- Giri-choco (“duty/obligation”) are given to bosses, colleagues, family members, and any other men in a woman’s life who nonromantic; if Valentine’s falls on a weekend, co-workers won’t receive chocolates.
- Cho-giri choco (ultra obligation) are cheap chocolates given to unpopular co-workers.
- Honmei-choco (“”probable winner/the favorite”) is the chocolates given to a loved one and is the most expensive kind of chocolate or home-made.
- Tomo-choco (“friend”) is the chocolate given to a female friend.
- Gyaku Choco (“reverse”) are given by men to women.
Valentine’s Day in Japan
Who started Valentine’s in Japan?
Sevearl companies seem to claim they started Valentine’s Day in Japan.
- Morozoff Ltd., a Kobe based confectionery and cake company founded in 1931, claims they introduced Valentine’s Day to Japan in 1932 and promoted it in 1953.
- The Times article “How Valentine’s Day Conquered Japan” from 2 February 2007 claims “The the first Valentine’s sale in Japan took place in 1958 and Tokyo chocolatier Mary Chocolate’s event generated 150 yen total in sales (the company sold three bars of chocolate in three days).“
- The confectionery company Morinaga, which started in 1899, claims to have “launched a major media campaign pairing chocolate gift-giving with Valentine’s Day [in1960]; a move the helped normalize the observance of Valentine’s Day in Japan.”; they started the trend of women giving chocolates to men.
Whoever actually brought in Valentine’s Day or made it successful doesn’t seem to change the fact that Valentine’s Day was merely used as a marketing tool to sell chocolates. ”Now the chocolate companies in Japan sell more than half of their annual sales during the week before Valentine’s Day.“
In Western countries, men are expected to give presents–flowers, chocolates, etc.–to their lovers on Valentine’s Day, but not in Japan. Women are expected to give out chocolates on Valentine’s Day to all of the men in their lives. During a survey, Morinaga found that both men and women are interested in changing this tradition to the Western tradition. The company decided to create a new trend of gyaku choco for the lose of chocolate sales from “Japanese women [being] fed up with feeling pressured to buy chocolate for men they don’t care about.” The company hopes their made up word chokomen, men who give women chocolates, will become popular.
The price of the chocolates seem to be related to how much a woman likes the recipient.
- Japan Guide “Survey: Valentine’s Day and White Day“
- Yamaonna (Blog) “honne, giri, and not tomo-choco” by Michele(2/21/2011)
- NPR’s “A Whirlpool of Passion For Valentine’s Day in Japan” by Lucy Craft (2/11/2011)
- NPR’s “Japanese Embrace Valentine’s Day” (2/12/2010)
- The Society Pages “Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Japan” by Gwen Sharp (2/10/2010)