Tuesday Terminology is a weekly segment to enlighten the masses with words, phrases, and ideals usually tacked on to today’s anime/manga scene.
This week’s topic: Valentine’s Day in Japan
Unlike how it works in the United States and several other countries, Valentine’s Day in Japan is a bit different but in essence is still the same. A slight history lesson, if you will. The holiday was introduced to Japan in 1936 by Morozoff Ltd. as an advertisement campaign aimed at foreigners. In 1953, the ads began to promote the giving of heart-shaped chocolates. Other confectioneries followed suit to bank on the campaign. Further campaigns in the 60s popularized the custom to how it is now.
However, it seems that there was a tidbit that got lost in translation when Valentine’s Day was introduced to Japan that never got amended: The idea that only women give chocolate to men. This is why we always see it depicted in anime and manga that the girls make a HUGE deal about giving their crush Valentine’s Day chocolates.
There are several types, or tiers, of these chocolates depending on the recipient:
- Giri-choko (giri- “obligation”; choko “chocolate”):
- Chou-giri-choko (chou- “ultra”): Same as above, but heavily emphasizing the “ultra,” as it is meant for the unpopular guys that any woman would just feel sorry for them to not receive chocolate at all on V-day.
- Tomo-choko (tomo- “friend”): A gift of chocolate to exchange between friends.
- Honmei-choko (honmei- “Homemade”): Chocolate given to a loved one. By going through the trouble of making the confectionery themselves, the lady is able to “put all their love” into it.
Going by these tiers, you’ll be able to notice why in anime and manga the girls must absolutely feel the need to make chocolate treats, rather than just buy them, when the Day comes near.
White Day is the product of a successful campaign from the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association in the 80s. White Day is marked on March 14th as a “reply day,” in which the men are expected to return the favor to those women that gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. The gifts in return are expected to be 2-3 times better than the original gift of chocolate. Although the “White” is meant to describe the color of chocolate to return, it is not unusual for the guys to get something special for their loved one that is beyond mere candy (i.e. jewelry, accessories, clothing). The official website for White Day describes that the color white was chosen to evoke “pure, sweet teen love.” The original name of the holiday is “Ai ni Kotaeru White Day” (Answer Love on White Day).