Japanese Valentine’s Day tradition is unusual. It is the women who give chocolate or presents to men.
There are two types of chocolates, “Giri-choco” (obligation chocolate), and “Honmei-choco”. Giri-choco is meant to be for friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends.
“Giri” means obligation hence this Giri-choco has no romance involved. On the other hand, Honmei-choco is given to a boyfriend, lover, or husband with true love.
Japanese women often prepare the Honmei-choco by themselves as many of them think it is not true love if they just buy the ready made chocolate at shops. You will start seeing large displays of chocolate, often heart-shaped in department stores and grocery stores from mid-January. Days before the Valentine’s Day, stores get packed with a large variety of chocolates.
Take a look at the Valentine’s Day sections of major Department stores such as Isetan, Marui, or Mitsukoshi, and experience the Valentine’s Day in Japanese style. Many different shapes from lovey sweet to really weird.
Although for or high school students, you can give Kitkat or chocolates that are sold at convenient stores.
What is more unique in Japan is that we haves what is called “White Day”, on March 14th, exactly one month after Valentine’s Day. On White Day men are supposed to return gifts to women who gifted them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. More often the color of the chocolate is white because of the name of the day. Flowers, candies and other gifts are also popular along with the chocolates. Again, department stores have many advanced reminders with gift displays so men will have no excuse to forget about this special day, which is important for women.
If you have a Japanese friend, colleague, or sweetheart and make sure to remember “White Day”, they will be so happy that you understand our culture.