How is Japanese Valentines Day Celebrated?

The Japanese love to do things a little differently to the rest of the world and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Japanese Valentines Day is celebrated over two dates, February 14th and exactly one month later on March 14th. Why over two days? Well February 14th is dedicated to women gifting men close to them including male partners, friends or colleagues. In March it’s the men’s turn to give the gifts to the women who gifted them the month earlier.

In the grand scheme of things, this tradition is fantastic for men because let’s be honest, men often ‘forget’ about Valentine’s Day. This way the men are given a one month warning and know exactly who to buy for. On the other hand, women have to make the first move! Although we are living in a very equal society and gender isn’t as important, it can be quite a scary thought to put your feelings out there but it seems to work in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Chine so maybe it would work on this side of the globe as well.

japanese valentines day

White Day

March 14th is more commonly known as White Day, the men’s Valentines Day. White Day was first celebrated in 1978 and was started by the National Confectionary Industry Association as an ‘answer day’ to Valentine’s Day.

The gift of choice was initially marshmallows as a confectionary company saw an opportunity to make a profit from this celebrated day and started a marketing campaign leading to the brief renaming on the day to Marshmallow Day however it’s really only known as White Day now. Because it’s White Day, men tend to purchase white chocolate for the women in their lives. If you travel to Japan during early March, you’ll notice that many confectionary companies target men with their white chocolate products.

As well as white chocolate, men buy white lingerie, flowers, perfume, candles and other gifts for their loved ones. However if the woman gave the man a giri-choco then she should expect the same in return as this is considered a non-romantic gesture. When gifting your significant partner on White Day, if you were to spend the same amount on a present then it can be seen as you ending the relationship so if you want your relationship to progress then the men will have to fork out a little bit more on a present.

japanese valentines day

Gift Giving

Valentine’s Day is widely popular around the entire world and we often find ourselves overspending on gifts for our partners. Especially in the U.S and the United Kingdom we tend to buy possessions for our other halves including perfume, games consoles and jewellery however the main gift given during Japanese Valentines Day is chocolate. However different chocolate has different connotations so its important that you buy the right one as you don’t want to give anybody the wrong idea! For Valentines Day, there are two types of chocolate to choose from: giri-choco and honmei-choco.

Giri-choco is given to those who you don’t have a romantic associations such as colleagues and male friends. Whereas over on this side of the world, Valentine’s Day is specifically for your partner and you, in Japan it is seen as polite to gift all men close to you. Men which don’t receive any chocolate are usually quite embarrassed so try not to forget anyone! Honmei translates to ‘prospective winner’ in English, honmei-choco is for the boyfriends, husbands and lovers, the ones who have won your heart. Honmei-choco tends to be homemade to signify true love so if you are giving chocolate to your other half, you may want to brush up on your baking skills.

japanese valentines day

Throughout Valentine’s Day and White Day, couples often spend quality time together such as going out for a meal or going to the cinema. There are also small festivals which are celebrated throughout Japan however these are most popular with the younger generation.

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