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With the exception of the girls at a few high schools with especially generous male student bodies, women don’t usually receive presents for Valentine’s Day in Japan. Instead, it’s the guys who get gifts, returning the favor one month later on March 14, White Day.

But while guys’ Valentine’s Day aspirations are pretty standardized (just about everyone wants homemade chocolate), the options are a little more flexible for White Day. A recent survey asked Japanese women just what they hope to receive, and how much they envision guys spending.

The survey of 1,000 men and women, aged 20 to 59, was conducted by Yahoo! Japan, which aside from its general Internet portal operations also runs a sizeable online shopping network. Starting things off was a question just for the ladies: What White Day present will make you think better of the guy who gave it to you?

The results indicate that White Day is becoming as much about sweets as Valentine’s Day, with desserts accounting for four of the top five answers. At number five was cookies (28.7 percent of respondents), with fashion accessories at 36.1 percent being the only non-edible present in the top five.

▼ Even if they’re shaped like fried eggs, these earrings don’t count as food.

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Getting back to delectables, cake was third on the list at 36.7 percent, and just barely edged out by chocolate at 36.8. The top answer? Sweets that were either just released, or are only available for a limited time, which was the most popular choice by far at 42.3 percent.

Unfortunately, these expectations didn’t necessarily jive with what the men who were surveyed are actually planning to buy. Cookies and chocolate were the top responses (at 36.6 and 30 percent, respectively), but cake, despite being number four on their list, only made up 13.8 percent of answers. New and limited-edition sweets were even lower, at just 11.4 percent, which is likely a result of men being less likely to keep their ear to the ground regarding dessert-based news than the women they’re buying gifts for. The biggest gap, though, was with accessories, with just 3.2 percent of men saying they’re going to give someone a ring, necklace, or the like.

▼ Meanwhile, men’s number three response, “candies” (13.8 percent) wasn’t even in women’s top 10.

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As we said, on Valentine’s Day, guys are happiest with homemade sweets from the girl they’re sweet on. Most Japanese men aren’t that skilled or experienced when it comes to cooking up confectionaries, though, which means White Day gifts are generally store-bought, with a lot of marketers and media outlets claiming they should be more expensive than the value of what the guy received on Valentine’s Day. Once again, the survey asked women how expensive of an item would make them feel positively towards the gift-giving guy.

While just 10.6 percent said a gift of equal value would raise their opinion of the guy, that reaction jumps to 43.6 percent with a White Day gift double the cost of the Valentine’s Day one. Shelling out for something three times as expensive would impress more than half, 53.2 percent, of the respondents, and blowing right past that for something four times as expensive would put the man in better standing with 55.7 percent of the ladies.

Considering that in another recent survey, an overwhelming majority of Japanese women said they’d choose an ugly millionaire over a handsome yet unemployed guy, you might expect these figures to continue climbing and climbing, with a bigger monetary outlay leading to even more esteem. That’s not the case though, as four times the cost of the Valentine’s Day gift seems to be the sweet spot. Survey respondents were slightly less enthusiastic about receiving a gift five times or more in value, with only 52 percent saying it would make their (White) day.

It’s also worth noting that while the women said they’d be happy to be showered with gifts far more expensive than what they themselves had given, it doesn’t mean they necessarily expect extravagant generosity from the guys. More than 80 percent of the women polled said they expect their White Day gifts to be under 1,500 yen (US$12.70) in value, with the average predicted price tag a modest 1,159 yen.

▼ The average expected White Day gift costs less than this T-shirt from ultra-reasonable retailer Uniqlo.

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And just in case all this talk of yen amounts has you thinking all the women of Japan are cunning gold-diggers, the survey also asked women under what conditions they’d be happy receiving a White Day gift of the same, or even less, value than what they gave for Valentine’s Day. The majority, 52.8 percent, said they’d think better of a guy who went to the trouble of going to a store out of his way or special ordering the gift, and 51.2 percent said they’d be happy with something that matches their tastes, regardless of price.

So in the end, maybe there’s really no need to break out your calculator when shopping for White Day, as long as you put a little effort and thought into choosing the gift.

Source: Nikkei Woman Online via Jin
Top image: Sozai Site
Insert images: Fake Food Hatanaka, Cone Xions, Uniqlo