Valentine's Day, Japan

Valentine's Day, Japan

Valentine's Day, Japan


Celebration Date
14th February
Other Name
Holiday Type
Not National Holiday


In Japan Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a very unique style. It is the women who present gifts to men. 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.  


History of Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day became popular in Japan in the 1950's, due in part to a few notable business campaigns, particularly, a confectionary that began selling heart-shaped chocolates during the season, and a large department store that ran a “Valentine's Sale,” an idea that was followed by other department stores, and continues to this day.

Valentine’s Day in Japan dates back to the 1950's, and represents the changes that have occurred in Japanese cultural norms. Back then (and sometimes even now) female ‘kokuhaku’, or the act of confessing feelings, was considered radical and taboo. By establishing a day when it was acceptable for women to take a risk and confess their feelings in Japan, chocolate makers and gift sellers not only found a great marketing opportunity, they also helped change the way men and women interacted in Japan 


Gifts for the boys

he first thing you need to know about celebrating Valentine’s Day in Japan is that, contrary to Western traditions, it’s customary for women to give gifts to men. It’s not until the 14th of March White Day that men are expected to return the favour and then some. Usually, this gift for men comes in the form of chocolate or cookies, though they aren’t just given to romantic partners. In fact, there are several types of chocolate-giving on Valentine’s Day.



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