バレンタインデー Valentine’s day.
チョコ choco, or チョコレート chocolate.
Somehow, Valentine’s day got adopted into Japanese culture in the mid 1900s. But it is a bit different than what you see in the US. It is tradition for girls to give chocolates to men… not the other way around! Well, not until White day which is the reverse Valentine’s where guys give small presents (not necessarily chocolate) to the girls that gave them chocolates on Valentine’s day.
But not all chocolate is equal. There is honmei 本命 (true love) chocolate for the guy you like best; this is either high-end chocolate or homemade chocolate. Then there is giri 義理 chocolate, which is “obligation” chocolate that you give to guys you know (and are just friends or acquaintances with). This is usually just cute little regular chocolates. There is lately a third category, known as tomo 友 chocolate, which means “friend” chocolate. Sometimes girls may buy small chocolates for their friends (girls or guys).
In my lab, I am the only girl, so the burden sort of falls on me. I buy giri chocolate for the members in my lab. On White day, they usually buy chocolates for the whole lab in return.
Right now, the stores are lined with all types of fancy chocolates, as well as items for baking the perfect chocolate treat with cute trimmings. You can even buy some cheap stuff at the Daiso (100yen store) to really cute up your chocolates. Soon, it will all be replaced by cute girly items, some chocolates, handkerchiefs, and other small items for White day.