Written by Hilary Keyes
Valentine's Day In Japan - What To Do?
If you are celebrating Valentine's Day in Japan, then you are in luck! Not only are there many great events to see, but there are also some fun things you can pick up to make your very own Valentine's treats.
Valentine's Day, a time for romance, love, and most importantly chocolate! In Japan, Valentine's Day is celebrated somewhat differently than it is overseas. On February 14th, women present handmade sweets or chocolates to the person they have their eye on, while the men don't typically do anything in return until March 14th, which is known as White Day.
If you happen to be traveling in Japan during this romantic time, there are plenty of things you can do to celebrate. There are many great events to take part in and illuminations to see all around the city, so heading out for dinner and a night on the town is a fantastic option. If you'd like to know more about these events and lights, please take a look at Valentine's Day In Japan - Special Events And Romantic Places To Visit.
One spot that I would personally like to recommend is the Love Statue, located in Nishi-Shinjuku. Made by the American artist Robert Indiana, this towering public art installation has its own legend. It’s rumored that, if you can pass between the ‘v’ and ‘e’ without touching the sides while thinking about your crush, your love will be returned.
Great Souvenirs - Gag Chocolates
Chocolate 'energy pills' and a gummy and chocolate hamburger.
If you want to pick up something funny, cute, or really unusual as a souvenir, then I recommend gag chocolates. They come in all varieties, from pill and band-aid shaped chocolates to nougat-filled hammers to life-like gorillas and dinosaurs. There are hundreds of options to choose from ranging in price from a few yen to thousands of yen. Why not take a look around and see what catches your eye?
Made with Love - Valentine's Treats
If you don't have the time to take part in any Valentine's events, you can still take part in the atmosphere of the Japanese take on the holiday by visiting a 100 yen shop like Daiso, or a variety goods store like Tokyu Hands, Loft, or Don Quijote. Here you can find everything you need to make your very own Valentine's treats!
Moulds and Cookie Cutters
To make your own homemade chocolates, you will need a mould to put your melted chocolate and any fillings in. These silicon moulds come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles, and range in price from 100 to 1200 yen, depending on the type you select. The rose cups on the right are also perfect for making mini cakes or brownies in too.
Steel cookie cutters are not only good for making fun cookies, but also for cutting out fondant icing for cakes, and even for making mini pancakes with. As you can see, they come in a great number of shapes and styles, and tend to cost from 200 to 800 yen. If you want to find the largest cookie cutter selection in Japan though, I recommend shopping in Kappabashi, where you can find kitchen supply stores that have baking sections with cookie cutters as far as the eye can see.
Cute Carrying Bags
After your treats are made, you're going to need something to carry them in. If you're making a lot of things to make for many people, then purchasing some little food bags is a good idea. These bags come with stickers and ties to seal them and are 100% food safe, so you don't have to worry about anything contaminating your treats. You can easily pick some up at any 100 yen store, or at a variety store, and they typically cost from 100-350 yen for 10 bags. You can also find cellophane types, and much larger ones for full size cakes as well.
Icing and Decorations
Once you've finished making your treat, it's time to decorate it! It may be shocking to see just how many different decorations there are in stores at this time of year; everything from pre-made fondant characters like Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma to intricate icing roses to glittery sparkles and edible pearls are available. There are also pre-packed tubes of colored icing so that you can easily write your greetings or draw on your baked goods as well. Not only that, but there are even containers of chopped nuts, candied fruits and fruit peel, bottles of flavored liquors, and much more that you can add to your treats.
If you're like me, you might walk into the store with one idea of what you want to make in mind, and walk out with something completely different.The variety of items is a treat for the eyes in itself!
Sets For Non-Chefs
Not everyone is comfortable in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking, but Japanese stores have you covered. In any variety store or supermarket, you can find a wide range of pre-measured and packaged baking kits, many of which only need an egg or water to complete. Picture-stamped chocolates, heart shaped muffins, marbled brownies, cake lollipops - all are available and many come with picture based instructions so that even those not confident in their Japanese abilities can follow along. All you need with a kit like these are some decorations and packages to put the finished product in. Kits can range from 500-4500 yen, with the more expensive sets making anywhere from 15-50 portions of the food.
A Recipe to Help You Along
Baking something for a loved one and decorating it yourself sounds like fun, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, baking is not my forte, so if I need to make a lot of treats in a hurry, I go to my old favorite: brownies.
Pick up a box of brownie mix and prepare the recipe as per the instructions on the package. Then it's time to get creative.
1. Pour about half the mix into the bottom of your baking pan or mold.
2. Add in a layer of either: chopped nuts, toasted shredded coconut, minced cherries, marmalade, mini marshmallows or marshmallow fluff, chopped chocolate or chocolate candies or chips, or any combination you can think of.
3. Carefully pour the remainder of the brownie mix over this layer, and smooth out the top with a spatula or knife.
4. Bake according to the instructions on the package and when they are ready, remove them from the oven and let them stand on the counter until cool to the touch.
5. Slice the brownies and package them to hand out.
And there you have it! You can easily make great unique treats for your friends, family or that special someone, especially if you have the right materials for the job. A trip to any 100 yen store, variety goods shop or supermarket will have you preparing adorable Valentine's Day treats in no time.