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Where do women give men chocolate on Valentine’s Day? (Not vice versa!)

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In many western countries like the United States, we associate Valentine's Day with flowers and chocolates purchased by men and given to their wives and girlfriends on Valentine's Day. But there is a country that expects the opposite. In which country do women give men chocolate on Valentine's Day? In Japan, women typically gift chocolate candies to men on February 14th. Read on to learn about the intriguing Japanese traditions of giri choco and honmei choco and the reciprocal White Day holiday one month later when women finally receive their treats!

Romantic Valentine's Day chocolates in Japan
Romantic Valentine's Day chocolates in Japan (Photo credit:,

Valentine's Day in Japan

In Japan, Valentine's Day is all about women purchasing the right amount and quality of chocolate for their husbands, boyfriends, and even male coworkers. Similarly, women give chocolate to men on February 14th in other Asian countries like Taiwan and South Korea.

Heart shaped chocolates
Heart-shaped honmei chocolates (Photo credit: Odelinde,

Honmei Choco

There are different types of chocolates Japanese women give to men on Valentine's Day. Honmei choco is beautifully decorated, high-quality chocolate often presented in elaborate gift boxes.

Female friends may utilize this holiday to convey their romantic interest in friends or acquaintances with heart-shaped chocolates. Meanwhile, already coupled women express love to their boyfriends and husbands with expensive chocolate from a premium confectionary company.

A gift of homemade chocolate is the most romantic way to confess your love on Valentine's Day in Japan. Nama chocolate is a popular handmade Japanese chocolate dessert gifted on this holiday.

Nama, a popular homemade chocolate dessert in Japan
Nama, a popular homemade chocolate dessert in Japan (Photo credit: kwanchaichaiudom,

Giri Choco

Another type of Valentine's chocolate in Japan is giri choco, which is obligation chocolate for platonic recipients. Women give gifts of chocolates to work superiors, male colleagues, teachers, and fellow classmates.

Instead of spending a lot of money at department stores and high-end chocolate companies to express romantic feelings, women purchase these obligatory chocolates at convenience stores and grocery stores. These chocolate treats typically come in neutral shapes and plain packaging.

Giving giri choco is a traditional way to build harmonious relationships. This Japanese tradition, however, is losing popularity on Valentine's Day and is seen by a growing number of women as sexist.

Japanese chocolate truffles dusted with matcha
Japanese chocolate truffles dusted with matcha (Photo credit: TinasDreamworld,

Tomo Choco

Friendship chocolate, or tomo chocolate, is becoming more popular in Japan, especially among high school girls. These chocolates are given to both male and female best friends on Valentine's Day as a sign of friendship and appreciation rather than romance.

Jibun choco is chocolate women buy themselves on Valentine's Day in Japan
Jibun choco is chocolate women buy themselves on Valentine's Day in Japan (Photo credit: PantherMediaSeller,

Jibun Choco

Meaning “self” in Japanese, jibun choco is chocolate bought for oneself to enjoy on Valentine's Day. This might be the most important of all the types of chocolates women buy for this holiday in Japan. After all, isn't self-love the most important love?

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a popular Valentine's Day treat in Japan
Chocolate-covered strawberries are a popular Valentine's Day treat in Japan (Photo credit: 5seconds,

Gyaku Choco

Some savvy Japanese men have started giving the gift of gyaku choco, or reverse chocolate, to their romantic partners in recent years. A lot of people see this new development as merely a marketing campaign by chocolate makers. But really, what's wrong with a little extra romance and delicious chocolate treats for your special person?

Romantic marshmallows and sweet treats for White Day in Japan
Romantic marshmallows and sweet treats for White Day in Japan (Photo credit: MNStudio,

White Day

Typically, men don't have to return the favor to women until a month after Valentine's Day. March 14th is known as White Day or Marshmallow Day in Japanese culture. Men are expected to give gifts at least doubly as valuable to women on this “reply day.”

White Day is celebrated in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. A marshmallow manufacturer originally launched this special day in an attempt to convince men to give these puffy white confections to women. Now, in addition to marshmallows, men give white chocolates, white lingerie, and jewelry or other gifts in white packaging to women on March 14th.

Japanese KitKat variety pack
Japanese KitKat variety pack (Photo from

Craving Chocolate and Sweets?

After all that talk about chocolates and marshmallows, you might be craving something sweet. I know I am! Go ahead, treat yourself or that special someone in your life!

Order this variety pack of 16 Japanese Kit Kat flavors like strawberry and matcha.

Satisfy your chocolate-covered strawberry cravings with this 12-pack of Love Berries.

Sink your sweet teeth into these 29 tempting gourmet chocolates.

You can't go wrong with Godiva Chocolatier! Purchase this Godiva Gold Gift Box.

Take a peek at these handmade marshmallows in flavors like black cherry, butterscotch, Key lime, and lemon meringue.

Celebrate White Day with these gourmet vanilla marshmallows.

Newlyweds aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise
Newlyweds aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise (Photo credit: Alain M. Martinez, Royal Caribbean)

More Ways to Celebrate Romance

Plan a romantic Royal Caribbean Cruise with these tips.

Take a look at this list of romantic comedies set in London to watch with your honey (or your besties).

Seeking a dreamy couple's destination? Check out these romantic things to do in Monterey, California.

Think Disneyland is just for kids? Think again! Discover romance at Disneyland.

In which country do women give men chocolate on Valentine's Day (but not vice versa)?

Save These Japanese Valentine's Day Traditions

For future reference, save this information about the different ways Valentine's Day is celebrated in Japan. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

What do you think about this Japanese tradition? Should women give men chocolate on Valentine's Day?

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Mary L . Starling says

    I gave & do not regret it 💝🤴

  2. Stephen Robert says

    This is a new thing that I know from your blog thank you for sharing.

  3. Okay, this is definitely on my trip list for the next Valentines;)

  4. This is another way to get your favorite chocolates in the house. Who knows what will happen to them?

  5. All I can say is I’m glad I don’t live in Japan. There’s no way I’d want to deal with two Valentines Day, even if one was all about me getting treats.

  6. I give my husband chocolate for Valentine’s Day too – he’s the chocoholic in this couple! 🙂

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