Last month, we looked at the unique way in which Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Japan. Women give “giri” chocolates to their male friends and colleagues at work. “Giri” refers to obligation or duty. When Japanese people receive gifts, they feel they have to pay back the kindness or give something in return.
In the case of Valentine’s Day, that means guys have to return the favor on White Day, which falls on March 14.
Young women tend to prefer sweets as a return gift from men. In the past, they would be pleased to receive Godiva chocolates or some other high-end brand. However, recently, women appreciate handmade sweets as well. Media such as J-Cast and Nikkei Women have been reporting on the latest trend.
According to a survey conducted by Ageil Media Network in 2010, 66% of women answered that they would prefer to receive handmade sweets on White Day in return for having given “giri-choco.” They said it shows men’s diligence and that they understand women’s feelings.
Also, 63% of men said they would try to make sweets by themselves for White Day.
Perhaps this trend has accelerated due to the increasing media coverage of men who are opting to stay at home to look after their children and do housework. Dubbed “ikumen” (fathers or husbands who actively participate in housework and raising their children) by the media, they are considered an attractive catch for young women.
One woman quoted in the Ageil Media survey said, “Receiving store-bought sweets is boring. I’d like something original made by a guy.” Another commented, “That’s an awesome idea. I would be so happy if I received such warm-hearted sweets. You can’t put a price on a gift from the heart which is much better than any expensive jewelry.”
For guys who are proud of their sweets-making skills, there is a competition called “White Day Daisakusen: Ikeotoko eno michi” (White Day Strategy: The way of cool men). Find out more about the contest at http://www.choco-recipe.jp/milk/recommend/ikedan_cp/index.php