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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Japan Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Japanese holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 5- "Valentine’s Day."
Valentine's Day is celebrated throughout the world on February 14th. In Japan, it’s a major event for women because it’s the day when women give chocolate to men and confess their love. The fact that women give chocolate to men, and not vice-versa, is a custom unique to Japan.
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question- in recent times, women have started to give chocolate to their female friends. What’s this chocolate called?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In the past, it was considered disgraceful in Japan for a woman to confess her love openly, and she tended to avoid doing this. Even if she loved a man, her love was never fulfilled because she could not make clear her true feelings. Therefore, Valentine's Day became an opportunity for women to confess their unrequited love.
Japan, with the help of advertising by its confectionery companies, also established its own custom that says that chocolate is the gift to give on Valentine's Day. Twenty percent of Japan's annual consumption of chocolate occurs on Valentine's Day, showing that this is a national event.
A woman gives chocolate to the man she likes. Even if a woman is already married or in a relationship, she still gives chocolate on this day to express her gratitude and love for her husband or boyfriend. Women also give chocolates to male colleagues and classmates to show their gratitude for their positive working relationship, even if they have no romantic feelings. This is known as 義理チョコ (giri choco) or "obligation chocolate". While women on Valentine's Day may have a pounding heart, men also may become nervous. In particular, young men often think, "I just want to receive chocolate, even if it’s out of obligation."
Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that the chocolate given to the person a girl likes the most is known as 本命チョコ (honmei choco)? This means "true feelings chocolate". A survey showed that the average working woman budgeted an average of 3,000 yen for buying their 本命チョコ (honmei choco).
Now it's time to answer our quiz question- what’s the name for the chocolate that girls give to their friends?
The correct answer is 友チョコ (tomo choco), or "friendship chocolate." This is an evolution of obligation chocolate, or 義理チョコ (giri choco), and is in vogue among young women, especially high school students. Giving chocolate is seen as a token of friendship. This custom probably came about because many cute and delicious types of chocolate available around Valentine's Day go on sale, and so most girls give chocolates to each other because they want to try them for themselves.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, how do you celebrate Valentine's Day?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!


Please to leave a comment.
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September 2nd, 2014 at 6:30 pm
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Hi Listeners! Can you write the word "chocolate" in Japanese? Let's try here!

March 28th, 2018 at 3:22 pm
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Would Valentine's Day in hiragana be ばれんたいん で? I can only find it in Katakana, I realize it's a borrowed word and Katakana is used for that...more of a curiosity if that would work for hiragana. Thanks!

February 7th, 2018 at 1:17 am
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Hi Alex,

Thank you for the comment and sorry for our late reply.

Watashi mo chokorēto ga daisuki desu!

Keep up the good work!

Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

November 15th, 2017 at 6:38 am
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Boku wa chokorēto ga daisukidesu

February 26th, 2017 at 1:58 pm
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Maymoona さん、


We might not necessarily say 'Happy Valentine's day', but we can say that in English.

This is basically because it's not originally from our culture.

When you give friendly gift of chocolates, you can still say バレンタインのチョコレート if you like,

instead of 義理チョコ etc. directly (although there's nothing wrong to say that directly either!).

Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

February 2nd, 2017 at 6:44 pm
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What are the greetings do Japanese usually say at this day?

like ( Happy Valentine’s Day ) and such .

And when girls give a ともチョコ or 義理チョコ, What do they say after giving it to their male friends?

Would they say ( Here is my ともチョコ) ?:open_mouth:

February 22nd, 2016 at 12:47 am
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Taliyah san,



Unfortunately, バレンタインデーおめてとう is not used in Japan.

Team JapanesePod101.com

Yuki  由紀

February 15th, 2016 at 3:28 am
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Also would you say Happy Valentine's Day like this ... バレンタインデーおめてど?

February 15th, 2016 at 3:21 am
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January 24th, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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Stephanie san,


I see.

Thank you for telling us that.

Please have a good Valentine’s day :heart:

Team JapanesePod101.com

Yuki 由紀

January 17th, 2016 at 1:45 am
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We celebrate Valentine:s day in the USA in different ways, some people might not even celebrate it. My brother's birthday is on Valentine. On Valentine day we usually pass out different types of candy to our classmates and students give heart shaped boxes with candy to grown ups or the female teachers