Valentine’s Day In Japan: The Good and Bad News


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Ahh Valentine’s Day. The one day of the year when women anxiously await receiving something which is delicious now but let’s face it, is going to make us insecure about out butt later. The chocolate, the flowers, the sweets. . . . oh how delicious.

Like many other holidays which can be made commercial and cute in any way Japan observes Valentine’s Day. However it is not the same Valentine’s day you have in mind. In fact rather than men anxiously scouring the shelves trying to find something for the ladies in their lives the rolls are actually reversed.That’s right ladies, you’re the ones who are responsible for getting something for the men.

Generally speaking the gift of choice is chocolate of which there are two main types. The first is basically obligatory chocolate (Giri Choco). This is something that you would give to all the men that are in your life, even not in the romantic sense. For example your coworkers would receive Giri Choco. For those who are important in your life such as a love interest you would give them Honmei Choco or “True Feelings Chocolate”. This usually is the “king size” to Giri Choco’s “fun size” if you know what I mean. Prepackaged Honmei Choco may be larger then what you give to those out of obligation and in many cases has some hand made element.

Now before all the men sit back in their chairs with that sly grin on their faces you’re not off the hook. There’s another day next month called “White Day” were you’re going to return the favor. More on that later!

Overall the tradition seems very much to me like what grade school children do during Valentine’s Day by bringing in small candy treats and cards for everyone in the class. Of course if there is someone special they might bring something a bit more but everyone feels the “love”.

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