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The World's Surprise! Japanese Style Valentine's Day

How did the custom of women gifting chocolates to men begin in Japan?  Konnichiwa from the Japan Culinary Institute (JCI) in Japan! Thank you for reaching us to those interested in learning about Japanese cuisine, culture, and Washoku! It's already February this year and speaking of February, there's an upcoming event that's got our attention! Valentine's Day, or "Lovers' Day," is a regular February 14. In Japan, "chocolates" are sold here and there in the streets in February, and a Valentine's Day business battle unfolds. At this time of the year, it's the women who are shopping for chocolates! Yes, Valentine's Day in Japan is a day for women to give chocolates to men and confess their love. How did this Japanese style of Valentine's Day come into existence and take root?  And why did we start giving chocolates?  Through the Japanese Valentine's Day context, you can get a glimpse into the mindset of today's Japanese and the Japanese culture in reality! Table of Contents 1. How did "Japanese Valentine's Day" come about? 2. The unique evolution of Valentine's Day in Japan 3. The trend of chocolate in Japan  4. Summary

1. How did "Japanese Valentine's Day" come about?

↑ Valentine's Day Changes from Place to Place? We know that Valentine's Day is a Western custom based initially on a Christian anecdote. On Valentine's Day in Europe and the United States, lovers, couples, and families usually give each other gifts to express their gratitude and love. Also, chocolates are not the primary and standard gift, but rather gifts such as message cards, bouquets, jewelry, etc., and chocolates are just an accessory. We will now explain when and how Japan's original Valentine's Day custom of women giving chocolates to men began. There are many stories, but it is known that Morozov, a confectionery company in Kobe (named after the Russian co-owner), introduced the "giving chocolates on Valentine's Day" style for the first time in Japan in 1932. The following year, Morozov's advertisement for chocolates for Valentine's Day appeared in an English-language newspaper for foreigners (photo below).

←Classic advertisement reminiscent of those days (Photo provided by Morozov Corporation) On the other hand, it was not until the 1960s that the "women give gifts to men=confess her love to a men" method took root. In 1959, chocolate manufacturer Merry released heart-shaped chocolates, which attracted a lot of attention and increased the awareness of Valentine's Day. In Japan, it is rare for a woman to take the initiative to confess her love to a man. Therefore, the catch copy, "Once a year, a woman can confess her love to a man," captured the hearts of women at the time. The reason is that Japanese people are very shy compared to people in the West. Nowadays, it is not unusual for a woman to confess her love to a man. Still, at that time, it took a lot of courage for a woman to confess her love to a man. So, the "Valentine's Day strategy" was a perfect way to encourage women to confess their love.

↑ 2022 Valentine's Day products from Morozov, the pioneer of Valentine's Day in Japan Since then, many confectionery companies have promoted the "chocolate on Valentine's Day" sales strategy. By the 1970s, it had spread from teenagers to adult women. In this way, Japanese Valentine's Day was created by the distribution and candy industries, which wanted to promote sales by incorporating new Valentine's Day customs from overseas into Japan. In addition, you can say that the unique Valentine's Day culture has grown up because of Japan's lack of religious ties.

2. The unique evolution of Valentine's Day in Japan