Giving chocolate to the people that you have strong feelings for...
How did Japanese-style Valentine's Day get so popular?
About 20% of all chocolate consumed annually in Japan is consumed on Valentine's Day!
The tradition of giving chocolates on Valentine's Day was established in Japan in the latter half of the 1970's. The Mary Chocolate Co. confectionery company started a Valentine's campaign to expand sales of their chocolate, and the tradition has spread since then. For a long time, it was the tradition for women to give their lovers 'honmei choco' (true feelings chocolate), and the men would worry about how to return the favor. There is a worldwide culture of giving gifts to the people you care about on Valentine's Day, but it is rare that the present is limited to just chocolate.
Honmei choco → Giri choco ・ Tomo choco・Gyaku choco・Jibun choco
The way to give Valentine's Day presents has changed over time.
In addition to honmei choco, women will also purchase 'giri choco' (obligation chocolate) for other men that they are acquainted with, such as friends of friends. 'Tomo choco' (Friend chocolate) is sent to closer friends, and 'Gyaku choco' (return chocolate) is purchased by men for women on Valentine's Day, which is unique in Japan, as men will normally give chocolate on White Day, which is exactly one month later on March 14th. 'Jibun choco' (Personal chocolate) is purchased as a gift to yourself. The variety of ways that you can give great gifts to those close to you has changed a lot over time!
In recent years, many new kinds of presents are given out!
As February 14th draws near, local shops start to sell nothing but chocolate. People who visit Japan around this time will be able to try a variety of excellent chocolate. As Valentine's Day is a day of giving gifts, many companies will be selling not only chocolate, but other special items that you should check out.