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“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.” ‒ Ludwig Wittgenstein
Valentine’s Day is coming up soon! Are you excited? Do you already have a special gift picked for your loved ones? After living in U.S. for a while, I noticed that the way people celebrate Valentine’s Day here is totally different from the way I experienced in Japan. Some of you might already know how the Japanese celebrate Valentine’s Day each year, but I thought I would introduce you to some cultural aspect of the way Japanese celebrate in Japan today.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th in Japan as well. There are many different stories how the Valentine’s Day was first celebrated in Japan, but most of the stories will basically start with a company starting to sell chocolates by promoting them as gifts for women to give men on Valentine’s Day. Historically, there was only one kind of chocolate that women would buy or prepare as a Valentine’s gift just for someone she really loved. It could be a boyfriend or husband, but also a someone to whom she wants to express her love.
Valentine’s Day event is also popular among school children. Popular school-age boys come home with many chocolates on Valentine’s Day in Japan.
Here are the different type of chocolates that we address on the Valentine’s Day in Japan. I have to tell you, the list is growing every year. I am sure the list will keep growing as people come up with all types of ways to give chocolates on Valentine’s Day each year.
Honmei Choco (本命 チョコ、ほんめい ちょこ) – true love chocolate
This is a traditional chocolate given from women to men on Valentine’s Day in Japan.
Giri Choco (義理 チョコ、 ぎり ちょこ) – fake love chocolate
Giri chocolates are casually given from women to men who are friends, family or co-worker.
No emotional feelings attached here. 🙂
Tomo Choco (友 チョコ、とも ちょこ) – Chocolates for friends
Tomo means “friends”, so these are chocolates given from women to specifically friends.
Jiko Choco (自己 チョコ、じこ ちょこ) – my chocolates
Jiko means “self” in Japanese. These are chocolates given to themselves as a special treat.
Gyaku Choco (逆 チョコ、 ぎゃく チョコ) – reversed chocolates
Gyaku means “reversed” in Japanese. Traditionally, in Western cultures, men give gifts to women. With this influence, couples or husbands and wives these days give each other chocolates. The chocolates given from men to women is called “Gyaku Choco” on Valentine’s Day in Japan as this is sort of reversing the culture.
Homo Choco (ホモ チョコ、ほも ちょこ) – chocolates given from men to men
This type of chocolates as well as the one below are getting popular in Japan.
Yuri Choco (ユリ チョコ、ゆり ちょこ) – chocolates given from women to women
Another new type of chocolates given on Valentine’s Day in Japan.
Neta Choco (ネタ チョコ、ねた ちょこ) – chocolates used as a topic of funny conversation
Neta means “topic” in Japanese. There are so many types of chocolates out there especially before the Valentine’s Day, and some of them could be really funny. This is the type of chocolate that people buy because it’s funny looking or cute looking (animals, etc) to casually give to friends and family just to talk about them.
I never knew there were so many type of chocolates out there for Valentine’s Day in Japan now these days. If you can travel to Japan before the Valentine’s Day, you will find it very interesting as you can see so many types of chocolates at stores. I am sure this is the same in many other countries as well. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!