Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Izu Life: Happy White Day!

Today (March 14th) is White Day, the day that men across Japan reciprocate all the Valentines Day gifts afforded to them from friends, colleagues and significant others on Valentines Day (February 14th).  It is common in Japan for Valentines Day to be the day girls give gifts to their male peers, and White Day a day for men to give (back) gifts to the women in their lives. However, lately the custom of giving chocolates amongst friends (also known as tomo-choco, or 'friend-chocolates') regardless of sex has become popular. 

Another popular trend is to give Valentines chocolates (usually of the luxurious and expensive variety) to oneself (called jibun-choco, or 'self-chocolates'). Some cringe at the thought of receiving the ever-awkward giri-choco ('obligatory-chocolates') given only out of social obligation to peers which must be reciprocated on White Day. Some workplaces in Japan (though not many) have gone so far as to ban giri-choco, believing they only add strain to social relations amongst employees.

The custom of White Day began in 1980 and is not found in many countries outside of Japan, although it seems to be becoming popular in South Korea and Taiwan. Chocolates, cookies, candies and marshmallows seem to be popular Valentines amongst these countries. On White Day, expensive gifts or a dinner date are popular reciprocal gifts. 

I myself, have never been a big fan of Valentines Day and steadfastly refused to participate. My students had other plans though...

Bah, Humbug!

Do you celebrate Valentines Day/White Day in your home country?


  1. Happy White Day! How about 三倍返し (sanbai gaeshi) which means triple the return, where the rule is a returned gift should be 2 to 3 times the cost of the Valentine’s gift. The boys have it tough on White Day in Japan!!

    1. Wow! I didn't know about that one! Guys do have it rough, eh!


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