Valentine is a day celebrated all over the world. In western countries, people send their loved ones cards, flowers, chocolate and some other gifts. In Japan we celebrate this romantic day as well. However we developed our own custom. Simply put, it has become an event for women.
On Valentine’s Day women give chocolate to men to show their feelings for them. The chocolate given to someone special is called Hommei-choco (本命チョコ/True love chocolate). This is the origin of Japanese Valentine and probably still the most common one to this day. Other than Hommei-choco, there are some other types of chocolate that women give. Women give chocolate to their friends or to colleagues. That is called Giri-choco (義理チョコ/ Chocolate for social obligation). In a recent trend, women exchanges chocolate between female friends, which is called Tomo-choko (友チョコ/Friendship chocolate). Some women buy chocolate for themselves called Jibun-choco (自分チョコ/chocolate for own self).
Valentine’s Day may be one of the days when women get most excited. You will see a great number of different chocolate in stores such as department stores, local pastry shops, supermarkets and even convenience stores. Especially in department stores, whole floors or huge sections are filled with many different chocolate stores and you also see many women buying chocolate. You may be surprised that so many women buy chocolate for Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate sold in the department stores for Valentine’s Day could be limited versions or made by famous pâtissier from all over the world. Actually the chocolate you will see around this time at the department stores are just like art or jewels, not only the regular heart-shaped chocolate, but also colorful, glittering, or fun shaped ones like animals. But you will be surprised by some of the prices. Many women get attracted by the pretty chocolate and just purchase the chocolate despite the price, maybe for someone special or as a treat for themselves. Some may spend even more money on their own treat than anything else and buy more than one or two. They may be looking forward to buying the pretty chocolate for themselves.
In another trend, it is becoming an event for men too. A new phenomena called Ore-choko (俺チョコ) is when a man buys chocolate for himself. This is for men who have a sweet-tooth. You will find more manly looking chocolate such as tie or car shaped ones and chocolate made with some alcohol like sake or shōchū. It doesn’t mean a man has to buy the manly looking chocolate of course, he can buy any chocolate, not only for himself but also for someone.
Even though Valentine’s Day is becoming more and more commercialized, if you have a sweet-tooth and love chocolate, it might be fun just to buy something that you like.