Participants say that even if a guy were to spend three times as much on a thank-you present, it still wouldn’t be enough.

A few days have passed since Valentine’s Day, so presumably all of the chocolate Japanese men received, whether of the true-love honmei, platonic giri, or even revenge-fueled type, has been eaten. But while the temptation might be to relax and digest those sweet spoils of Japan’s gift-giving culture, the wheel is already beginning to turn, because on March 14 Japan celebrates White Day, when men are expected to give return gifts to the women who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day.

Giving someone a gift to say thank-you for a gift the gave you is a common practice in Japan, with the second-round gift being called okaeshi (literally “return”). For most situations, the okaeshi is something of equal or lesser value to the original gift, but White Day is an exception, and orthodox etiquette says that men should give an okaeshi that’s more expensive than what they received a month earlier.

For years, the oft-expressed rule of thumb has been that a man’s White Day return gift should cost three times as much as the Valentine’s Day chocolate he received. However, a recent survey by Yahoo! Japan Shopping of 1,000 women suggests that some ladies in Japan won’t even be satisfied with a three-fold return on their Valentine’s outlay. The poll’s results showed that for the Kanto, Kinki, and Chubu regions, the most common expectation is a White Day present costing four times what they spent for the man’s Valentine’s Day gift.

▼ Kanto, Kinki, and Chubu regions marked in red

For those not familiar with Japanese geography, the Kanto, Kinki, and Chubu regions are where you’ll find the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, which are easily the largest population centers in the entire country.

While Japan does have plenty of high-priced (and delicious) chocolates, White Day gifts aren’t limited to sweets. Though edibles remain the most common choice for return gifts for platonic giri chocolate, men in a serious romantic relationship will often bundle fashion accessories along with confectionaries in their okaeshi.

Now before you go rushing off to the ATM to pull out even more cash for your White Day shopping, it’s best to bear in mind that Yahoo’s data was compiled from women who felt motivated enough to fill out a survey about how expensive a present they’re hoping for. It’s likely that a lot of Japanese women whose attitude is “I don’t care how much it costs, because it’s the thought that counts” didn’t bother to make their voices heard, thus skewing things towards more expensive results. Still, there’s a decent-sized chance that if your White Day gift hews too close to the cost of what you got for Valentine’s Day, you might come off seeming like a bit of a cheapskate in many women’s eyes.

Source: Yahoo! Japan Shopping press release
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Chibimusu Drill
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he somehow managed to give his wife White Day chocolate before he ever received Valentine’s chocolate from her.

[ Read in Japanese ]