Valentine's Day & White Day in Japan

Valentine's Day & White Day in Japan

Mar 14, 2017 Tags 

What is Valentine's Day like in Japan?

Like other countries, it can be a romantic occasion.

Guys probably plan to give their girlfriends presents, right?

However, Japanese women traditionally take the initiative on Valentine’s Day!

Everyone from elementary school girls to career women bake or buy chocolate desserts for their boyfriends, friends, bosses, and colleagues. In the latter cases these aren’t romantic gestures but it’s a custom in Japan during this holiday time known as tomo-choco (friend chocolate) or giri-choco (obligation chocolate).

Homemade chocolates are more impressive.

Many shops are packed with DIY stuff like wrapping goodies, decoration chocolate pens, and baking kits.

making chocolate for Japanese valentine's day
Putting your heart and soul into it. And strawberries.

These days, Valentine's day customs have become more complicated (you could say it has gone a bit too far).

Here’s what happens on Valentine's Day in Japan.

1) At School:

The most beautiful looking chocolates get more attention. Pretty wrapping is also key. To be a Valentines’s boss in your class, you must bring the coolest chocolates!

Plus, you'll need massive amounts of chocolates to cover all of your friends. Giving chocolates to each other must be give-and-take. It became a huge annual social event.

(When I was in high school, I baked 120 madeleines for Valentine’s Day!!)

2) At work:

You need to buy some chocolates and distribute them to your boss, colleagues and maybe someone you secretly have a crush on. Sleek chocolates are a must.

Make sure everyone around you gets chocolates. You can use both expensive and cheap chocolates if you are on a budget.

Some interesting notes...

  • A few guys still cook treats for their friends and girlfriends on Valentine's Day.
  • Mean girl mania can happen at offices. A battle over who is going to give chocolates to the handsome guys happens. Usually, women with more experience at work win these battles.
  • There are companies that ban giving chocolates and encourage donating instead.

Some examples of preferable gifts from her to him according to the internet.

  • handmade knit scarf
  • letters
  • liquor

candy hearts
These aren't gonna cut it.


Girls work so hard for Valentine’s Day.

Boys don’t have to do anything??

White day comes on March 14th.

This is the day where men give women presents in return.

White Day in Japan
Wonder what he got me??? Image created by Freepik

Men are expected to return gifts that are worth at least two or three times more than the gifts he received on Valentine's Day. Some women give chocolates because they expect a more valuable return from men. Nice! The term sanbai-gaeshi is used to describe this rule. Not returning a gift is perceived as rude.

Some guys will go all out to impress a special person, but mostly they just feel the pressure to buy expensive chocolates. During the days leading up to White Day, every store you enter has a display encouraging you to buy expensive chocolate. It is cool to see all the unique designs and packaging companies come up with to make their chocolate appealing.

White Day in Japan
Is chocolate gonna be enough? Image created by Freepik

Some examples of common gifts on White Day...

  • Jewelry
  • Wine
  • Chocolates
  • Macarons

Yeah, looks like any of those are more expensive than Valentine’s Day gifts.

But you know, the most important thing is heart and how much you care about your special person. ;)

By: Aoi @ ZenPop


If you are interested in trying some Japanese treats for yourself (or you want to get some for someone special in your life) check out our ZenPop Sweets Pack and get some authentic Japanese candy delivered right from the source. Check out our Sweets Pack now!


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