Culture Food

How Japanese Celebrate Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day, such a beautiful and traditional day for the couples except in Japan ! In the home country of Sushi, people offer different types of chocolate on Valentine's Day depending on the gender of the sender and the social status of the receiver. In Japan, Valentine's Day was introduced by chocolate manufacturers in the 50's. It became a commercial event where women (only they) offer chocolates to men on February 14th. How wonderful isn't it ? Generally men have to make presents and do a lot of things but in Japan women are in charge ! Despite the initial lack of interest about this event, Valentine's Day finally became very popular, had a lot of influence over the young generation and inspire many manga like B Gata H Kei.

Social Convention 

The men who received chocolates February 14th will have the opportunity to offer women a gift in return, with the creation of the white day, celebrated March 14th. As a present, women receive white chocolate or jewelry. The value of these gifts can be three times higher than the chocolates of these ladies so be ready to take out your money ! The absence of a gift in return must be considered as a sign of a one-sided love. This custom was born from an advertising campaign of confectioners and confectioners association dating from 1980. The chocolates given by women on Valentine's Day to men are called honmei chocolates (本命チョコ, honmei choco). This gift is considered a mark of love. Japanese women are also asked to give chocolates to men for whom they do not have special relationships or attachments, like their co-workers or their supervisor. This present, called chocolate giri (義理チョコ, giri choco) is considered a mark of politeness and a social obligation. It happens that friends, usually during high school, offer tomo chocolates to each others (友チョコ, tomo choco) as the Kanji 友 means friendship. There are also daddy choco (パパチョコ, papa choco) offered by girls to their father. In both cases, we speak of sewa choco (世話チョコ), chocolates that express gratitude. 
Finally some men offer chocolates to women on Valentine's Day called gyaku (逆チョコ, gyaku choice) as the Kanji 逆 means reverse. This trend demonstrates the desire of the Japanese to celebrate Valentine's Day in a more Western way, but above all to show gratitude and sympathy for women who until now had to wait for the white day celebrated to get something in return. These chocolates are recognizable by their packaging whose printing is voluntarily returned.


Find the best chocolate of your city !

Now you know how Japanese people celebrate Valentine's Day try to find the best chocolate to the person/people you like ! It might cost you some money depending on your gender and the importance of the gift but in the end it is a very funny and interesting way of discovering new cultural aspects of Japan. 

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Fabien Mizart

Author & Translator