Updated: February 10, 2016
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How Japanese Celebrate Valentine's Day

What are the difference of Valentine Day's celebration with the rest of the world? Find out here! http://us.jnto.go.jp/blog/valentines-day-white-day-in-japan/

The Customs

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In the states Valentine's Day is a holiday for both men and women, but caters more to men giving gifts to women, but in Japan, it is common for girls to give gifts to boys in Valentine's Day and wait for the returns in White Day at March 14th.

The practice of giving chocolate as a gift is especially common in Valentine's Day in Japan.

You will start seeing large displays of chocolate, often heart-shaped in department stores and grocery stores from mid-January, and is often a promotion to remind the girls to start preparing for Valentine's Day!

Days before the Valentine’s Day, stores get packed with a large variety of chocolates, cooking tools, and women!
In Japan, the chocolate given by women falls to two categories, Giri Choco and Honmei Choco.

Giri Choco

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Giri-choco (義理チョコ) literally means obligation choco, so is like an obligation to hand out to friends, etc and the receiver is not romantically involved whatsoever with the one who gives them.

It is a relatively inexpensive type of chocolate women give to male co-workers, casual acquaintances, and others to whom they have no romantic attachment.
Sometimes family is included in this list too (brothers, dad, cousins, etc).

In a way, Giri-chocolate is like way to cheer up people around and a way to be nice by giving chocolate to a number of people so that they won't feel left out and as a thanks for any help offered in the daily lives.

Honmei Choco

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Honmei choco (本命チョコ, literally, "true feeling chocolate") in Japan is chocolate given by women on Valentine's day to men whom the giver has romantic feelings for. This is often given to husbands, boyfriends, and prospective boyfriends.
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Honmei chocolate is usually higher-quality and more expensive than giri choco. If not a store-bought expensive chocolate, it is often a handmade chocolate, showing the recipient an effort to give the chocolate to them.

How to Differentiate?

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For foreigners who aren't really familiar with the concept of honmei and giri choco, getting a chocolate from friends or co-worker can be confusing, because how the heck do you tell them apart?

The difference between "Honmei" and "Giri" is that people don't make serious preparations when offering giri choco.

Also it is likely that people offer giri choco in front of others. As for honmei choco, people usually offer them privately. Also, honmei choco are more likely to be costly or to be homemade.
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Be careful and try not to mistake a giri choco as a honmei choco and safe yourself from confusion and embarrassing moment thinking that she's into you!

Happy Valentine, everyone!
stfunny
An International student having the adventure of her life in Tokyo, Japan.

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