Valentine’s Day in Japan

Valentine’s Day in Japan

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, when millions of Japanese males will wake up hoping to receive chocolate from their wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, female co-workers and any random girl who may be in a chocolate-giving mood. The story of how February 14 became a day for females to give chocolate to the men in their lives (as opposed to the other way around) is an interesting one. The first Valentine’s Day advertisement in Japan appeared in Showa 11 (1936), when a chocolate shop in Kobe called Morozoff promoted its wares as being perfect for lovers to enjoy together. World War II got in the way soon after, and it was a long time before anyone could think of anything as frivolous as chocolate. In 1958, the manager of the Isetan department store in Shinjuku got the idea of having a Western-style Valentine’ s Day chocolate sale, but it was a total flop (just five boxes of chocolates were sold); however things picked up a few years later when Morinaga  started promoting Valentine’s Day as a chance to “give chocolate to the people you love.” It was around 1975 when the meme of women giving chocolate to men took off, as girls decided to take the initiative and confess their feelings to boys they liked, and also show thanks to the men in their lives who help and support them. There are two kinds of chocolate, honmyo or “real heart” chocolate, received from someone who really cares for you, and giri or “obligation” chocolate, given by female office workers to their bosses or male co-workers because they feel it’s expected of them.