Romance or Obligation this Valentine’s Day?

The sweetest time of the year! …Or is it?

Valentine’s Day is recognized internationally as a day that people exchange cards and gifts as a sign of affection. In Japan, as with many facets of Japanese life, Valentine’s day has taken on a local flavor including strict societal expectations. For this round of Asia Express, we look at the phenomena of Valentine’s day in Japan; the local eccentricities and customs…and try and find out if the people themselves actually enjoy them.

On Valentine’s Day in Japan, women are expected to offer chocolate to men in their lives; including husbands, male friends, co-workers and bosses. The giving of chocolate to men with no romantic connotations is known as “giri-choco” – or Obligation Chocolates! On average, we found that 60% of women will give chocolate to 4-5 people on Valentine’s day. Men are expected to offer a return gift on “white day” (March 14 – exactly a month after Valentine’s).

Nearly a quarter of women surveyed will hand make chocolates for Valentine’s day, while 18% are not sure if they will buy or make them. When broken down by age group, 46% of women in their 20’s will hand make chocolates, falling to 10% in their 50’s and 3% in their 60’s. (Table 1.)

Table 1 – Q: (Amongst Females who will give chocolates) How will you prepare the chocolates that you give this Valentine’s day? (n=259)
How will you prepare the chocolates that you give this Valentine’s day?

When asking men about how they feel about receiving chocolates on Valentine’s day, a whopping 43% said that they do not want to receive any. (Table 2)

Table 2 – Q. Do you want to receive chocolates this Valentine’s day? (n=500)

Most interesting is the reasons that men give as to why they do not want to receive any chocolates. 44% indicated that the main reason is that it is a pain to return the favor! (Table 3)

Table 3 – What is the main reason that you do not want to receive chocolates on Valentine’s day? (n=217)

Who said chivalry is dead?

■Survey Details
Sample size: n=1000 balanced to census
Fieldwork timing: January 24th 2017

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