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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 this holiday. But there is a country that expects the opposite. Where do women give men chocolate on Valentine’s Day? Japan! Women typically gift chocolate candies to men in this East Asian country on February 14th. Women don’t receive their treats until one month later for White Day. Read on to learn about these intriguing Japanese traditions and the difference between Valentine giri choco and honmei choco.

Romantic Valentine's Day chocolates in Japan
Romantic Valentine’s Day chocolates in Japan (Photo credit: phb.cz, Depositphotos.com)

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, male family members, 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, Depositphotos.com)

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 confectionery 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 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, Depositphotos.com)

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 bunch 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. A lot of people in Japanese society find these gender roles sexist.

Japanese chocolate truffles dusted with matcha
Japanese chocolate truffles dusted with matcha (Photo credit: TinasDreamworld, Depositphotos.com)

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, Depositphotos.com)

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 chocolate 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, Depositphotos.com)

Gyaku Choco

Some savvy Japanese men have started giving the gift of gyaku choco, or reverse chocolate, to their romantic partners in recent years. Many 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, Depositphotos.com)

White Day Holiday

Typically, men don’t have to return the favor to women until the following month. March 14th is known as White Day or Marshmallow Day in Japanese culture. Men should give thoughtful gifts at least doubly as valuable to women on this “reply day.”

Japan, Taiwan, and Korea celebrate White Day. 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.

ROYCE' Nama Chocolate "Ghana Bitter"
ROYCE’ Nama Chocolate “Ghana Bitter” (Photo credit: Amazon.com)

Japanese Valentine’s Chocolates

Treat yourself or someone special with Japanese Valentine’s chocolates this holiday!

High-end confectionary company Royce’ crafts chocolates in Hokkaido, a northern island in Japan. Best known for their velvety smooth Nama Chocolate, get a Royce’ Tasting Box to experience an assortment.

20 Japanese Kit Kat 10 flavors double assortment pack Japanese candy
20 Japanese Kit Kat 10 flavors double assortment pack (Photo from Amazon.com)

For a more playful, casual option — purchase an array of Japanese Kit Kat Bars from Ninjaz Treatz. This gift pack includes flavors like matcha, purple sweet potato, and raspberry.

Japanese sweets traditional wagashi dessert ‐ Kuzu Mochi - 2 packs
Japanese sweets traditional wagashi dessert Kuzu Mochi (Photo from Amazon.com)

White Day Candies

You don’t need to live in East Asia to enjoy White Day on March 14th.

Wagashi are Japanese candies made from ingredients like rice flour, beans and agar. These traditional sweets are typically enjoyed with a cup of green tea. Kuzu Mochi Jelly is naturally white in color, making it a great choice for a White Day gift.

Hammond’s Candies Gourmet Marshmallows – Vanilla Bean
Hammond’s Candies Gourmet Marshmallows – Vanilla Bean (Photo from Amazon.com)

Celebrate White Day with Hammond’s Candies Gourmet Marshmallows. These fluffy white puffs are delicious in hot cocoa, s’mores, or as a snack on its own.

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

More Ways to Celebrate Romance

Set sail on 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 Valentine chocolate to men?

Save These Japanese Valentine’s Day Traditions

For future reference, save this information about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Japan. Pin the image above or below to Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Where do women give men chocolate on Valentine's Day?

What do you think about this Japanese Valentine’s Day tradition? Should women give men chocolates for this holiday?

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, TravelMamas.com. 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.

Comments
  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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