13 Feb 2016

Valentine’s Day In Japan: It's the Guys Who Get the Love & Chocolate


Keiko Takae knows her boyfriend won't give her anything for Valentine’s Day this year. No chocolate, no flowers, no romantic dinner. And that’s fine with her.

After all, in Japan, it’s women who do the gift giving on Valentine’s Day. Men reciprocate – or not – a month later (March 14) on White Day, when they may return the show of affection.

Valentine’s Day chocolate, however, is not limited to just husbands, boyfriends or that cute guy down the hall. Friends, family and office workers are on the list, as well.

Takae spent a free afternoon this week picking out chocolate for a half-dozen co-workers, as well as for her boyfriend and herself. Altogether, she spent $150 during a visit to the Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo’s tony Nihonbashi district.  The store had set up booths and pavilions for about 100 high-end chocolate makers as part of an annual promotion.

“I enjoy Valentine’s Day. It’s fun to go shopping and see all the different kinds of chocolate and pick out just the right thing for everyone,” said Takae, 44, a school administrator.

Valentine’s Day is big business in Japan. Advertisements and displays begin appearing in early January, not long after Christmas decorations have come down.

The Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan estimates $500 million is spent annually on chocolate for Valentine's Day, which is less than a third of what Americans spend on candy for Feb. 14. Japanese spend another $500 million on chocolate for White Day.

Hotels and restaurants here offer Valentine’s getaways and specials and the Keikyu train line offered a commuter car with heart designs and special seats.

There are several theories as to how the Valentine’s Day tradition got started in Japan, although most trace the custom to 1936, when a confectioner in the city of Kobe placed an ad in an English-language newspaper to suggest chocolate as a Valentine’s gift. In the 1950s, the Japan-based Mary Chocolate company introduced heart-shaped chocolates.

It’s no surprise that in Japan, where gift giving is an ingrained and highly nuanced part of the culture, there are several types of Valentine’s chocolate offerings.

Giri-choco is “obligatory chocolate” you give colleagues to smooth the day-to-day office routine. Honmei-choco is “the real thing,” what you give a romantic interest. Jibun choco is what you give yourself just because you deserve it.

“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,” according to Japan National Tourism Organization.

Takae said she’s not ready to go as far as making chocolate herself. Instead she spent $50 on several boxes of carefully chosen chocolate for her boyfriend. She said she’s looking forward to White Day, when she’s certain — well, pretty certain — that he’ll get her something just as nice in return.

“I’m sure he’ll get me candy, chocolate or some kind of sweets,” she said.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disclaimer: Comments on this blog are the thoughts and uninfluenced opinions of blog readers. And any content appearing under ‘Gossips’ section is purely gossip and Alabamauncut.com does not comply with the same.