45: Culture: Valentine’s Day in Japan

valentines culture

Hey guys!

Happy Valentine’s Day!! โค I hope you all received/made/gave/whatever’d chocolate today! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love that the loveliest holiday of all totally set today’s topic for me! Like most holidays we celebrate in western cultures, of course Valentine’s Day is different over here. Let’s take a look at the day of looooove in Japan!

whats different

woman giving choco

Well for starters, only women give chocolate on Valentine’s Day. (wut)

Typically, chocolate is given by a woman to a man to show:
1) She looooves him (ๆœฌๅ‘ฝใƒใƒงใ‚ณ, honmei chocolate)
2) She appreciates his friendship (ouch)
3) He’s her boss or coworker and she kinda had to. (both 2 and 3 are called ็พฉ็†ใƒใƒงใ‚ณ, giriย  chocolate)

Don’t worry! The man will generally return the chocolate-y favor on March 14, which is called White Day. (You guessed it, I’ll do a post on that closer to the time! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) If you are given chocolate by a guy on February 14th, it’s called ้€†ใƒใƒงใ‚ณ (gyaku chocolate). This just means ‘reverse order’ chocolate.

Oh! It’s also normal to give chocolate to your girl friends, if you want. These are called ๅ‹ใƒใƒงใ‚ณ (tomo chocolate).

There’s etiquette and everything on the different levels of chocolate giving. For example, you would want to use the best ingredients or buy really expensive chocolate if it was given as honmei chocolate. Giri chocolate can be cheaper, but obviously try to not make it look cheap. (LOL) Oh! There’s also differences in tomo chocolate and giri chocolate, and little things you can do to differentiate the two.

The differences (kind of) explained in wrapping:
choco wrapping

Different ways to give chocolate




Before I forget

There’s not really any ‘other’ types of candy given. Like where I’m from in the states, you can look forward to an entire aisle of Valentine’s Day candy at the supermarket with everything from chocolate to seasonal versions of popular candy. Pretty much the entire aisle is themed red, white and pink and covered in hearts or flowers. Not so much here. You may run into cookies or the occasional seasonal candy in Japan, but for the most part it’s straight up chocolate.

Also, they aren’t big on saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day.’ Without going into a grammar lesson, I’ll just say that it translates weird. I still teach my kids, though.

happy val day

I think that just about covers it!

What do you think? Is it better to hand-make your Valentine’s valentine? Would you rather buy a fancy box chocolate set? Would you have the patience to wait for White Day?

Let’s talk about it! Share, share!

Trish sign blog




One thought on “45: Culture: Valentine’s Day in Japan

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