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Japanese Valentine’s Day

Uwajimaya | Japanese Valentine's Day
February 14 is Valentine's day, a day when couples exchange gifts and eat out at fancy restaurants, but in Japan, only the women give presents (mainly chocolates) to men.

Valentine’s Day was introduced to Japan in the 1950s by confectionery makers. It was promoted as a day for women to give men chocolates. By the 70’s, Valentine’s Day had become a big business. Chocolate makers were making their own Valentine’s Day chocolates and establishing chocolate giving traditions. Here are a few different types of chocolates that are given in Japan on Valentine’s Day.

Giri-Choco (obligation chocolates) – These chocolates are given without romantic association to male coworkers, classmates or friends. They’re usually small and store bought. Many companies package their chocolates in small Valentine’s Day themed wrappers, specifically made to be used as giri-choco.

Honmei-choco (true love chocolate) – These chocolates are given to those whom the girl has romantic feelings for, such as a husband or boyfriend. Honmei chocolates can be handmade or expensive store-bought chocolates.

Tomo-choco (friend chocolate) – These chocolates are usually exchanged between girls as a sign of friendship.

Japanese men aren’t off the hook though. Exactly one month later, on March 14, is White Day, when it’s the men’s turn to give presents, but we’ll leave that for another post.