The long-awaited Valentine’s day is next week.
People celebrate the day very differently in Japan from the way it is celebrated abroad. Here, women are expected to give chocolates to men instead of men and women giving to each other as in the West. However, single men may find this day somewhat harsh and a method of softening the blow was invented for the less fortunate— the ‘Giri Choco,’—chocolates given to men by women friends or colleagues.
Regardless of the way you receive chocolates during this time of year, the amount of consumption is astounding. According to Yahoo! Japan’s Valentine special, in 2005, the seasonal and yearly consumption of chocolate was JPY53 billion and JPY439.9 billion respectively. This means that 12% of the years chocolate consumption took place in just half a month. So it is no surprise to hear that some big stores set up a special area for Valentine’s chocolates and hire temporary workers to deal with the demand. This weekend is the time when shop floors will be packed with lines of women queuing to buy their special gifts.
A recent trend can be seen in the high-end chocolate market. Department stores are targeting the affluent customers by selling expensive imported chocolate, some of which can cost up to JPY9,000 for just 8 pieces. Walking past some shops, you can be forgiven for thinking they are selling luxury jewelry as opposed to extravagant chocolate. However, for those less willing to spend so much, especially for “giri choco,” convenience stores sell cheap alternatives that can save you money whilst ensuring you get a return on White Day— a Japan-unique day when men return the favor and buy the ladies a gift.
For more information on statistics:
The history of the Japanese Valentine’s day:
Other posts by Anna: