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Posts Tagged ‘japanese courtship’

One of my junior high students wrote about a graduation ceremony at her school. She said that her sempai gave one of her friends a button but this friend didn’t particularly like this sempai. And also that one other friend took home 15 buttons but couldn’t remember from whom she had taken the buttons. Puzzled, I asked some of the teachers about these “buttons”. They all started to laugh, saying that it was common among junior and senior high school girls to ask for the Dai-ni button (第二ボタン, button found second from the top on a boy’s school coat) of a sempai they liked, and the sempai gave it if he liked the kohai who asked.

So then the people in the office started to talk about how they did or didn’t receive Dai-ni buttons. One guy said that he wasn’t that cool at that time so no one ever asked for his Dai-ni button. We were totally laughing at this point (you’d have to know this guy’s history to find it funny, sorry). The talk moved from that to the recently celebrated White Day, of which I asked why it was so popular among young people to have these subtle “I like you” exchanges. One lady explained that generally Japanese people were shy and that without these occasions, they would have no chance to tell each other their feelings. As most things here are left unsaid, but understood by all anyway, and everything is about subtlety, I still feel like an outsider wondering about Dai-ni buttons and gift exchanges…

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