Valentine’s Day is big in Japan. Days leading up to it, stations and stores are filled with carts and counters full of chocolate and sweets.
Flower stores are filled with roses and you may even find some rainbow colored roses. As much as it seems like the same ol’ commercialized holiday, Japan has a little twist to their Valentine’s Day. Supermarkets sells bars of plain chocolates at discounted prices and heart shaped cookie cutters and foiled cups.
In America, you can generally forget seeing your girlfriend if you show up at her doorstep barehanded on Valentine’s Day. On that same day, halfway around the world, females are the ones to give chocolate to their loved ones and friends. Girls make heart shaped chocolates and give them to their crushes, maybe even their fathers, and women to their boyfriends, male friends or co-workers. I get surprised at how many kids actually made (and by make I mean melt and reshape) chocolates for their friends and teachers, and not just buy some to hand out. No candy grams, little Disney Valentine’s Day cards like when I was a kid, but this feels way more heart felt. Of course, once they hit a certain age, the chocolate I got from them were mostly store bought, but I appreciated those just as much.
When I spoke to my friends about my Valentine’s Day plans this year, their responses were funny and definitely unexpected. For one, this year Tokyo has seen so much snow, and guess what day was plagued by another big snowstorm? So when they complained about the snow that wasn’t a surprise but what came next was. “The hotels are all going to be crowded as it is.” By hotels, she was talking about love hotels. In case you don’t know about what they are, they are hotels that allow you to have “short stays” for about two hours. Just enough time you need for a stay at a “love” hotel. They are many themed hotels with vending machines filled with fun toys. I guess with no space and most single young adults living with their parents even into their 30s, it is no surprise that love hotels exist and are popular, especially on Valentine’s Day.
If you think it’s unfair that women are the only ones to have to give yummy treats to guys, don’t worry. In March there’s another day, White Day, where males return the favor. I’m not sure why the rest of the world hasn’t caught on yet, since its double the money to be made. It’s on the 14th of March, which is cute. So ladies, you have to put in a little more effort than showing up on Valentine’s Day, but fear not, March is just around the corner!