Yes, the Japanese do celebrate Valentines. However, Valentines in Japan is a lot more different than your preexisting idea of Valentine’s day should be.
In Japan, you need not bother yourself about what to buy for Valentine’s Day Gift. The present must be chocolate in 9 cases out of 10. Unlike the West, it is Japanese tradition that women will give men gifts of chocolate on this day.
Valentine with a Twist
At this time every year a working girl in Japan worries about whether or not to give a gift of chocolate to her superior at work. Even though she is not particularly interested in him, she feels anxious about what he thinks of her, if she doesn’t give a gift while other girls give. Usually she comes to a conclusion that she had better give some to her chief. The gift given in this manner is called Giri Choco (義理チョコ), translated as “obligation chocolate”.
Honmei Choco (本命チョコ), or “prospective winner chocolate”, is reserved for the men that are special in a woman’s life. She may buy honmei-choco for close family members, her boyfriend, or her husband. Honmei-choco gifts are made of more expensive chocolate, and often consist of chocolates molded in the shape of something the recipient enjoys, for example, golf-balls.
A little trivial – if you think it is lucky for men in Japan, think again. Men who received chocolates on Valentine’s day are supposed to give gifts back to the women on March 14th called White Day 🙂