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Japanese Valentine's Day, The History of Giri Choco

We are happy to share with you in our blog some cultural habits of Japan that may be unknown to you.

As Valentine's Day is fast approaching, we are going to talk about "giri choco", have you ever heard of it?

Valentine's Day started in Japan in the 1950s as the day when women declared their love to men by giving them chocolates on February 14. It was also a day of competition for the school boys who judged themselves on the quantity of chocolates they could receive from the girls.

There are two types of chocolate gifts for Valentine's Day in Japan, "honmei choco" and "giri choco".

"Honmei choco" is the original meaning of chocolate on Valentine's Day, which is to declare your love to one lucky person. That is the real celebration of this day!

"Giri choco" is a cultural phenomenon that only exists in Japan. In the 1980s, this tradition expanded and the Japanese began to offer chocolate to people close to them to thank them as a sign of appreciation. We called it "giri choco" because "giri" means "courtesy" in Japanese.

Over the years, the custom of "giri choco" had become an unspoken obligation that every woman had to give chocolate to her male colleagues. Another tradition was created that men had to return the favour of gift giving to the women on March 14, that became known as "White Day". The Japanese are known to be shy by nature, so companies thought that encouraging this tradition was a good way to create more interaction between men and women in the workplace.

If, nowadays, mentalities are changing and this tradition is debated, "giri choco" remains a day eagerly awaited like Halloween or Christmas and, each year, Japanese chocolate makers compete in creativity to offer new forms and new flavours of chocolates for the "honmei choco" and the "giri choco".

In the photo, we have an assortment of chocolates with Japanese ingredients from the Japanese chocolatier "Les trois chocolats" in Paris, and they are presented on a small Mino ware plate with asanoha (hemp leaf) pattern, from our Maison Sato selection.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Atsushi Sato

Maison Sato

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