Valentine’s Day in Japan

February 14th is celebrated in countries throughout the world as Valentine’s Day- a day to show love to those special people in your life. Overtime, Valentine’s Day has become more and more commercialized throughout the world. For some, this day is dreaded as it reminds them of their loneliness, for others it is the perfect day to go on a date. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with its own traditions and cultural norms.

Valentine’s day in Japan usually involves women giving more or larger gifts than the men, who usually are not the main gift-givers. Women give gifts to not only their love interests but also to men they have important relationships with like their male friends. In Japan, lots of chocolate is given as a gift rather than flowers, jewelry, etc. Valentine’s day originated through ad campaigns that aimed to sell heart-shaped chocolates as a form of women expressing that they have feelings or a crush on someone without needing to verbalize it. These chocolates can mean different things depending on how they were made or flavored, some hand-made and others store boughten.

Today, Valentine’s Day in Japan still revolves around chocolate. However, on March 14th White Day has been celebrated in Japan since 1980, as it was determined that the men must be giving to those they love as well. White Day is the day where the men commonly return the gift. Many people feel that these holidays put a lot of pressure on both men and women, as it could be seen as forced gift-giving. Especially as these chocolates can cost a lot of money and must be sent to bosses to not offend them. Regardless, commercialism continues to play a huge role both in Japan and internationally.

By Kayley Hill

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