White Day – making Japanese women wait a month for chocolate

It’s been a month since Valentine’s Day. The choco-mania in Japan isn’t over by a long shot.

Get your tastebuds ready, it’s White Day!

How much Valentine's chocolate did you get this year?

Why today?

White Day is always exactly a month after Valentine’s, on March 14th. Guys who received sweets from ladies back in February get to – sorry, have to – return the favour.

That’s assuming they’re still together. Or even still friends. Westerners don’t always know how White Day works. No gift from a girl? Delete her number and hit the gym.

And she could be hurting, too. Not because of you. When you’re used to getting chocolate on Valentine’s, waiting until March is torture.


Most guys will pay for it. Like, really pay for it. The typical advice is to spend 3x more than your Valentine did. For ‘just friends’, spend what they spent. Take the cheap option at your own risk. Women know this. Good luck beating that gift she bought you. Try not to cry when you Google how much it’s worth.

Say ‘White Day’ in Japanese, and it sounds like ‘why today?’ The ‘crap, I’m in trouble’ cry of despair when you remember what the date is.

Culture chocs

Other countries celebrate White Day, too. Like China, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. In Japan, it’s a very long-standing and respected tradition. Dating back to… 1978. Yeah, barely 40 years.

And guess who thought up White Day in the first place? Why, only a company that makes sweets. That’s not suspicious at all. On the other hand, all the execs were men. No female agenda being pushed here. Just merch.

You’ve got to get White Day right, guys

Brands make the effort to keep sales up for White Day. A lot of effort. Check out fancy chocolatier Godiva Japan’s website. Remember: your White Day present doesn’t have to be white.

When it comes to chocolate, we don't discriminate.

Sanrio’s helping men prove they can multi-task with Easter-themed White Day sweets. “What do you mean, this is also my Easter gift – hey, the bag looks like a bunny! Cute!” Said no woman ever.

If your lady friend isn’t so into chocolate, you’ve got choices. This year, the Hankyu department store’s selling ‘marsh-choco’. Chocolate-flavoured marshmallows filled with fruit jam. For the man who wants to make his girl just plain sick rather than lovesick.

Other options: macarons AND macaroons, biscuits, cakes, shortbread, or hard candy. It’s rumoured these sweets have different meanings. Say it with cookies – if you want to say ‘let’s just be friends’.

We're not saying it *has* to be chocolate, but it helps.

Thinking outside the gift box

Got competition this year? Try handing over a more, uh, unique White Day present instead.

Like… the biggest pile of corn snacks anyone’s ever seen.

Let’s assume your favourite woman doesn’t fancy food. Rakuten Japan’s selection of bags, purses and lingerie has you covered. The chance of finding something that doesn’t cost 3 times as much as chocolate is basically zero.

The other place you can look is… the Japan Post Office. Their helpful list of ‘return gifts’ includes toasters, blenders, and waffle makers. And they’ll take care of delivery.

Think of it like an investment – you could end up getting a better Valentine gift next year. Or a waffle maker to the head. No guarantees.

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