What Does “Valentine’s Day” Imply In Japan?


Ah, it’s that point of yr once more the place love is within the air—in addition to the odor of a sure celebratory candy. Though not a standard Japanese occasion, Valentine’s Day customs have develop into virtually as acknowledged and revered as lots of the different holidays within the calendar yr. So what’s all of it about and what makes it completely different in Japan?


Scrumptious historical past

As is the case with vacation fervor, it began as a advertising initiative. In accordance with the story, a Russian named Fyodor Morozoff fled to Kobe, Japan to flee the Bolshevik Revolution occurring in his residence nation. and as soon as in Kobe, he opened a confectionery store within the early Nineteen Thirties. He named it Cosmopolitan Confectionary and its darkish delectable sweet was an immediate hit.

Upon listening to from an American buddy that goodies had been being given as presents on Valentine’s Day, Morozoff determined to attempt his hand as effectively. In 1935, Morozoff printed the primary commercials in an English-speaking newspaper the day earlier than Valentine’s Day and it labored. Morozoff’s goodies not solely survived World Struggle 2, however has since rendered February synonymous with chocolate and presents.


“From lady to man”

All through the Showa Period within the Fifties, Valentine’s Day grew in steam with commercials popping up in Tokyo, however essentially the most divergent shift was when the Shinjuku-based Merry Chocolate Firm coined the Valentine’s phrase “From Girl To Man”, a persuasive try and get the vast majority of their feminine buyers to buy chocolate as presents for his or her companions.

Furthermore, it was a time of liberation amongst Japanese girls who had been urged to advertise romance and love inside their relationships. The slogan sunk in deep and chocolate started to fly off the cabinets and right into a slew of undoubtedly stunned—albeit grateful—husband’s mouths.


Decisions of chocolate

Japan holds the monopoly on many unique traditions that exist solely inside its nationwide boundaries, and the identical holds true for Valentine’s Day. Inside a lot of the Western world, Valentine’s Day mainly exists as a vacation to precise love for each respective companions, however in Japan, it’s solely the feminine’s position to offer sweet for not simply their mate, however most males of their lives. And boy, are there lots of choices:

Giri Choko (義理チョコ)

By far essentially the most arduous, Giri Chocolate interprets to “obligation chocolate” in Japanese, meant for the entire plutonic males in a girl’s life, together with co-workers, senpai and executives. Zero love right here.

Honmei Choco (本命チョコ)

This is the present purchased by girls for true lovers. In Japanese, it interprets to “actual” chocolate.

Jibun Choco (自分チョコ)

Each lady deserves a deal with, however particularly across the holidays. That is chocolate purchased and loved for pure private use.

Household Chocolate (ファミチョコ)

A much less annoying collection of presents purchased for the male members of the family in a girl’s life: grandfathers, fathers, sons and brothers.

Gyaku Choco (逆チョコ)

A progressive flip, Gyaku means “reverse” in Japanese and it’s a refreshing break at Valentine’s Day for a girl. On this state of affairs, the person purchases chocolate for his lady-friend, a lot according to the opposite aspect of the world.

Tomo Choco (友チョコ)

Maybe essentially the most plutonic and carefree, this chocolate is just a present to a woman’s gal-pal as an emblem of thanks for friendship.


Love hurts

As a result of sheer quantity of chocolate girls are anticipated to buy and distribute among the many folks of their lives, there was a motion to put off giri choco. What then would this do to custom? Worst case state of affairs, chocolate outlets would lose lots of enterprise, whereas a best-case state of affairs would permit girls to buy chocolate freely for whomever they deem worthy of these most mouth-watering treats.

To this author, Valentine’s Day has all the time appeared like a gimmick geared toward those that want just a bit extra love of their lives, however maybe there’s extra to this vacation than a easy store-front advert. It’s a chosen time to precise your emotions for those you care about. Chocolate is a delicacy—typically expensive. Traditions are traditions, that’s true, however possibly it’s time for ladies to begin having fun with Valentine’s Day as a substitute of dreading it.

Josh Furr

Joshua first got here to Japan along with his household over 10 years in the past and it fully ruined his life (in one of the best of how). When he’s not attempting to move the JLPT, he’s researching Japanese historical past, having fun with 80s J-Pop and dreaming of 牛丼. He’s presently writing, writing, writing…principally about Japan and video video games.



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