Cultural Tips - Japan's Unique Valentine's Day
Japan has its very own way to celebrate Valentine's Day.
On February 14th, in Japan, women and girls give chocolate to men and boys, including husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, friends, and colleagues in workplaces, not to mention lovers.
In addition, there are two kinds of chocolate, 'honmei choco' (heartfelt chocolate) and 'giri choco'(obligatory chocolate).
'honmei choco' is chocolate that women or girls give to their favorite men or boys to express their feelings. They select elaborate, high-end chocolate with great care. Some make the chocolate themselves at home.
On the other hand, 'giri choco' is often given to the people who usually take care of them to convey their feelings of appreciation. Some people give these chocolates to tens of people, so they tend to choose chocolates at reasonable prices.
This unique custom originated from a sales promotion by a confectionery company in 1932. The slogan was "Let's give chocolate to loved ones on Valentine's Day!"
At first, it didn't necessarily mean that chocolate should be given from women to men, but it became increasingly popular once major department stores featured chocolate for Valentine's Day.
Shops began to market their chocolates more towards women by creating beautiful and elegant displays to draw customers in. This tactic led to the increase in sales by women.
On top of this, companies used advertising to promote the idea that traditionally modest Japanese women could express their true feelings by giving chocolate to men.
Recently, with increasing variety and cute, elaborate displays, buying chocolate has become more of a shopping experience as women spend more time looking at the displays than actually buying chocolate.