Japanese people give chocolate on Valentine’s Day!

As you may know, Valentine ’s Day is a Christian holiday. In Western countries men give greeting cards, flowers, and chocolate to their loved ones. In Japan, Japanese chocolate company “Merry chocolate” started selling chocolate promoting a “Valentine’s Sale” at the largest department store, “Isetan” in 1958. Following this, other chocolate companies took advantage of the opportunity to sell their chocolate on Valentine’s Day. It’s now become a big business and Valentine’s Day is recognized as a big event among Japanese people.




The rule is that, woman give chocolate to men!

Who gives the gift in your country? Do men give gifts to women and tell them that they love them? In Japan, a women giving chocolate to a man is more common. Handmade chocolate gives a more affectionate impression, so some girls try to make chocolate for their special guy and nicely wrap their handmade chocolate. You might also notice that chocolate is cheaper and more abundant at convenience stores during February.



Men are also busy!

Until now, you might have thought Japanese men are lucky to just be receiving chocolate, however Japanese Valentine’s Day culture also has “White Day” when men give women something nice. There is another custom called “Giri choco,” which literally means ‘obligatory-gift chocolate.’ These chocolates don’t contain any personal feelings of love and girls give them to coworkers and close colleagues at school. It’s going to be real busy preparing all that chocolate! I have a memory from my elementary school days when I gave my favorite boy a chocolate bar telling him that it’s a “Giri choco!” because I was too shy to give him fancy chocolate! Ah…it’s such a bitter story.

Maybe there will be similar scenarios happening during the busy Japanese Valentine’s Day this year.

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Writer / Translator

I’m a freelance translator from Tokyo who likes to travel right in the middle of the unpredictables in life. Through the translation of articles I hope to create points of contact between Japan and the rest of the world. As a writer, I want to add information that isn’t in the guide book, from a “wasabi” perspective!