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Important Importables: Valentine’s Day in Japan

by Jenni Lada on Feb 12, 2010 at 08:17 AM
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Valentine’s Day is a day of love and affection in many places around the world. However, the holiday isn’t handled the same way in Japan as it is in the United States and many other countries. Instead, it’s part of a two-part celebration where women show their affection on one day, and men show their affection on a separate, later date.

If you’ve played video games, particularly dating sims like Tokimeki Memorial, watched anime or read manga, you probably already know this. Both the Tokimeki Memorial and Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side games provide fairly accurate reproductions of the affairs. The Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side games all even have mini-games where the main character creates chocolate to give to the guy she’s pursuing. And many anime or manga series that take place in school settings will often feature an episode or chapter devoted to the Valentine’s and White Day traditions.

To help readers better understand how Valentine’s Day, and the complimentary holiday White Day work in Japan, and celebrate Valentine’s Day itself, which is Sunday, Important Importables is going to go over how people in Japan celebrate both holidays.

Valentine’s Day

In Japan, Valentine’s Day falls on February 14 and is primarily about chocolate. But not chocolate for all, chocolate for men. The custom there is for women to present gifts to the men in their lives to show their love and appreciation. And it isn’t just for the man they love, but also for close male friends, family members and coworkers.

The preferred gift is almost always chocolate. For the most important gift, perhaps one for a boyfriend, crush or husband, a woman will get honmei chocolate that is somewhat special, perhaps even homemade. For chocolate that will go to other male associates, giri, they may go with store-bought candy. Sometimes gifts other than chocolate are given, but chocolate is the gift given most often.

If you’re wondering what that image to the right is all about, it’s a scene from Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 2nd Season. The game covers a three year period, and each year before Valentine’s Day, the player has the option to make chocolate as a gift for one of the dateable male characters. You are presented with a bowl of chocolate on the touch screen, and must follow the proper stirring instructions to make the perfect chocolate. You get three chances, so if you don’t get right the first time you don’t have to worry. Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 1st Love has the same mini-game, and I’m sure it will return in the forthcoming Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 3rd Story DS game.

White Day

First, I admit the screenshot above has absolutely nothing to do with White Day. Frankly, I couldn’t find a Tokimeki Memorial screenshot that did. The screenshot above, from Tokimeki Memorial 4 amused me and I figured I’d use that instead.

Now that that’s out of the way, White Day is like Valentine’s Day, except men give return gifts, or gifts in general, and women receive them. White Day always falls on March 14, and started sometime in the 1960’s and 70’s.

When it comes to gifts, and who the gifts are being given to, White Day gets quite different. Where chocolate is the main gift on Valentine’s Day, White Day gifts can be pretty much anything. It could be flowers, candies, food, jewelry, accessories or any kind of special trinket. Also, most men giving White Day gifts tend to only give a present to one women, though sometimes they will also give gifts to more. Additionally, a man may also prepare some kind of small return gifts for for the women who took the time to give him a gift on Valentine’s Day.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables reviews Poupeegirl DS.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables reviewed Final Fantasy Vocal Collections Vol. 2: Love Will Grow.

Read [TIME] Also Read [Japan-Guide.com] Site [Play-Asia] Site [YesAsia] Site [NCSX] Site [Himeya Shop] Site [Strapya World]

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