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Valentine's Day In Japan - How To Celebrate It Like The Locals

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February is the month of love and chocolate. A month of all things beautiful and pink. Valentine's Day is around the corner. Curious about how it is celebrated in Japan? Find out in this article.

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February 14th is the day of love all over the world. Gifts are exchanged and love is celebrated. But if you happen to be in Japan, you might realize its Valentine’s Day concept and celebration is like no other. Chocolate is the main gift given on Valentine’s Day here as well but in a much different manner.

Let us discover how the Japanese celebrate Valentine's Day.

The History of Valentine’s Day in Japan

Japanese Valentine's Day – Celebrate it the Conventional Way

Valentine’s Day in Japan dates back to the 1950s and represents the changes that have occurred in Japanese cultural norms. Back then, female ‘kokuhaku’ or the act of confessing one's feelings was considered taboo. Kokuhaku literally means confession. It is done when a man or a woman declare their love to another and hope to begin dating that person. The most basic way of confessing this is to say:

Suki desu. Tsukiatte kudasai – I like you. Can we start seeing each other?

Valentine’s Day got popular in Japan because it established a day when it was acceptable for women to take a risk and confess their feelings. Women started expressing their feelings openly without getting judged. This day was a welcome change in the way men and women interacted in Japan.

How Valentine's Day is Celebrated in Japan

Japanese Valentine's Day – Celebrate it the Conventional Way

The first thing you need to know about celebrating Valentine’s Day in Japan is that, contrary to Western traditions, it is customary for the women to give gifts to men. Chocolates are the best means to confess one's feelings towards another. Japan’s unique and vast chocolate market spoils you for options. Everywhere a wide variety of chocolates with different flavors, designs, and shapes help you to convey your feelings in the best possible way.

This gift is not only given to romantic partners but to other men like friends and colleagues as well. In fact, there are several types of chocolate-giving on Valentine’s Day. Let us have a look.

Types of Chocolate Giving in Japan


Japanese Valentine's Day – Celebrate it the Conventional Way

This term means "obligation chocolate". This gift is given to friends, bosses, family members, work colleagues or other men whom the giver isn’t romantically involved with. Giri is an obligation for sure, but it is also close to a debt of gratitude one feels towards these men. Simply put, it's the pursuit of the other person’s happiness. Receiving giri-choco from a girl or woman in your life won’t be a statement of romance, but it also shouldn’t be thought of as a forced habit.


Japanese Valentine's Day – Celebrate it the Conventional Way

Honmei-choco means "true feelings chocolate" in Japanese. Honmei chocolate is reserved for a boyfriend, husband or lover - that special someone in your life that you want to shower with affection in the form of chocolate, cookies or other sweet treats.

To separate the gift of honmei from giri, many women in Japan choose to make the chocolate themselves. By handcrafting their gift, they hope to demonstrate how valuable this person is in their life. This is the kind of chocolate you give to your lover. If you like someone, you can present them chocolate and confess with it on Valentine’s Day. If you decide to buy this chocolate, it's usually high-quality and expensive.


Japanese Valentine's Day – Celebrate it the Conventional Way

Tomo-choco is "friend chocolate" and is given by women to female friends on Valentine’s Day, so no one is left out! Tomo-choco is usually quite expensive and decorative. Typically, Japanese ladies will not only gift their friends Tomo-choco, but get together and eat it at the same time.

It’s a time for girls to get together and enjoy their own special Valentine’s Day moment. Tomo-choco is a recent addition to the Japanese Valentine’s Day collection in Japan.

Learn Japanese Phrases this Valentine’s Day

Curious what the Japanese say to each other on this day? Here are few phrases to impress your loved one in Japanese.

Ai shiteru – I love you.

Anata ga daisuki desu - I like you very much.

Anata mo daisuki desu – I like you too.

Anata ga koishii desu – I miss you.

Aitai desu – I want to meet you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Get out there and take the initiative to confess your love with a box full of lovely chocolates. Make this day special for everyone around you. If you are single you can still have fun. You can make chocolates for your friends and enjoy receiving chocolates from your female friends. Happy Valentine's Day!

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