obligation chocolate.
Last weekend saw the opening of the Black Thunder Obligation Chocolate Shop pop-up store. The store is managed by Yuraku Confectionery, makers of Black Thunder, the unabashed king of giri choco.
Black Thunder chocolates’ crowd-pleasing yet simple and unpretentious sweetness, plus their incredibly low price, make them the perfect giri choco, since they’ll by appreciated by anyone, but their lack of fanciness means no one will get the wrong idea and think the girl who gave it to him actually has a crush on him. Knowing that many women will be looking to pick up a couple boxes before Valentine’s Day, Yuraku Confectionery has opened the Black Thunder Obligation Chocolate Shop in the Tokyo Station Ichibangai underground shopping center, which is connected to Tokyo Station.
Among the items on offer is a huge box of 100 pieces of Black Thunder, so that even women in large companies can just pick up a single crate (for 2,000 yen [US$18]) and be instantly finished with their giri choco shopping by passing one out to each of their male officemates.
Those wishing to put just a little more thought into the gift-giving process can opt for the special Greek Yogurt Flavor (rendered in Japanese as “girishia” yogurt), which is a giri chocolate exclusive only available at the giri choco store, for 1,000 yen for a 16-piece box.
It’s also the only Black Thunder flavor with Zeus on the package.
Or, if you’re willing to splurge ever so slightly, from February 8 to 14 the store will also be selling Black Thunder Elegant, which features a layer of fudge-like nama chocolate and hints of strawberry and black currants.
Of course, the shop will offer regular Black Thunder, and shoppers can also pick up ordinarily region-exclusive flavors like white chocolate, which ordinarily you’d have to go all the way to Hokkaido for.
The Black Thunder Obligation Chocolate Shop’s existence comes as a great relief to those who worried that the brand was getting out of the giri choco game. But the company that stood up to Godiva when the Belgian chocolatier took a swipe at the Japanese custom a year ago is still there to help out women who’re planning to say thank-you with sweets this Valentine’s Day, and the pop-up store will be open until February 14.
Black Thunder Obligation Chocolate Shop /
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouci 1 (Tokyo Station Ichibangai Basement Level 1)