Memo to guys: White Day's approaching

Memo to guys: White Day's approaching A White Day display at Tokyo Midtown

TOKYO —

Guys who received lots of chocolates on Valentine’s Day might think they don’t have to give anything in return. Wrong. In Japan, White Day – March 14 – is a big day for women who gave chocolates to the men in their lives. That’s when those men are supposed to return the favor, usually in the form of chocolate along with some other gifts such as watches or accessories.

The value of White Day gifts is supposed to be double or even triple (“sanbai-gaeshiin”) that of the gifts a guy received on Feb 14.

How did the White Day custom start anyway? It is a unique event in Japan, launched by the National Confectionery Industry Association (NCIA) in 1978 to sell more confectionery, of course. When the Valentine’s Day custom of “giri-choco” (obligation chocolate) became popular in Japan, some bright marketing man (or woman) decided that there was a strong consensus among young women that guys should be given an opportunity to give something in return to women.

Thus, the NCIA created a catchphrase “White Day is a sweet day” to create a recognizable day on the Japanese calendar.

But there is another story regarding the origin of White Day in Japan. In 1977, Ishimura Manseido, a confectionery shop in Fukuoka, started to sell white marshmallows and called March 14 “Marshmallow Day.” Their marshmallows included chocolate inside and the brand’s advertising message was “I will return your chocolate covered in my gentleness” (a reference to marshmallow’s softness).

Though White Day originated in Japan, it was exported to South Korea and Taiwan, where they additionally started “Black Day” on March 14. It is a day for singles to get together wearing black to comfort each other over not getting any gift either on Valentine’s Day or White Day.

  • 5

    Mocheake

    Memo to headline writer: we know.

  • 3

    zenkan

    Memo to the human race: (1) you do not need one day of the year to celebrate your love for another (2) one piece of chocolate will not transform a complete stranger (or casual acquaintance) into "the chosen one".

  • 0

    WealthBuilderBiz

    Memo to Mocheake: You just made my day! :-)

  • -3

    Lilic

    Easter and Christimas combined holiday? Only in Japan

  • 1

    TorafusuTorasan

    Memorandum to all male office staff. If you start your weekend a day early, you will be able to buy White Day stuff at half price over the weekend and present it to the OLs on Monday (with the hangaki tags removed, of course).

    This is the peak allergy season, and if you are like most workers, you have more than half your vacation days remaining, so why not get started on that doctors note right now.

  • -3

    smithinjapan

    I give chocolates and/or gifts on Valentine's Day, out of love and/or friendship. I don't buy into the strictly commercial, obligatory garbage. So, no, no White Day returns from me.

  • 3

    kolohe

    What poop White Day and Valentine's Day are in Japan! All the companies that I've worked for in Japan -- three in the course of 25 years -- have all banned such practice. I'm glad they did. The women, who make up only a quarter of the staff, complained that they had to buy so much chocolate for all the men.

  • -5

    gogogo

    Gave mine on Valentines day like the rest of the world.

  • 4

    Noliving

    I give chocolates and/or gifts on Valentine's Day, out of love and/or friendship. I don't buy into the strictly commercial, obligatory garbage.

    Are you not already buying into the strictly commercial obligatory garbage from western culture by buying chocolates and or gifts on Valentine's Day to express your love?

  • -3

    KariHaruka

    In the west for a lot of people (the younger generation) the 14th March means something totally different.

  • 1

    dcog9065

    I give chocolates and/or gifts on Valentine's Day, out of love and/or friendship. I don't buy into the strictly commercial, obligatory garbage. So, no, no White Day returns from me.

    Uh, what? I hope you remembered to buy a nice Hallmark card from the new 2014 Spring selection with your chocolates on Valentine's Day.

  • -1

    taj

    In the west for a lot of people (the younger generation) the 14th March means something totally different.

    Pi Day?

    Nah, you must mean something else. Pi is a constant; neither young nor western. To what could you be referring?

  • 0

    KariHaruka

    Minus 3? Geez some people really need to learn to lighten up a bit.

    Pi Day? Nah, you must mean something else. Pi is a constant; neither young nor western. To what could you be referring?

    Go to google and type in 'alternative to 14th March'. You'll get your answer with the top 2 results.

  • -1

    kaimycahl

    Another "SWEET" payday for chocolate manufactures!

  • 0

    Annie Perriment

    Remember, the audience for this website includes ignorant westerners like myself. I never heard of White Day or obligation chocolates from women to men for Valentine's Day until I started reading this website. Fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture (or certain industry's ability to manipulate said culture for additional revenue). All we have here in the US after Valentine's Day is St. Patrick's Day coming up on the 17th. Chocolate is not usually involved although chocolate companies usually offer something Irish-themed for sale around this time - like Shamrock-shaped chocolates wrapped in green foil. Just about everyone wears green whether they have any Irish ancestry or not. My mom used to put green food coloring in my milk when I was a kid and many families eat corned beef and cabbage (always thought the stuff was vile as a kid but now it is okay).

  • 1

    taj

    KariHaruka, I see that alternate now. Are there really bloks who want to designate that to one day of the year? ;-)

    Happy Pi Day, everyone!

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