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Senseis’ Voices

Valentine’s Day in Japan



Did you buy chocolates for Valentine’s Day? In Japan, women have long been known to buy honmei choko, or “true feeling chocolate” for men they show romantic interest in, and giri choko, or “obligatory chocolate” for male colleagues. Men then reciprocate with gifts on White Day (14 March).

However, more and more men are now buying Valentine’s day chocolates, leading to the coining of the term choko-o (chocolate man). More recently, giri choko are referred to as shea (share) choko, or sankyuu (thank you) choko. There are other new terms such as mai choko, tomo choko and fami choko. Mai choko is chocolate bought for the sole purpose of consuming by oneself.  It is also known as jibun choko or ore choko. Ore is a masculine term meaning ‘I’ or ‘me’, hence a chocolate for oneself.

The tomo in tomo choko is for tomodachi (friend), and the fami in fami choko for family. There’s also mama choko and papa choko. Both children and adults, male and female buy mai choko, tomo choko and fami choko. Being for friends and family, there’s no romantic meaning attached to this gesture.

Valentine’s Day was introduced to Japan around 1950. On average each person spends around 4 to 5 thousand yen on chocolates (around 60 – 70 AUD) every year. While the gifts are far from the scale of a Christmas present, they are a conduit for expressing feelings of appreciation to the people around them.





Top photo: whale | Haline Ly

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