Around the world, people use chocolate treats to express sweet nothings on Valentine’s Day.But in Japan, it’s a little more complicated. On Valentine’s Day, only women give chocolate, and not just to their partners, but to their male colleagues too.
There is a strong tradition of women giving chocolates to men on Valentines Day. There are two types of chocolates, “Giri-choco” (obligation chocolate), and “Honmei-choco”. Giri-choco is meant to be for friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends. “Giri” means obligation hence this Giri-choco has no romance involved. On the other hand, Honmei-choco is given to a boyfriend, lover, or husband with true love. 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. You will start seeing large displays of chocolate, often heart-shaped in department stores and grocery stores from mid-January. Days before the Valentine’s Day, stores get packed with a large variety of chocolates, the cooking tools, and women!
Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is only step one in a two-stage game in Japan. Men are expected to reciprocate the gift-giving a month later on March 14th, on a day known as ‘White Day’.