Romantic vs Obligatory? Love culture in Japan on St Valentine’s Day

Feb 14, 2022


There are many types of love, such as family love, romantic love and love for animals and nature. And in Japan, you can see another type of love on St. Valentine’s Day. This is called ‘giri’- obligatory love in literal translation but rather social courtesy in more natural English. First, I will explain the romantic love and then ‘giri’ love on St Valentine’s Day in Japan.


Who express love on 14th of February in Japan, men or women? Actually, this is the day that women express their love to men. Normally they give chocolates.


For a couple, a female partner expresses love to her male partner. And the singles also become active. In general, it is still not strongly supported for women to be active in initiating a romantic relationship in Japan. And it’s the day for those women to take action to someone with their true love - ‘honmei’. Therefore, this chocolate is called ‘honmei choco’


About ‘giri’ love, again women express it to men. This is love as gratitude for men who take care of her usually, or sometimes love with mercy for lonely men on St. Valentine’s Day. Therefore, this chocolate is called ‘giri choco’. These are often for the boss and the colleagues at work, for the teacher and the classmates at school, and for their father and brothers at home.


For ‘honmei choco’ some women give hand-made chocolate or chocolate cake. Because people tend to feel love from hand-made things in Japan. Obviously, it takes time and effort for making it. In this way, they can maximise their expression of love.


By the way, I have heard people feel pleased to receive ‘giri choco’ than not to. What do you think about the idea of ‘giri choco’? Do people give ‘it’ in your country? Do you want to give or receive ‘it’? It would be great if this article makes you think and feel something new in your life.


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