Love, Chocolate, and Friendship: A Guide to Valentine’s Day in Japan

While we all associate Valentine’s Day with romantic dinners and roses, things take a unique turn in Japan! Forget men giving chocolates; women take the reins, showering loved ones and even colleagues with sweets. Let’s dive into this fascinating cultural exchange, make some chocolate recommendations, and equip you with essential Japanese phrases.

In Japan, on February 14th, females usually give chocolate to the person they admire. However, the chocolate does not have to be only for the person for whom you have romantic feelings. Below are four types of chocolates you can give during Valentine’s Day!

A Quick Jump To…

The Chocolate Chronicles

  • 本命チョコ Honmei-choco: This is the true love offering reserved for your special someone. Think homemade masterpieces or premium chocolates.
  • 義理チョコ Giri-choco: The “obligation chocolate” given to friends, colleagues, and bosses out of social courtesy. Usually store-bought and less extravagant.
  • 友チョコ Tomo-choco: “Friend chocolate,” exchanged between female friends to celebrate platonic love. Fun and personalized options are popular.
  • 自分チョコ Jibun-choco: Self-love chocolates! There is a growing trend of women treating themselves to delicious treats.

One month after Valentine’s Day’s chocolate frenzy, Japan celebrates another unique event: ホワイトデー Howaito Dē White Day. While February 14th sees women taking the lead with chocolate gifts, March 14th offers men a chance to reciprocate the affection or obligation!

Homemade Chocolate

If you want to challenge yourself with some sweet homemade chocolate, here is what you need to do.

Photo By Lo’s Kitchen


  • Chocolate bar (dark milk or white, depending on your preference): Choose high-quality chocolate with at least cocoa butter content for the best results
  • Cooking oil (vegetable or canola): A little oil helps prevent the chocolate from scorching
  • Optional: Toppings of your choice


  1. Prepare your mold: You can use silicone molds, candy molds, ice cube trays, or even small paper cups lined with plastic wrap. Make sure they are clean and dry
  2. Melt the chocolate: Break the chocolate bar into small pieces and place them in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Avoid letting water get into the chocolate, as this can cause it to seize
  3. Stir gently: Keep stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in a little cooking oil (about ½ teaspoon ) until thoroughly combined
  4. Add your mix-ins: If using, add your chosen mix-ins now and stir gently to distribute them evenly
  5. Pour the chocolate: Carefully pour the melted chocolate into your prepared molds. Fill each mold almost to the top
  6. Refrigerate: Place the molds in the refrigerator for an hour or until the chocolate is set
  7. Unmold and Wrap it Up: Once set, gently pop the chocolates out of the molds wrap your delicious homemade creations, and package them for your loved one

Chocolate Recommendations

In Japan, the most common chocolate bought during Valentine’s Day is

  • ハート型のチョコレート Hāto-gata no chokorēto Heart-shaped Chocolate
  • チョコレートトリュフ chokorētotoryufu Chocolate Truffles
  • イチゴチョコ ichigo choko Chocolate-covered Strawberries
  • チョコレートの詰め合わせ chokorēto no tsumeawase Chocolate Assortment
  • 生チョコレートnamachokorēto Nama Chocolate

Here are some famous chocolate that you can buy:

Meiji Meltykiss Strawberry Chocolate

Photo By Tofu Cute

  • Where to buy: convenience stores, supermarkets, Amazon, online stores
  • Price: 300 yen

Royce Nama Chocolate

Photo By

  • Where to buy: Royce store
  • Price: 864 yen

Godiva Valentines Limited Chocolate 2024 (6pcs)

Photo By Yamibuy

  • Where to buy: Godiva store
  • Price: 3780 yen

Ferrero Rocher (16 pcs)

Photo By eBay

  • Where to buy: convenience stores, supermarkets, Amazon, online stores
  • Price: 1073 yen

Ghana Chocolate

Photo By ZenPop

  • Where to buy: convenience stores, supermarkets, Amazon, online stores
  • Price: 140 yen

Useful Japanese Phrases

  • ハッピーバレンタインデー!Happībarentaindē! – Happy Valentine’s Day!
  • 大好きです。daisukidesu. – I love you.
  • バレンタインデーに、デートしてくれませんか? Barentaindē ni, dēto shite kuremasen ka? – Will you be my Valentine?
  •  チョコレート、ありがとう。Chokorēto, arigatō. – Thank you for the chocolate.
  • このチョコレート、おいしいですね!Kono chokorēto, oishii desu ne! – This chocolate is delicious!

You Might Be Wondering…

Do men give gifts on Valentine's Day in Japan?

Traditionally, no. However, on March 14th, “White Day,” men reciprocate gifts, often three times the value they received!

Do I have to participate in Giri-choco?

No! The pressure is decreasing, and many companies ban it to avoid unwanted advances. Choose what feels comfortable for you.

What kind of chocolate is popular?

Anything goes! From classic truffles to trendy matcha flavors, personalize it to match the recipient.

Are there any other Valentine's Day traditions?

Couples might go on dates, exchange messages, or enjoy special Valentine’s Day menus at restaurants.

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