Valentine's Day is celebrated in an interesting manner on two different dates in the country of Japan. On February 14, female present gifts to their boyfriends or any man close to them. The favor is returned to ladies on the White Day celebrated on March 14 when men pamper women who gave them gifts a month before on Valentines Day.
There is a strong tradition of women gifting chocolates to men on Valentines Day in Japan. It is seen that two types of chocolates are more popular for Valentine's Day. One type of chocolate called giri-choco is bought for friends, bosses, colleagues and close male friends. ‘Giri' in Japan means obligation hence these types of chocolates has no romantic association. Giri chocolates are mostly bought from the store. Ladies make sure they pass on giri-choco to please all men close to them as it is seen that men who do not receive any chocolate feel embarrassed.
Chocolates for boyfriends, lovers or husbands are special ones and are called hon-mei. Many Japanese girls think that it is not true love if they buy Valentine's day chocolates for their boyfriend and hence honmei -choco is usually prepared by girls themselves. Men feel lucky if they receive honmei (prospective winner)-choco on Valentine's Day.
As chocolate is the most popular gift for the occasion, days before the festival department and grocery stores stock themselves with chocolates in large variety to lure customers. It is estimated that more than half the chocolate sold in a year is sold around Valentines Day in Japan.
White Day celebration in Japan is said to have been initiated as a marketing tool by marshmallow chocolate company in the 1960s. On March 14 or White Day men are supposed to give return gifts of chocolates to women who gifted them chocolates on February 14. The color of the chocolate is generally white because of the name of the day. These days, men also gift flowers, candies and other gifts along with the chocolates.
Valentine's Day and White Day festival is celebrated with charm and enthusiasm in Japan. It is observed that the festivals are more popular amongst young group especially those below 20 years. Most popular Valentine's Day gift is chocolates though ladies also give other gifts like neckties and clothes to men dear to them.