Chocolate gift giving culture in Japan

As the world prepares to observe one of the most loved up days of the year, we wanted to share some tidbits about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Japan.

Valentine’s Day

In Japan, chocolate is given exclusively by girls to boys on Valentine’s Day. ‘Honmei choco’ is chocolate that is given by women to men for whom they are romantically linked or have feelings for. In effect, this is usually given to husbands, boyfriends or prospective boyfriends. It is also quite common for women to make their chocolate gifts at home.

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White Day

White Day, celebrated on March 14, is a day when men who received ‘Honmei choco’ on Valentine’s Day are expected to return the favour by giving gifts of their own. White Day is celebrated in Japan, South Korea and China. In Japanese, the term ‘sanbai gaeshi’ is used to imply that men that return the favour on White Day should give a gift worth two or three times the value of what they received on Valentine’s Day. Popular White Day gifts include: white chocolate, jewellery, white lingerie and marshmallows.

Although White Day is viewed as a day to reciprocate, it is common for men who received ‘Giri choco’ to give their female counterparts white chocolate as a form of social obligation or pleasantry.

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Giri Choco

‘Giri choco’ is chocolate given by women to men on Valentines Day in Japan. It is usually inexpensive and in most cases tends to be of a lower quality than ‘Honmei choco.’ ‘Giri choco’ is given to male colleagues, friends and other acquaintances with whom the woman has no romantic interest.

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Let us know how you’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year and if you’ll also celebrate White Day, in the comments below.