Valentine’s Day in Japan

How it goes with Valentine’s Day in Japan ?

Saint Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14th is cerebrated around the world. Each country has its own custom how to cerebrate this day. How it goes in Japan?

The day for women give Chocolates to men.

Rather than couples exchanging cards or gifts each other, only women give gifts on Valentine’s Day in Japan. Normally the gift is chocolate. It has no religious meaning in Japanese Valentine.

There are 2 types of chocolates.

One is so called “Girl-choko” which is given by women to male friends, co-workers and bosses as a thanks gift. Girl-choco is translated to “Obligation-choco”. Women “have to” spend some money to distribute Giri-choco to males who have some relationships in daily life. Recently there is a tendency that companies ban giving or accepting Giri-choco in the office on Valentine’s Day.

The other one is “Honmei-choco” which women give someone special. “Honmei” means “the one whom she truly loves”. In many cases it is chocolate for boyfriend, husband or whom she is attracted to.

Usually Giri-choco is inexpensive, average 500 yen to 1000yen (for yonger, the less.) Women spend more than 1000 yen on Honmei-choco or even they make handmade chocolate. These days addition to chocolate, various gifts such as nice ties and handkerchiefs are added, especially for someone special.

White Day  for MEN to return.  On March 14th

Another thing special about Japanese Valentine is White Day, March 14th. It is the day for MEN to return the gift to women. Actually White Day is Japanese invention. Unfortunately it is said that men are expected to return as twice or triple value as they are given. Usually men give women candy, marshmallows, or chocolate, sometimes along with a small gift, such as an accessory on White Day.

The custom changing little by little.

This Japanese style Valentine’s custom started in 1960s when a confectionery company ran a promotion encouraging women to send chocolate to men they like. The promotion succeeded greatly because Japanese female loved to be given the excuse to confess to the loved one once a year. Confectionery makers make half of their annual sales at this time of the year.

As we came to know the custom of giving chocolates came from the commercial purposes, some people are not tied to traditional way of Valentine any more, “only women to men” matters. These days more women give chocolate to female friends or female family members as a thanks gift, too.  There is also a dispute about Giri-choco culture, because some people (both female and male) feel rather burden than fun. So custom is changing time to time.

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A national government licensed tour guide in English loves to introduce Japanese life with unique photos📸. Mainly Tokyo🇯🇵 and surroundings.

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