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White Day Versus Valentine’s Day – Confused?

February 14, 2011

Read on for our lowdown on what to do and when and what makes Japanese Valentine’s day different to home.

If you’re from a Western country then highly likely you’re used to lavishing gifts, cards and flowers on the lady in your life come Valentine’s day. Well now you’re in Okinawa you’re in for a surprise. Ladies – it’s time to pamper your man on Valentine’s day, you have to wait another month until March!
Valentine’s day in Japan is a time for ladies to present a gift to the men in their lives, normally chocolate. Ladies in the past have given good quality chocolate called “honmei choco”. However, it’s becoming more fashionable for ladies to give handmade chocolate as a sign that the man in their lives is the “only one”. Hence why you will see lots of chocolate and cake making ingredients in the stores. It’s also common for ladies to give inexpensive gifts of chocolate to work colleagues and male friends. These gifts of appreciation are called “giri-choco”. As Valentine’s day has become bigger and bigger business for the chocolate companies, “tomo choco” has also appeared in recent years, which is chocolate for their female friends.

White day comes around on March 14th and is a chance for men to return the favour. This is a relatively modern invention having started in 1978 by a confectionary company on the grounds that men should have the chance to reciprocate the gifts bought for them on Valentine’s day!
It’s now common for men to buy gifts of chocolate, jewellery, white chocolate or white lingerie for the special woman in their life. They’re also expected to give “giri choco” to female friends or co-workers who may have bought them chocolate on Valentine’s day.
However, the ladies have the last laugh, and their patience of waiting an extra month is rewarded as it’s expected for men to give gifts of two to three times the value of their received Valentine’s gift. The Japanese use the expression “sanbai gaeshi” or “thrice returned”
If you’re looking for a chocolate gift or to make your own then most major supermarkets have large displays of everything you need. If you prefer to go the Western way and send your loved one flowers, then check out www.flowerdrop.net for flower delivery in Okinawa with ordering and service in English.

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