Valentine’s Day is an important day in Japan, a time for couples to show their affection through the medium of chocolate. As is probably well-known by now, in Japan it’s common for women to give chocolate to the special men in their lives, and in the days leading up to February 14 millions of fathers, husbands, boyfriends and would-be-boyfriends look forward to scoring some chocolatey goodness. There are two kinds of chocolate, honmei-choco or “real heart” chocolate, given to someone you actually care about, and giri-choco or “obligation chocolate,” the kind female office workers feel obliged to give to the male employees at work, and their bosses. Chocolate companies are always trying to create new chocolate-giving trends, like the year they promoted gyaku-choco or “reverse chocolate,” trying to get males to give chocolate to females as they do in the West, or this year’s new buzzword of tomo-choco, chocolate given between friends. Of course, you never get a gift in Japan without giving one back in return (called o-kaeshi, a return gift), and March 14 has been designated as White Day, a day when men who received chocolate from women the month before should give something back, usually white chocolate or sometimes lingerie. South Korea also observes Japanese-style Valentine’s Day and White Day, and has added a new tradition: Black Day on March 14, a day when single men who received no chocolate bitterly eat a kind of noodles in a black sauce. (Incidentally, we have lots of Japanese chocolate products in stock on J-List, plus Hello Kitty items for making hand-made chocolates, too.)
Every man in Japan looks forward to receiving chocolate on Feb. 14.