I’m finally back in Japan after my two week visit to Summerland and Montreal.
It was great to be home to see all my friends and family, but the best part was eating all the western food that I had been craving for the past seven months!
I arrived in Toyokoro on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day is a little different here in Japan, but at this point I’m no longer surprised at the way Japanese people celebrate holidays.
This holiday is kind of split between two days in Japan, one being Feb. 14, which they call Valentine’s Day, and the other being March 14, which they call White Day.
On Valentine’s Day, it is only the women who present gifts to men.
These gifts are typically chocolate, but there are two different types of chocolate that a woman can give to a man.
There is “Giri-choco,” which is given to friends and colleagues and then there is “Honmei-choco,” which is given to a boyfriend or husband.
Typically Japanese women will make the Honmei-choco themselves because they believe that it is not true love if they just buy the ready made chocolates at the store. So essentially, Valentine’s Day is a day that women get to show their love and appreciation for all the men in their lives.
What is more interesting than Valentine’s Day, is White Day, a holiday that is unique to Japan. White Day is the day that men give gifts in return to the women that gave them gifts on Valentine’s Day.
Typically, the chocolate that the men give to the women is white, hence the name White Day. Unlike Valentines Day, the men can give a variety of gifts aside from just chocolate such as flowers, candies, jewelry, and marshmallows.
This year Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday and I didn’t see any of my co-workers, so I didn’t give anyone chocolate.
However, because I am the foreigner, I will most likely be showered in gifts on White Day from my male coworkers. I’m pretty excited because you can never really have enough free chocolate in life.
One thing I wonder about Valentine’s Day/White Day in Japan is what happens if your girlfriend gives you chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but then you break up with her before White Day.
Is the man still obligated to give her chocolate on White Day as a thank you for her gift on Valentine’s Day? Or is the man thinking, “Woo, free chocolate, I’m out” and he doesn’t give her any gifts in return?
These are the burning questions in my life here in Japan. If I find out the answer, I’ll let you know!
Allyssa Hooper is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.