Japan has many holidays, as Tomoko knows because she grew up there. Several holidays are centuries old and others are more modern, sometimes imported from other cultures. Valentine’s Day is one of the latter types of celebrations; it became popular starting in the 1950s due to commercial campaigns targeted to women.
February 14 is mainly enjoyed by students, but chocolate is given between couples and even coworkers. In fact, in Japan, it is usually the woman who gives gifts to men such as candy; girl friends might make brownies (‘honmei-chocos” homemade chocolates), for instance, for their boy friends. Women may also give chocolates to their women friends too (“tomo choco”), and one can treat oneself to chocolate too (“jibun choco”)/
However, there is equal opportunity for giving in Japan, a custom that started in the 1980s by the Japanese Confectionery Industry Association. White Day, which occurs on March 14, is the day where people chocolates and other gifts to the people who gave them gifts on Valentine’s day – so men will give gifts then, sometimes returning the favor three-fold. The day is named based on the idea that the color what is a symbol of purity: an innocent kind of love.
Some things -- such as chocolate, gifts, and love – are international, and Tomoko shares them all.