Valentine’s Day Japan- a very chocolatey guide

By Kashiking on January 11, 2017

Valentine’s Day Japan style, is like so many things, a little bit different to elsewhere. Sure it’s all about giving chocolate, but not as the usual romantic gesture you might know it as. Japanese women give chocolate to men, and not just their partner or lover, but pretty much every male they know. Men then return this gift one month later on ‘white day’. This might leave you thinking ‘huh?’, so this article will help unravel this unique custom.

Why do only the women give chocolates on Valentine’s Day in Japan?

Though it’s tempting to blame sexual discrimination, the real reason for this custom is a plain and simple case of lost in translation.

Back in the 50s, Morinaga, one of the leading confectionary companies in Japan decided to introduce valentine’s day into Japan. The marketing message got a little mixed up though, and at some point the idea that valentine’s day is a time for women to show affection to men took root. And that’s how it’s stayed.

Is Valentine’s day Japan chocolate given out of love??

In short, no. Women give pretty much every male they know some chocolate. The word duty is often used: “giri- choco” means literally duty chocolate. In other words, chocolate that has to given to some senior figure in a woman’s company. There is another expression: “tomo-choco”. This means friend- chocolate, which is pretty self explanatory.

Of course, women give their partner or husband some chocolate as a gift, but so much of the romance!

Why Japan gets all chocolate obsessed on Valentine’s Day

Japan is renowned for it’s amazing range of snacks but February 14th is strictly about chocolate, no diamond necklaces or even cakes, strictly chocolate.

Not really surprising seeing as it was the chocolate giants who introduced the Japanese to the whole Valentine’s thing.

Apart from the big confectionary makers that include Meiji, who sit in the top ten of the world’s sweet makers, the really high grade chocolate is available in the many department stores. Chains like Godiva, Mont. St Clair are just a couple of the hundreds of so-called chocolatiers set up in Tokyo.

Seeing as a set of four Godiva chocos can blow a $10-15 sized hole in your pocket, the average Japanese woman is not keen on going up market to meet all her giri-choco needs. This perhaps explains why a lot of people go for the home made option.

A lot of ladies, and even some men, have become absolute masters at home-made chocolate.

Here’s a quick video…


Pretty mouth watering stuff…..

OK boys, now it’s your turn

The whole homemade chocolate thing of course presents a bit of a problem for the chocolate companies of course who want people to buy their goods.

So, to balance things up and probably as a bit more of a marketing opportunity, March the 14th became the day that men should buy back some gifts in return. The value of the returned item should be at least three times the value of the original gift.

This kind of makes sense seeing as the men often get higher salaries than their female counterparts. Leading up to the 14th March you’ll see special displays for white day chocolates and a whole bunch of men desperately trying to remember who gave them valentine’s chocos. Ironically it’s often their wives who end up doing this:-)

If you are wondering just what to give your special one this Valentines, how about a special box packed to the brim with delicious Japanese snacks?? Order now to get them in time for the 14th February.

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