In Japan, women give chocolate to men on Valentine’s Day, but are guys going to get what they really want?

With Valentine’s Day almost here, many of Tokyo’s department stores had special chocolate fairs last week, with dozens of confectioners setting up booths to pass out samples and sell their wares. Walking through one of them and munching on sweets, I was happy for the opportunity to take advantage of my full-grown-adult-freedom to spoil my appetite, but I couldn’t help but find something a little ironic.

In Japan, the custom is for women to give chocolate to men on Valentine’s Day. But while all those fancy store-bought varieties from domestic and overseas chocolatiers were tasty, personally I don’t really think anything can compare to the joy of receiving home-made chocolate from a girl you’ve got a crush on.

Shining further light on this gap is a survey by IBJ, a Japanese company that specializes in matchmaking services for singles thinking about marriage. IBJ polled 2,594 unmarried people over the age of 20 (1,493 women and 1,072 men) about their Valentine’s Day chocolate plans and preferences. When asked what kind of chocolate they’d be giving year, the vast majority of the women, 75,8 percent, said they’d be giving store-bought varieties, with just 24.2 percent going to the trouble of making, and giving, home-made sweets.

Meanwhile, the men were asked which they’d be happier to receive, and their responses were almost the complete opposite. 69.5 percent of men said they’d be happier home-made chocolate, with only 16.9 percent hoping for store-bought and the remainder indifferent.

However, the divide between the sexes might not be quite as wide as the numbers initially suggest. Just about all women in Japan give what’s called giri choco (“obligation chocolate”) as a platonic means of saying thank-you to male coworkers, friends, and social acquaintances. Giri choco is almost always of the store-bought variety, while home-made chocolate more often implies romantic feelings, or at least an attraction.

Taking that into consideration, at least some of the 75.8 percent of women who’re planning to give store-bought chocolate simply aren’t in a relationship that warrants giving home-made chocolate at the moment. On the other hand, the men in the survey were asked a hypothetical question about what sort of chocolate they’d prefer, and given that receiving home-made chocolate often implies that a girl is at least sort of into you, it’s no surprise that 69.5 percent of the single men who were polled would like to know there’s a girl out there with feelings for them.

The survey had one more Valentine’s Day question for the guys. For years, Japanese men who received chocolate on Valentine’s Day have given a gift in return on March 14, which is called White Day in Japan. In recent years, though, a small subset of guys in Japan have started a trend of “reverse chocolate” by giving sweets to women on Valentine’s Day. While such men are still a definite minority in the population, 16.9 percent of the male survey participants said they’ve given reverse chocolate. No word on whether they were hand-made or not, though.

Source: PR Times
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’d like to thank his wife for the home-made Valentine’s Day chocolate last year.

[ Read in Japanese ]