Japan Saint-Valentines day

I remember on day I was teaching in a Japanese Jr High school. The main teacher came up to me and told me; ”Yugo here’s today lesson plan”. Has I always do, I checked the lesson plan. Then I saw something that was not commune for me. In one of the sentence in the lesson I could read: St Valentines is a holiday which girls give chocolate to boys.  Since we were already in the classroom I did not want to tell the main teacher about the mistake. I would have being impolite for me to do so in front of the students, plus the mistake was not an orthographic error but simply the roles of the boy and girl who were inverted. Ultimately the lesson came to an end. After the lesson I went to see the main teacher and told him what I noticed. He started to laugh, I wasn’t really understanding  until he told me: Yugo in Japan girls give chocolate to boys on that day! Walking to my other class I did not really think about it. I was more thinking that he made a mistake.  Because lets just say sometimes , Jr high Japanese teachers are not really good in English. At home that night I made some research, he was right!

In Japan every person gets his day, boys get gifts on valentine’s day and girls get gifts on the White day which is March 14.

Saint-Valentines day

There is a strong tradition of women gifting chocolates to men on Valentines Day in Japan. Types of chocolates are more popular for Valentine’s Day. One type of chocolate called giri-choco. They are bought for friends, bosses, colleagues and close male friends. ‘Giri’ in Japan means obligation hence these types of chocolates has no romantic association. Giri chocolates are mostly bought from the store. Ladies make sure they pass on giri-choco to please all men close to them as it is seen that men who do not receive any chocolate feel embarrassed.
Chocolates for boyfriends, lovers or husbands are special ones and are called hon-mei. Many Japanese girls think that it is not true love if they buy Valentine’s day chocolates for their boyfriend and hence honmei -choco is usually prepared by girls themselves. Men feel lucky if they receive honmei (prospective winner)-choco on Valentine’s Day.
As chocolate is the most popular gift for the occasion, days before the festival department and grocery stores stock themselves with chocolates in large variety to lure customers. It is estimated that more than half the chocolate sold in a year is sold around Valentines Day in Japan.

White Day

On March 14 or men are supposed to give return gifts of chocolates to women who gifted them chocolates on February 14. The color of the chocolate is generally white because of the name of the day. These days, men also gift flowers, candies and other gifts along with the chocolates. For me personally the white day is less impotent in general and I’m not really into it. White Day is said to have been started as a marketing tool chocolate company.

Valentine’s Day and White Day are celebrated with charm and enthusiasm. Those festivals are more popular among young group especially those below 20 years. Most popular Valentine’s Day gift is chocolates though women also give other gifts like neckties and clothes to men dear to them.



  1. Wow I would ove not imagine that! I would like to say your blog is full of good info and the blog format is so sweet! Keep it up please.

  2. Yeah! I read about that too and was “intrigued”, so to speak, of the ‘gender-switch’. That Japanese teacher sounds nice. 🙂
    I really enjoy your blog, by the way. Very insightful of a ‘gaijin’s life’. 😀
    Keep updating!

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