5 gifts you should avoid to give to your second half on the Valentine’s day in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

5 gifts you should avoid to give to your second half on the Valentine’s day in Japan

By Guidable Writers Feb 14, 2018

This post is also available in: Russian Vietnamese

As you might know, in Japan, normally WOMEN give gifts to their partners on Valentine’s day! Usually, we choose chocolates for the gifts, however, if you are a girl, you may not be satisfied with a small chocolate bar and you wish to attach another gift as well. Or perhaps you are a guy, but you wish to give something else besides chocolate to your girl. But you need to be careful because some things might have a bad meaning as a gift in Japan! This is the 5 things you shouldn’t use as a gift! I hope this post will prevent you from a terrible moment on Valentine’s day!

Handkerchief (Hankachi ハンカチ)

This is a very useful and reasonable thing for a gift, but in Japan, it means “the end” of the relations and farewell. It’s because handkerchief is written as ‘Tegire- 手巾’ in Japanese, which means ‘hand towels’ but the sound reminds of ‘Tegire- 手切れ’ like the meaning of severing of relationships. Furthermore, you must not choose it as a gift in China since it means breaking off the relationship with someone who’s receiving the gift, which has a similar meaning in Japan! On the other hands, most of us have an image of a handkerchief, wiping out our tears, such as on a funeral. Therefore, it has a negative meaning in Japan, so you better avoid giving it to your lover on Valentine’s day! However, if you really want to choose this as a gift since it may be his/her favorite thing, I recommend you to put a lovely letter with it to show that it doesn’t have any negative meaning behind it!


Dishes (Shokki 食器)

I guess you can easily imagine the reason why you shouldn’t choose dishes as a gift. It’s because dishes are easily broken, which makes us imagine the couple breaking up or being separated eventually. However, recently lots of people, especially young people, don’t really care about this, so they sometimes choose it as their special gift for their lovers or friends who are getting married. In addition, it is thought in a positive way, meaning descendant in prosperity since 1 piece of dish produces lots of pieces. Therefore, it is not only the thing you ‘must’ avoid to choose as a gift, also if you and your girlfriend/boyfriend are not close enough for the things like getting married, you better look for other choices!


Shoes& Socks (Kutsu& Kutsushita 靴&靴下)

There are a lot of opinions about this stuff, but one of those is that they are not suitable as a gift. Since shoes and socks mean ‘step on’ and ‘look down’. Therefore, until Showa period (Showa Jidai) it was known as a “bad-mannered gift”. Moreover, it’s thought if you give these to your girlfriend or a boyfriend, they would go far away from you with it in the future! Or your lovers might get the idea either of you wanting THEM to leave or YOU want to leave them! However, recently young people don’t care about this meaning so much, so you don’t need to worry about this unless your lover is quite old!


Comb (Kushiくし)

We say 4 as ‘shi四’ in Japanese, but it reminds us ‘shi死’ as the meaning of ‘death’, even though they use different Chinese characters. In the same way, we call 9 as ‘ku九’ in Japanese, which we take as ‘ku苦’ as a meaning of ‘painful’ or ‘distressing’. Therefore, we try to avoid to use these sounds or to have something with these pronunciations. Now, a comb is called as ‘Kushi’ in Japanese, so it has two bad words in Japanese. Have you already noticed? Yes, it means ‘painful’ from ‘Ku苦’ and ‘death’ from ‘Shi死’. Thus, it’s better not to choose this as a gift in general. Nevertheless, if you still wish to choose this for your significant other, you better go for boxwood comb ‘Tsugegushiつげ櫛’, which is for girls actually. It is traditional Japanese comb but it’s strong and long-lasting and the more you use, the more it becomes shiny and stronger. Therefore, it means strong bonds of the relationships!

Japanese Green tea (Nihoncha日本茶)

I guess that most of you are wondering why Japanese green tea is on this list because it is the most favorite and popular tea for Japanese people. You see Japanese green tea everywhere whenever you go in Japan, don’t you? However, it is actually used as a gift for a funeral ceremony in Japan! Therefore, your boyfriend/girlfriend would not like your present thinking of it as a bad fortune, which we say ‘Engi ga warui – 縁起が悪い’. But if he/she likes Japanese green tea very much, there is no problem, you can choose it as their gift! Actually, some tea shops sell gorgeous gift sets of the green tea that we can’t imagine having it as a ‘funeral ceremony’ gift!



Please use this list of “bad gifts” for your information. Not only for Valentine’s Day but also for your someone’s special day! You do know what she or he will like the best, so don’t worry and try to make it special!

Hope you have a lovely valentine’s day in Japan or somewhere outside of it, but with your special person<3