Although Valentines Day isn’t until Thursday, since I’m doing my Throwback Thursday posts I thought I’d post this today, an explanation of how they celebrate Valentines Day in Japan. It’s a little different to back in the UK, so read on if you want to find out more!
Although traditionally, as far as I’m aware, Valentines in the UK was a time to confess your feelings for the person you like, whether it be with a card, a cute little note, or a gift, nowadays the focus seems to be more on already-established couples. There are countless deals for going on weekends away, or to dinner at a fancy restaurant, or even for set meals for 2 at supermarkets to have a cosy dinner in.
In Japan, the confession aspect of Valentines is still going strong. It’s traditionally seen as a day for girls and women to confess to the person they like, through the medium of chocolate. The chocolate can be bought, or handmade (by this I mean one buys bars of normal chocolate, melts them down, maybe adds some cream, pours the mixture into cute shaped moulds, and decorates them with great attention to detail). Some people might be thinking ”this sounds a bit sexist, why is it only the women who are expected to give something?” The answer? It isn’t. Not technically. The ladies give chocolate on Valentines Day, and then a month later, on 14th March, known here as White Day, the guys are supposed to return the favour, generally with a small gift rather than chocolate.
Another point I found amusing is that in an article I read recently (admittedly from last year, but the point still stands), 90% of the recipients of chocolates given by female Japanese teenagers were, in fact, other girls.
How so, you ask?
Well, there are multiple levels of chocolate giving, allow me to explain the major ones:
Honmei (本命チョコ) : literally translating to ‘favourite’, this is the ones you give to that special person you like. Generally these ones are handmade, to show you’re serious.
Giri (義理チョコ) : ‘obligatory’ chocolate. This is the one you give to male coworkers, friends, family etc. People you don’t have romantic feelings for. These can be bought or handmade but are probably more often bought (because why would you go through all the hard work of handmaking it for someone you don’t have feelings for, I guess?)
Tomo (友チョコ) : ‘friend’ chocolate. This is generally the chocolate girls give to each other, and this is also normally handmade and very cute. Sometimes a group of friends will get together and make chocolate for this purpose.
Jiko (自己チョコ) : ‘self’ chocolate. Yes, if you don’t have anyone you particularly want to give chocolates to, or if you found some cute chocolates you want to try, then this is for you. I actually did this last time I was in Japan, on my year abroad, haha.
So what am I doing this year?
I’ve never tried making Japanese-style Valentines chocolate before, so this year I’ve decided to give it a try! And I’m giving alllll the kinds listed above!
I hope if you decide to try making some that yours turn out beautifully, or that if you’re confessing to someone this year, it goes well ❤
(and if not, treat yo'self to some Jiko Choco!~)