Valentine’s Day (February 14th) is celebrated in Japan every year not just by couples, but also between friends and families.
The one thing about Valentine’s Day, in Japan, that is probably uncommon in other countries is that women give presents to men. The custom of a woman or girl giving chocolate as a gift to a man or boy that they like started around the 1950s in Japan.
While the holiday is thought to be somewhat romantic, there are also many people who give chocolate to their colleagues and bosses regardless of gender or romantic feelings. This is considered as the “obligatory chocolate (Giri-choko)” and the feelings behind it is of maintaining a good relationship with people who take care of you.
In recent years, it seems that the practice of exchanging obligatory chocolates in the workplace is decreasing. On the flip side, there is a growing trend where friends opt for chocolate exchanges, and people are pampering themselves with special, pricey chocolates as a personal treat during Valentine's time.
You can also purchase some of these chocolates mentioned below online via Amazon Japan.
Starting from the end of January, sections of department and retail stores have pop-up shops selling an assortment of chocolate gifts. During this time, many luxury chocolate brands are also sold in unique packaging. Even if you don’t plan on giving them for a gift, these high quality specialty chocolates are only seen once a year so it recommended that you give them a try yourself.
In Department Stores (like Mitsukoshi, Isetan, Marui, etc.) Valentine’s Day sweets from many popular brands and sweets shops are displayed nicely in glass cases. It can be fun to stop by a department store, if you have time, just to observe the cute and creative sweets made especially for Valentine’s Day. If you are unsure about where to find Valentine’s chocolate, we recommend you to go to your nearest department store for a wide selection.
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