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Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan VS. United States: Culture Lesson:

Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan VS. United States: Culture Lesson:

Valentine’s Day.  A day inspired by a man who married people in love in secret, losing his life for the cause.  A romantic beginning, huh?  Yet, I am blessed for what he has done, for now, we have a special day to show love and help us realize we have it every day.  Our modern way of showing this day of love is stores covered in red and pink with white lace, cutting out paper hearts in an array of shapes, Cupid is our main man, dates planned between couples, and more candy that your mind can comprehend.

The holiday was adapted to this precious beloved island nation in the 1950s, the fun, commercial nature of it that The United States has also transported over as well.  Yet, with their own twists.  Let us explore another lesson in culture with our brothers and sisters from The Land of The Rising Sun.

Valentine’s Day in Japan VS. America: Culture Lesson:


Indeed!  The sweet divinity that our stomach yearns for!  In America, chocolates are bought on Valentine’s Day for those we love: spouses, parents, kids, crushes, class parties, siblings, other family members, teachers, neighbors…  Anyone we want to.  We are used to heart-shaped boxes in a range of sizes, designs, and prices most commonly (and chalky sweethearts thrown in our goodie bags for good measure.)  Chocolate, dinner, and roses are just the trademarks of an American Valentine’s Day, expected when you see the one that makes your heart patter; schools often have dances for this day of romance too.

Japan, like us, utilizes chocolate, borrowing that tradition from our country.  Yet, their custom for it is endearing and broken apart into different sections depending on the relationship you have to who you are giving the chocolate to.

Before that, similar to us, stores from fancy chocolate and pastry shops to convenience stores, have a large selection of boxed candies and chocolates one can purchase.  HOWEVER, the method that gets girls all a twitter and boys sweating with anticipation is the hobby of GIRLS MAKING HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES! You see this often depicted in anime and manga, admittedly some of the story arcs that make me smile the most.  Girls make things from melting chocolate, making a kawaii mold, and adding pretty decor or additional flavorings to delicious and complex cakes, cupcakes, or brownies.  Ladies in middle school or high school will get together to bake together and plan their special gift or sometimes alone to focus.

Yet, how much effort do the girls put into their chocolate obtaining or baking?  Again, that depends on the rapport with the one receiving it.  Let’s get into it:


This is known as “obligation” chocolate.  Some girls feel bad for boys who do not get sweets, so they could get a small box of chocolate or a little bag of homemade treats.  Girls also can make chocolates for their families, male friends, co-workers, or neighbors that they DON’T have any romantic or deep feelings for (or if they want to or can afford it.  It is not required and chocolate is expensive and time-consuming to prep.)  Often, older women will give giri-choco to little boys who are their neighbors to be kind.


This type of chocolate is known as “friendship” chocolate.  It is popular in middle school and high school to exchange with each other.  Also, it can be bought or homemade.  What is neat here is that in today’s time, boys can give this type of chocolate to girls or another close guy friend; it is not just for girls.  This can also be good to give to family members, like parents, siblings, and grandparents if they live close to you and they have a loving relationship.  This type is made with the love of sisterhood or brotherhood.


The most famous and heartfelt form of chocolate giving!  This is for romantic love.  This is where young women often spend lots of time, energy, heart, soul, and nervousness planning this affair for February 14th.  The boy that makes their heart go doki doki is placed into their creation, their thoughts of if they will get accepted.  Some girls hid the chocolates in their shoe locker or their desk (sometimes their names are on it; sometimes they remain anonymous.)  The ones who muster up their courage meet them privately to bow and hand them their treats, ask them to please accept it.  Some guys only accept chocolates of girls they like in return.  Others accept all chocolate to be polite, thanking them nicely.

So, does this mean that love confessions happen during Valentine’s Day?  It is possible, but often the act of a boy accepting the chocolate made with such love and admiration is a nerve-wracking enough experience and its own reward.  Fun Fact:  Often, love confessions happen on graduation days or the last day of school.  Maybe I can do a cultural lesson on that if you want?  😉

Wives can make or buy chocolates for their husbands as well if they want.

You can also buy yourself chocolate too and enjoy!  Treat yourself! 😉


In the United States, women tend to find the right dress to look nice for a lovely dinner.  Men rush to purchase breathtaking flower arrangements, dazzling jewelry, or a cuddly stuffed animal (and chocolates…DUH!).  Or a cozy day in with a movie is also a popular choice.  Still, a ‘date’ of some sort is planned.  Like stated earlier, sweetheart dances for students still in school are common, girls getting dolled up and young men renting a suit and trying to figure out what a corsage is (I hear this from my male friends often.)  Getting reservations is tough.  Being romantic is the game you play.  Ordering flowers need to be done a month in advance.  Yet, it’s for love and being with the one that makes your Kokoro race and makes you happy.

However, in Nihon, dating or asking a crush to go on Valentine’s Day is not really done UNLESS maybe you are an established couple.  The most popular date day of the year in Japan is Christmas Eve, which I talked about in my Last Cultural Post.  Valentine’s Day is more about acceptance and chocolate.

White Day:

From what you read, it seems like the girls do most of the work for Valentine’s Day.  And, for the most part, that guess is correct.  However, do not fret, ladies!  Your day will come  A month later, on March 14th, is WHITE DAY.  This is where the men who got chocolate return the favor for their sweet confections with gifts.  It can be anything from a hairpin, something homemade, a meal, or even a trip!  Japan is a land of appreciation and respect and White Day is the proof of that.


I always admire the effort and love that goes into baking chocolate for those you love, girls getting together to have a good time while they do it.  So, once I got married, I started making my own simple homemade chocolate for those I love and have taught my friends and students how to do so well.  Making fun and unique flavors with cute molds I have bought over the years.  ^_^

No matter how you celebrate the day, what culture you are a part of, and the traditions you share, I hope it is as sweet as you.


Hope your day is delightful and heartfelt. Stay geeky! 🙂


Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice, and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real-life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.

For more information about Morgan and her works, check out her website, which also has links to all her social medias: http://morganscomnick.com


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