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Let’s talk about Valentine’s Day!
Not the typical American holiday of flowers and chocolates and expensive dinners. We’re talking about the Japanese take on the time honored holiday of love. (Which is as passionately loved and hated there as it is here.)
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is almost exclusively a day for women to give chocolates to male friends, family and colleagues, as well as husbands, boyfriends, and those they hope might become their boyfriends, should they be impressed by the fine chocolates they are being given.
There are actually two types of chocolates given out on Valentine’s Day.
Giri-choco and Honmei-choco.
(A third type of chocolate is a more recent trend and this is Tomo-choco. Tomo means friend in Japanese, and Tomo-choco are for female friends in a woman’s inner circle.)
Giri means “obligatory” and so Giri-choco are often small inexpensive gifts given to colleagues, family and male (non-romantic) friends.
Honmei-choco are the special chocolates that one makes or purchases for a love interest. They are normally either far more expensive than the Giri-choco or a lot more effort has been put in to their making.
In fact the month before Valentine’s Day shops are often filled with the accessories, supplies and gift wrap that you need to make homemade chocolates and give them that special touch.
Men are not expected to reciprocate til the following month on White Day. A holiday started by a Japanese confectionery and mainly to be found in Asia.