Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Japan? Here’s what you need to know!

Jan 18, 2021

Valentine’s Day, which falls on February 14, is known as the day when one expresses their love to that one special person.

It’s a special day and for some it’s a day to look forward, and for some others it’s a day to dread.

In Western countries, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by couples and singles; usually by exchanging gifts or by having a fancy night out. However, in Japan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated differently.

Although Valentine’s Day is not celebrated by everyone in Japan, it’s still a big deal and heavily commercialized here.

This is especially true amongst middle school and high school female students; they give chocolate to their friends and their crush or boyfriend.

In addition to the youngsters, chocolates are also given out amongst couples and co-workers in offices.

The act of giving on Valentine’s Day in Japan is different than in Western countries, and for most of the time there is a pressure to hand out chocolates or to receive chocolates felt.

Valentine’s Day in Japan has its own set of traditions, expectations, and cultural norms. That’s why the festivities are not the same compared to other countries that celebrate it.

In Japan, women give chocolate and candy to men as opposed to flowers, jewelry, or other gifts like that.

However, not all chocolates are given for the same purpose, and today we introduce different types of chocolates given on Valentine’s Day.

Honmei Choco

A chocolate given to someone who you have romantic feelings for! Usually more expensive that the other chocolates available, usually you give this to your crush, your boyfriend, or your husband!

Giri Choco

Giri means “obligation” in Japanese and you give giri chocolate to colleagues, acquaintances, or anyone you have no romantic attachment to. Usually Japanese people give this chocolate to everyone in work places, including females.

Tomo Choco

Tomo means “friend” in Japanese and you give tomo choco to your close friends.

Usually it’s a exchange and handmade. You can give tomo choco to your friends to show your gratitude, especially to someone you love, admire, and care about.

Gyaku Choco

Gyaku means “reversed” in Japanese and Gyaku Choco is a moment when some men give chocolates to women. It became a trend recently and not very common in Japan.

Jibun Choco

Jibun, means “self” in Japanese and Jibun Choco is a moment when you buy chocolate for yourself.

Usually Jibun Choco is the most expensive amongst all.

So, how will you spend your Valentine’s Day?

If you’re in Japan, don’t forget to stop by a department store just to check out the amazing packaging of the chocolates!