Japan Has A Rather Unique Way of Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means the world will be busy with date night reservations at restaurants, confectioneries will be running promotions on sweets and chocolates, and flower shops will be bustling with people buying big bouquets of the best blooms in town. While you’re in a daze planning how to spend this day with someone special, did you know that people in Japan are preparing for not just one but two Valentine’s Day! 

After being extra romantic on the 14th of February, Japan has a month to gear up for what they call “White Day.” You may think that white doesn’t even come close to the striking appeal of red, but there’s a history behind this celebration.



What is White Day?

White Day in Japan is basically a second Valentine’s Day and a response to the first one. Here lies the difference: During Valentine’s Day, women in Japan traditionally give gifts to men in their lives, including their partners, and White Day, which takes place on March 14, is men’s turn to show their appreciation to what they received from the women.

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On February 14, women in Japan will give sweets to their coworkers and acquaintances, and these are called giri-choco. Giri means obligation, and choco is chocolate. They also exchange gifts with their girlfriends, and these are called tomo-choco, from tomodachi meaning friend. And for their special someone, their gift is called honmei-choco; honmei means true feeling. These gifts could be cookies, chocolates, or any type of gift that the recipient would appreciate.

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This may sound like a lot of work for women. But come March 14, men will express their gratitude by giving gifts to their female friends and colleagues. These are usually candies, cookies, and chocolates. But for their romantic partner, men are expected to give something thrice more expensive than the one they received on February 14. This gift could be premium chocolates, jewelry, scarves, or handkerchiefs.



How did White Day begin in Japan? 

The National Confectionery Industry Association considered it as an “answer day” to Valentine’s Day. Many sources claim that the history of White Day can be traced to the opening of a small confectionery shop in the Hikata region called Ishimura Manseido in the 1970s. Zengo Ishimura, one of the company’s executives, read a woman’s comment about Valentine’s Day in a magazine. The comment states that it is not fair that only men get chocolate from women on Valentine’s Day. “Why don’t they give us something? A handkerchief, candy, even marshmallows…” she wrote.

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Ishimura decided to create a special day for men so they can return the favor. He concocted a new sweet made of marshmallow and chocolate. His female employees suggested that the celebration can be held on March 14, one month after Valentine’s Day.

The very first “White Day” was celebrated in 1978, but it was called “Marshmallow Day” at the time. The department store he Ishimura’s company partnered with changed it to “White Day” as a reference to the marshmallow. White Day became popular throughout Japan in the 1980s eventually included white chocolate and other tangibles as gifts. 



Other countries that adopted this new twist are Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and South Korea.



Don’t have any idea yet what to do on Valentine’s Day? Check out these great Valentine’s Day Getaway Ideas.



*Featured image from KPG Payless2 on Shutterstock