Valentine's Day in Japan

By The Kimono Company on 03/02/2014

Valentine's Day in Japan heart and girl giving chocolates to boy

They do things differently in Japan. On Valentine's Day it's the girls who give to the boys, and it's always chocolate. A girl can give chocolate to as many men as she likes but the quality and quantity will indicate how she really feels: giving just a little of a cheaper variety ('duty' or 'courtesy' chocolate) is a not-so-subtle message to a work colleague or male acquaintance that he doesn't feature too largely in her dreams. Bestowing expensive, beautifully wrapped chocolates that she may even have made herself ('true feelings' or 'favourite' chocolate) expresses true romantic interest in the recipient. Of course the hapless male may find it difficult to discern the real message.

Men get a chance to return the favour, though. On White Day, a month later, the boys will give more expensive gifts including lingerie - and it's perfectly acceptable for a boss to give lingerie to his female workers as it's seen as just a bit of fun.
It all started in the 1950s when the concept of Valentine's Day was imported to Japan by a chocolate company. Because Japanese women are the traditional buyers of sweets the company aimed its marketing at females and the role reversal stuck. Chocolate manufacturers then came up with White Day for men to buy marshmallows for women - and somehow marshmallows morphed into lingerie.
Last year, one cafe in Tokyo used the latest 3D printing technology to allow female customers to make chocolate versions of their head. After each customer had her head scanned and turned into a digital model, a high-performance 3D printer made a silicone mould of the face which was then filled with liquid chocolate. Once out of the mould, the face could be decorated with bows or hearts, or even put on a lollipop stick. But what is a man to do - keep it as a cherished memento, or eat it?

Valentine's Day in Japan chocolate face on a stick

Tags: Valentine's Day | White Day | gift | chocolate | 3D printing

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