How Japanese Culture Celebrates Valentine’s Day and Why It’s Better!

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How Japanese Culture Celebrates Valentine’s Day and Why It’s Better! Link to
How Japanese Culture Celebrates Valentine’s Day and Why It’s Better!

When you talk to people about Valentine’s day, we always go on about the flowers and men in the relationship buying the gifts for their other half. And as I got older, I always thought it was a bit of a scam. I felt just spending one-day overspending on showing your love for someone was weird. Plus, the fact the women were never expected to do anything rubbed me the wrong way. So I disliked it for many years and never saw the point. Until I found out the way, the Japanese celebrate Valentine’s day.

Today I’ll explain how the Japanese celebrate Valentine’s day. And why it might be better than how the US and UK validate their love on the day.

A brief history of Valentine’s day in Japan

The day on which the Japanese celebrate is no different to anywhere in the world. It’s still on the 14th of February. And on this day the women and only the women give a present to the men. This is because back in the 1950’s it used to be taboo for women to confess their feelings. Then Valentine’s day came along, and the women started to confess their love to someone, known as ‘kokuhaku’ (which means confession.)

Because Valentine’s day came along and made it more acceptable for women to confess their feelings to a significant other, and changed the way, men and women interacted with each other.

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How the women celebrate

Unlike western culture, women have to give their significant other gifts on the day. Typically people choose chocolate because of how vast and different the chocolate market is in Japan. It’s that diverse that women can give Valentine’s Day gifts to their romantic partners and their bosses and friends.

When a woman gives chocolate to a boss or a friend (anyone they aren’t romantically interested in or connected to.) This chocolate is known as Giri-Choco, which means ‘Obligation Chocolate.’ And it is a symbol of gratitude that is felt by the gifter. It isn’t a sign of romance but thanks and is never done out of force.

There is a second type of chocolate called Honmei-Choco. This means ‘True- feelings’ chocolate. And is typically handmade and gift wrapped for the significant other or lover. However, these types of chocolates can also be bought, but they are costly.

However, I’m going on about the men in these women’s lives. On valentines day, women also get/gift chocolate to their female friends, so no one is left out. This type of chocolate is known as Tomo-Choco. Which means ‘friend chocolate.’ This part of the gift-giving process is new in Japanese valentines day culture but is growing in popularity!

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White day!

Now, as I said in the intro, I didn’t like how it was all on the men to buy gifts for valentines day in western culture. And in the Japanese one, it’s all on the women, and I can hear you go, ‘isn’t that a bit hypocritical?’

Well, because a month later, Japan celebrated White day. This is when the men/ the people who received gifts on Valentine’s day give a present to their significant other. So as you can see, the pleasure and pressure of gift-giving aren’t just held culturally on one person!

White day has been a part of Japanese culture since the 1930s. However, it did not reach cultural popularity till the seventies. So it’s been a popular celebration for thirty-five years. As the National Confectionery Industry Association created the day as an answer to Valentine’s day.

Reasons I prefer Japan’s Valentine’s day and white day celebration.

Now you are reading this and thinking, ‘Why don’t you like the way valentines day is celebrated now? Why do you think the Japanese way of celebrating it is better?’

And I think it’s better for two reasons.

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The first is that culturally, we usually make it the man’s responsibility to provide a gift, which is unfair. These two celebrations a month apart enable the burden of showing love equally on both people within the relationship. And doesn’t just make it be one person only.

The second reason is that the western way of celebrating is only done once throughout the year. And I think love and your significant other should be honoured whenever possible. Doing it twice doesn’t just make it a one-year thing. I mean, it isn’t an entire year celebration and is only one month apart. So it’s still a bit of a gimmick. But it’s less of a gimmick than the western version is.

Ultimately I can’t tell you how to celebrate Valentine’s day as it’s personal to you and your partner; however if the current way of celebrating your love for each other isn’t making you happy! Then maybe you could try the Japanese version of Valentine and White day!

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