Valentine’s Day in Japan is interesting in the way, that unlike most other countries, it is custom for women to give chocolates to men. Unlike most other countries romance has also seemed to been stripped off as women not only give chocolates to that special someone but also male bosses, co-workers, friends… basically a lot of other people as well.
Honmei-choco are chocolates reserved for that special someone, which is what you have in western countries as well, although more often than not, the other way around.
Giri-choco, translated as obligation chocolates, are given to male bosses, co-workers, friends who you have no romantic interest in.
And then lastly there are tomo-choco, friendship chocolates, where women give chocolates to their female friends.
What was interesting about observing valentine in Japan was how willingly women spend money on buying chocolates for more or less everyone in their lives. Another thing that was also interesting was that I went to supermarkets and department stores the day after valentine (like a vulture!) looking for cheap valentine chocolates. There was surprisingly not much around as most of it seemed to be either taken down and sold normally or rebranded as White Day chocolates. The next big spending “holiday” here in Japan it seems, where a month after Valentine, men return the favor and buy (white) gifts for women.
In conclusion the Japanese chocolate industry must be over the moon come every valentine, because they’ve basically managed to make women (and men one month after for white day) buy chocolates for everyone. In Japan, nobody gets left out on valentine.