Valentine's Day is a familiar concept to most people. As with many popular cultural aspects, Japan has quite an interesting way of celebrating this day. Read on to find out more.

Useful Valentine Vocabs

  1. Giri choco (義理チョコ): literally means obligation chocolate. This type of chocolate is exchanged between co-workers, or junior/seniors as an obligation.
  2. Honmei choco (本命チョコ): this type of chocolate is given to a person as an expression of romantic feelings.
  3. White Day: celebrated on March 14th, as a way to reciprocate your feelings towards someone who gave something to you on Valentine's Day.

Genevieve from Singapore shares her thoughts on one of the most commercialized pop cultures in Japan.

"Chocolate everywhere!!!"
source: Tadaima Japan

First Impressions

I guess my first impressions of Valentine’s Day celebrations in Japan (like many people) came from watching anime. That being said, I haven’t seen any girls confessing to their crushes in school before and don’t think I ever will, so anime (unsurprisingly) wasn’t exactly an accurate or reliable source in my opinion. It did, however, introduce me to the difference between ‘giri choco’ and ‘honmei choco’ – something which I thought was quite peculiar but fascinating.

Crowds throng at major department stores that host Chocolate Fairs during this time of year. Source: Japan Today
"Making and receiving handmade chocolate is more significant here."

Point of Difference

Valentine’s Day as I knew it was more of a day for men to show their love for women, but it’s the other way round here in Japan! In fact, I was quite surprised by the concept of ‘White Day’ when I first heard about it. Another point of difference would probably be that while having fancy dinners seem to be the main part of Valentine’s Day in Singapore, making and receiving handmade chocolate is more significant here.

"My first impressions of Valentine’s Day celebrations in Japan (like many people) came from watching anime."

Chocolate everywhere!!! Okay, aside from that I also like how Valentine’s Day in Japan gives girls an opportunity to gather and bake together, so it can be really fun too!

Cakes n clicks

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