Valentine’s day is a day for lovers. In Japan, it is a day that girls give chocolates to boys they like. Soon after the traditional Japanese decorations for New year are gone, stores and markets get filled with Valentine’s chocolates from low budget to luxury categories. This custom of giving chocolate from girls to boys was started by a chocolate maker and now it becomes a huge annual market next to Christmas. (It is said that nowadays Halloween is bigger event than Valentine’s, but still it is one of big yearly events.)

Valentine’s day in Japan had become popular about 60 years ago, and the ways of celebrating Valentine’s are changing day by day. There are a lots of kinds of chocolates that are on sale before Valentine’s day, and it is fun just seeing those variety of sweets. Girls who love chocolate enjoy choosing their gifts to loved ones. These days chocolate giving is not only to lovers but also to friends and even as a self-gifting practice. Most chocolate gifts can be categorized into 4 types below.

  • True Love Chocolate (本命チョコ/Honmei choco) : for a boy who a girl really loves.
  • Thank You Chocolate (義理チョコ/Giri choco) : for people who one wants to tell their “thank you” like colleague or client. Or for boys who one just likes as a friend.
  • Friend Chocolate (友チョコ/Tomo Choco): Usually happens between girls. Swapping their favorite chocolate with their friends.
  • For-myself Chocolate (ご褒美チョコ/Gohobi choco): Nowadays I think this is the biggest volume. They buy luxury or their favorite chocolate or sweets for themselves as a reward for working hard everyday. Usually they buy cheap snacks which price at 100Yen to 300Yen at convenience stores, but for Valentine’s season they enjoy finding their favorite “a little bit rich” chocolate. According to the latest news, there are some ladies who spent more than 20,000 yen for themselves.

Also handmade chocolates/sweets are still popular. At supermarkets, they have bunch of handmade kits. Nowadays, elementary school girls also enjoy making chocolate with their moms to giving their handmade chocolate to their friends at school. The homemade Valentine’s goods have got more variety and choices year by year. Even at 100 yen shops, they have Valentine’s corner and selling cute wrapping goods.

Me? I will be enjoying “for-myself chocolate” of course.