Japan’s White Day ( ホワイトデー )

white day

Photo courtesy aringoaday.com

As we have already established, Valentine’s Day (Februaury 14th) in Japan is observed by females giving chocolates to the males in their lives (be it out of love, obligation or courtesy).

However, one month later (March 14th), the reverse occurs: the males who were fortunate to receive either honmei-choco ( chocolate of love) or giri-choco ( courtesy chocolate) on Valentine’s Day; return the girls’ gestures with gifts of their own.

Considered a a day of return; it is called “White Day ” ( ホワイトデー Howaito Dē).


Gifts and sanbai gaeshi (三倍返し)


white day cartoon

Photo courtesy: http://www.japantimes.co.jp  ( I had to share this clever strip!)

Looking for some White Day gifts to purchase but have no idea what to get? Here is a list of some of the most popular presents given on this day:

  • White Chocolate
  • Jewelry
  • Flowers
  • Marshmallows
  • Sentimental Gifts
  • White Clothing / Lingerie

These gifts are normally packaged in white boxes and may come with stylish, white bags to put them in.

To avoid any awkward situations from occuring; please do not give clothing / lingerie to anyone who:

  • is NOT your wife
  • is NOT your girlfriend
  • gave you obligation chocolate
  • gave you courtesy chocolate

This is a V E R Y personal gift. Please use caution!

But before you run out to purchase your gifts, there is a general rule of thumb that males adhere to on this day…. and it is that of sanbai gaeshi (三倍返し): the returning present should be three times the cost of the Valentine’s gift!

This is the main reason why the prices of white chocolate and other favoured items are observed to be more expensive around this date…sorry guys!

And, if as a guy you think there is a possibility of using the excuse that, “I forgot,” would suffice… think again.

Soon after Valentine’s Day, everywhere one looks, there is some sort of reminder that White Day is fast approaching. Supermarkets, department stores, train stations, television, popular bakeries and confectioneries all over Japan have advertisements, products and other reminders about White Day …. so there is no running away from it!


History of White Day


white-day-1Uniquely Japanese, it is sadly a fairly recent celebration created in 1978 by the National Confectionery Industry Association to boost sales and revenue.

Initially, it was called ‘Marshmallow Day‘ (マシュマロデー Mashumaro Dē). This was due to the marketing of marshmallows to men by the Japanese confectioner company called Ishimuramanseido.

However, marshmallows were not as well-liked, and soon the gift of choice changed to chocolate… but white chocolate to keep with the theme of “white”. This in turn, eventually led to the day being renamed as “White Day”.

Although this day is of Japanese innovation; its popularity has allowed it to spread to neighbouring East Asian countries like China, South Korea and Taiwan.

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