The Ultimate Guide To Valentine’s Day (And White Day) In Japan (2024)

Oh Valentine’s Day. What comes to your mind when you think about Valentine’s Day? Do you think about chocolate? Roses? A fancy candle-lit dinner? While these may be aspects of Valentine’s Day for many lucky people out there, Valentine’s Day is celebrated and recognized differently around the world.

Have you ever wondered what Valentine’s Day in Japan is like? In this article, we’re going to give you the lowdown on Valentine’s Day in Japan and how it’s celebrated. We’ll also introduce ‘White Day’ which accompanies Valentine’s Day.

What Is Valentine’s Day In Japan?

The Ultimate Guide To Valentine’s Day (And White Day) In Japan (1)

Valentine’s Day in Japan, while thought of as quite a romantic day similar to other countries, might not be celebrated exactly how you think. While yes, chocolate is definitely involved in Valentine’s Day in Japan (thankfully), the emphasis is more on women gifting chocolate to men.

Yes, that’s right, as opposed to in the West where women are often gifted chocolates, flowers, and even extravagant gifts sometimes for Valentine’s Day, in Japan, women give chocolates to men. These men could be their romantic partners, their coworkers, their bosses, or even just their platonic friends. Valentine’s Day has become especially popular among students in middle and high school, as they can use this opportunity to confess to their crush.

The point is that men get chocolates for Valentine’s Day. (Well, female friends can also receive chocolate, but the point is that on Valentine’s Day in Japan, women gift chocolate.)

Japanese Valentine’s Day History

Valentine’s Day is believed to have become popularized in Japan around the 1950s, but really confectionary shops have been holding chocolate campaigns since the 1930s. Originally, these chocolate campaigns were targeted towards foreign residents in Japan but eventually became more popular with Japanese women. These campaigns were marketed mainly towards women, especially those who were in relationships or married. And thus, that’s why the concept of giving chocolates to men became a thing for Valentine’s Day in Japan.

Different Types Of Chocolate For Valentine’s Day

The Ultimate Guide To Valentine’s Day (And White Day) In Japan (2)

In Japan, there are different ‘levels’ of chocolate giving when it comes to Valentine’s Day. We’ll outline each type below.

Honmei Choco

Honmei Choco which translates to “favorite chocolate” is exclusively given to significant others or someone that a woman is interested in. These chocolates are often handmade (nama choco is a popular kind of chocolate to make), but sometimes women opt to buy nice chocolate from department stores too. Obviously since women are giving this type of chocolate to their significant other or crush, they want to make it as special as possible.

Giri giri Choco

Giri giri Choco roughly translates to “obligation chocolate” meaning that this category of chocolate is usually given to coworkers, superiors, male friends, and even family members. Nicely packaged store-bought chocolate is the go-to for giri giri choco.

Tomo Choco

Tomo choco or “friend chocolate” is exactly what its name implies. Chocolate given between friends. Women gift tomo choco to both their male and female friends.

Gyaku Choco

Gyaku choco which means “reverse chocolate” is chocolate given from a man to a woman. Shocking! However, this is thought to be uncommon in Japan.

Jibun Choco

Jibun choco means “chocolate for yourself” which is yes, chocolate that you buy or make for yourself. Because everyone deserves to eat chocolate on Valentine’s Day.

White Day

The Ultimate Guide To Valentine’s Day (And White Day) In Japan (3)

So men can’t be the only people to receive chocolates for Valentine’s Day right?! That certainly would be a catastrophe. Yes, there is indeed a day dedicated to returning the favor of Valentine’s Day chocolate, and that day is called White Day.

White Day happens exactly one month after Valentine’s Day on March 14th, and is basically a reply day for Valentine’s Day. Men/people who received chocolate on Valentine’s Day are expected to return the favor by gifting chocolate to women/Valentine’s Day chocolate givers.

White Day was not really a thing in Japan until the 1980s, and the color white is thought to be associated with purity, especially when it comes to innocent teenage love in Japanese culture.

One interesting fact about White Day is that men are expected to give chocolates that are roughly twice or three times the value of what they received on Valentine’s Day. Not returning the favor by gifting chocolate on White Day is considered very rude, and can even be perceived as breaking off the relationship (if the chocolate was honmei choco or gifted romantically).

Buying Japanese Chocolate

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Even if you can’t make it to Japan in time to try all the Japanese chocolate goodies, don’t give up hope! You can find all of the best Japanese chocolates right here and have them shipped straight to your door from Japan.

What do you think about Valentine’s Day in Japan? How does it differ from Valentine’s Day in your country? We’d love to know in the comments below.

The Ultimate Guide To Valentine’s Day (And White Day) In Japan (2024)


What is the White Day in Japan Valentine's Day? ›

White Day is celebrated annually on March 14, one month after Valentine's Day, when people give reciprocal gifts to those who gave them gifts on Valentine's Day. It began in Japan in 1978; its observance has spread to several other East Asian nations like China, Taiwan, South Korea and countries worldwide.

What is the Japanese tradition during Valentine's Day? ›

The Essence of Valentine's Day in Japan

The tradition of women giving chocolates to men, known as 'honmei choco' for loved ones and 'tomo choco' for friends, is a central aspect of this celebration.

What does candy mean on White Day Japan? ›

In Japan, where it's believed to have originated, White Day is meant to be a day for lovers (typically men) to give gifts (typically chocolates or sweets) to their partners (typically women) who previously gave them gifts on Valentine's Day, as a gesture of reciprocation.

What is the rule for White Day? ›

But Japan also has a “White Date” which takes place on March 14th, exactly one month after Valentine's Day. The exact opposite of Valentine's Day, on White Day those who received gifts are supposed to give return gifts to those who gifted them chocolates on Valentine's Day.

What do females do in Japan on Valentine's Day What is White Day What happens? ›

While Valentines Day in Japan involves women giving chocolates to men, White Day is when men have to return the favor. However, the secret meanings behind these sweets are entirely different! Read on to learn more about the significance of gift-giving on White Day!

What is the difference between Valentine's Day and White Day in Japan? ›

On Valentine's Day in Japan, women give chocolates to the men in their lives. A month later, on White Day, all the men who received presents must return the favour. But these heavily marketed gender-specific holidays might be seeing a decline in popularity, amid broader changes in Japanese society.

Why is feb 23 holiday in Japan? ›

Emperor Naruhito was born on February 23 1960; this is celebrated as an annual public holiday in Japan. Many citizens write letters to the emperor during the week leading up to his birthday. On the emperor's birthday, a public ceremony takes place at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, where the gates are opened.

Who started Valentine's Day in Japan? ›

Valentine's Day concept is believed to have been brought to Japan for commercial purposes by the retail and confectionery industry in the 1950s after World War Ⅱ. The question is, why did Valentine's Day become a day that women choose to confess their love to men?

Why do Japanese give chocolate on Valentine's Day? ›

Harumichi Yamada from Tokyo Keizai University stated that the practice of giving chocolate occurred because women expressing their love to men was considered disgraceful, and confectioneries capitalized on chocolate as a way for them to profess their love; however, as the social status of women improved, Valentine's ...

Is White Day for girls? ›

It turns out that White Day began in 1978 as a marketing strategy from a Japanese confectionery owner. Initially known as Marshmallow Day, it gradually became White Day, a time when men who received Valentine's gifts return the favor to women.

What to get a girl for White Day? ›

As the name implies, White Day gifts are often white — but they don't necessarily have to be. Flowers, chocolate, and candy are all fairly common gifts, while jewellery, accessories, and other such items also don't go amiss.

Is white lucky in Japan? ›

Red is also believed to bring good luck in Japan, especially when paired with white. White is the color of divine purity, which is why it is commonly found in Shinto shrines, especially in the famous white sand or pebble gardens.

What is the meaning of white Valentine's day? ›

White Valentine's Day, also known as White Day, originated in Japan. Girls give chocolates to boys, especially homemade chocolates, to express their feelings. A month later, on March 14, boys will give back gifts (usually white chocolate) as a response to girls.

Why don't Americans celebrate White Day? ›

In America and Europe, people do not celebrate “White Day”. In these regions “Valentine's Day” is celebrated differently and males and females exchange presents and cards respectively. As a result, there is no need to have a separate holiday (“White Day”) for men to give women return presents.

How do you say happy White Day in Japan? ›

Happi- barentain, ハッピーバレンタイン (happy Valentine's Day) & Happi- howaito de-, ハッピーホワイトデー (happy White Day) As you may already be able to tell, these phrases are directly adapted from English.

What does white mean on Valentines Day? ›

On a lighter note, white roses are common during Valentine's Day. Giving your partner these snow-colored florals shows your love is pure, and since it's a popular choice for Western weddings, it's become a religious interpretation of eternal love, too.

What does white mean in Valentine? ›

Valentine's day orange dress means that the person is happy and contented in love. White means the person is already in love / engaged and is enjoying the essence of love but still wants to keep his/her love status private. Yellow is the color of the sun and moon - beautiful yet sad and melancholic.

What holiday is feb 14 in Japan? ›

Japan Dev Team

White Day is also a celebration of love. However, the concept is a little different, as it's meant to serve as a way to honor those who buy gifts on February 14 to their significant others.

Is it Valentine's Day or White Day? ›

Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14th, and White Day is celebrated on March 14th, a whole month after the day of love. In Asian countries, Valentine's Day is known as the day of confession of love, and White Day is meant as the day of answering those confessions via giving back gifts.

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