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Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan

Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan

March the 14th is a special day in Japan. It is White Day, in Japanese  ホワイトデ Howaito Dē.

On this date the MALE gender is well advised to return the gift-giving which they have received from Japanese females onValentine’s Day.

That’s right.

On Valentine’s Day the GIRLS give gifts to the GUYS. They buy (or make) chocolate presents to give to work colleagues, male friends and dads which is called giri choco (obligatory chocolate).

The boyfriends get honmei choco  (love chocolate) which is slightly more elaborate candy or expensive chocolate. Sometimes it is something to wear or a present that has been hand crafted.

On White Day the favour is returned by the guys. Now on this day the rule of sanbai gaeshi (return three times) applies. That basically means that the gift must be at least double the size and cost than what has been received on February 14th. Expensive French or Belgian confectionery will leave a good impression. Lingerie and jewellery will get bonus points.

What did WE do on those days?

Well I was writing this post and we

…don’t celebrate Valentines. I am never quite sure if rainbow coloured roses have not been cultivated next to a nuclear reactor and somehow I can sense a commercialized conspiracy of candy corporations, the greeting card industry and flowery florists.

In fact, White Day was established in 1978 by the Japanese candy industry (to buy white sweets for the girls) and the whereabouts of Valentine’s day are yet somewhat more fascinating.

Valentine, an early Christian, was executed for performing Christian weddings during ancient Roman times. Before his execution he wrote a farewell letter to a beloved (?) girl.

A few hundred years later a pope declares Valentine a Saint and February 14th a holiday. The dimensions to celebrate martyrdom are somewhat amazing (I mean look at Easter). However, over the years hand written Valentines have evolved into mass produced Valentine’s greeting cards.

Here goes mine. Hand-typed.

It may come as no surprise to you that Tomek happens to be my chosen Valentine.

[Do not continue to read if you are put off by horribly honeyed confessions. Scroll down to the very end for useful Valentine’s tips.]

Tomek deserves a love letter. This is what this blog is. One big statement of love and the only way I am able to write posts.

Tomek has to put up with a lot (that is a lot of me), he is working hard to provide for our nomadic yet very comfortable life style, he has to face my endless ideas of creativity and about a million projects I have in mind which never get finished, he is helping out with commonly encountered IT problems (marrying an IT pro did make me an IT pro’s wife, disappointingly not turning me into one) and he is constantly thrown into my chaotic mess of a wanna-be blogger, artist, ballet dancer/yoga master and my other visions of desirable professions after I quit my job as a dedicated speech therapist in Germany.

I was trying to fix hopeless cases of family tragedies and disorders in Cologne – now I am trying to fix my own tragedy of indecisiveness and orientation disorder in travelled cities. (I am still wearing the Miss-Orientation title my friend Mimi, a dedicated remedial teacher gave me while we were trying to find our way to a typical therapy Hausbesuch.)

Back to Valentine’s Day.

All the things Tomek and I have seen, all the things we share, the weird language and understanding we developed (disturbing but true – talking gibberish is an indication that our relationship is going just fine, in case someone is worried), all the things we build (like sandcastles) and all we have been through (the excitements of a perpetual traveler’s life – recently how to flush a Japanese public toilet) makes me realize how incredibly lucky we are.

For more Valentine’s cheesiness I will just upgrade my Valentine’s card and go for some visual kitsch to fit mandatory customs:

Valentine’s photo-editing and… this sight makes me forget chocolate.

valentine's card with sexy man's torso in bed

Happy Valentine’s! Why today? Because really, everyday can be Valentine’s day!


The useful starts here:

Dear reader, if you are struggling with Valentine’s ideas for your loved one, be inspired by these cool cards from Wes Anderson:

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