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Valentine's Day and White Day in Japan
Valentine's Day and White Day in Japan
Valentine's Day and White Day in Japan

We have written an editorial about Valentine’s Day which can be used as a helpful precursor to this article. Please read it as this editorial follows the assumption that you understand the tradions and origin of Valentine’s Day in Japan. Click Here to Read Valentine’s Day in Japan.

Every year on February 14th, many nations including Japan celebrates Valentine’s Day (Barentain Dei / バレンタイン デー ). It is a day where many people show affection to one another and in Japan, it is a day where women show affection towards men, instead of men showing affection to women like their western counterparts. Valentine’s Day is a day where women give chocolate to men and there’s another thing that really differs from their American counterpart, and this day happens a month after Valentine’s Day.

This day is called White Day ( Howaito Dē / ワイトデー and occurs every year on March 14th. White Day holds all of the admiration and love of its predecessor but is intended to be aimed at the men to express themselves after the women have had their chance.

Japan's Valentine's Day is Different
The biggest differences between the Valentine’s Day you and I know and the holiday celebrated in Japan is that it is not always a spouse or significant other giving gifts to each other but also by social obligations. Such situations may include your boss, father in law or even just your friends. This holiday was started sometime in 1977-78 by a company of the name Ishimuramanseido who marketed marshmallows to men, calling the day Marshmallow Day (Mashumaro Dē / マシュマロデー). It was later adopted as White day after the production of white chocolate became commonplace. Today it is not uncommon for any chocolate or present to be gifted such as jewelry and family heirlooms but is commonly used by men to return the affection to the one that they like the most.

Expectations of Men
Men are expected to return the chocolate value times three which is referred to as sanbai gaeshi 三倍返し.The traditions of White day are all very similar to that of its sibling holiday except the gifts are mostly white, though not required to be. Some may believe that holidays like these only serve to have corporations milk your emotions to feel bad about not spending money on your friends or family but there are just as many who take this opportunity to make the people we care for feel more appreciated.

As long as you gift from your heart, the monetary value becomes irrelevant. Those of different genders or preferences will celebrate these two days however they want and those whom are gay will often call White Day as White Gay.

The Controversies
Controversy does exist for both Valentine’s Day and White Day, despite them being seen as “Hallmark” holidays, every year it would seem that protesters will be seen on the news denouncing the celebration of either or both holidays. Recently, there have been some expectations for White Day where intercourse is almost expected on that day. It’s not a mandatory expectation but only what has been set as a trendy expectation by today’s teens and young adults.

Even with such controversies gaining more momentum every year, Japan remains the biggest purchaser of chocolate goods in the world and continues to break records every year.

Please be sure to read our other editorial, Valentine’s Day in Japan, it is an excellent editorial that goes into great detail about the different types of chocolate and history behind Valentine’s Day.

Photos provided by Brent 2.0, Mr. Hayata and Ewen Roberts
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