Looking for a unique and Japanese gift for Valentine’s day?
The Japanese people love to have an occasion to celebrate, and we celebrate the something every month that represents the season. Valentine’s day was first introduced to Japan after World War II, and gradually immersed its way into the Japanese culture. Like many things that land in Japan, Valentine’s day started its own evolution into the Japanese-style Valentine’s day.
It has now become a very Japanese tradition that you don’t see overseas. First of all, it is not a tradition about men gifting women, it is actually the exact opposite. In Japan, the main purpose of Valentine’s day is for girls and women who are single express their feelings to their whom they have a crush on. It is especially popular among school girls, and giving chocolate for the boy they like is a way of asking boys to be their girlfriend. The chocolates given to their real love is called “Hon-mei” chocolate, which means “real love” chocolate. However there are also other types of chocolates that have developed – “Giri=Obligatory” Chocolate, “Tomo=Friend” Chocolate, and “Gyaku=Reverse” Chocolate. This is definitely something you will roll your eyes and say, only in Japan…Giri=Obligatory Chocolate is something you give to your friends or colleagues who are men that you are not that interested in, but need to give them something to be polite. Tomo=Friend Chocolate is something you give to your girlfriends as a token of appreciation for their friendship. Gyaku=Reverse chocolate is something a man gives to a woman, which is the original form, however considered reverse in Japan, since in Japan the custom is for girls to give boys chocolate.
Chocolate is by far the most prominent gift for Valentine’s day, however, we see many other gifting options nowadays. Some of the traditional Japanese confectionary stores have made their sweets into Valentine’s day gifts.
One of my favorites is the Valentine Mini Taiyaki from Tourindo in Omotesando. Taiyaki are Japanese-style waffles shaped like a fish called Tai (Japanese Sea Bream), with a little bit of word play. “Medetai” in Japanese means happy and joyous, so Tai-yaki are considered to bring in happiness.
The Valentine Mini Taiyaki is also a word play. In Japanese the phonetic sound BA-LEN-TAIN includes the word Tai, the Japanese fish the confectionary look like.
Why not choose these Valentine Mini Tayaki as your “Hon-mei=Real love” gift this year?
Address: 〒107-0061 3-6-12 Kitaaoyama Minato-ku Tokyo (1 min from Omotesando Station)
Hours: Mondays 10:00-17:00
For more on Taiyaki confectionary, you might like: TAIYAKI – JAPENSE-STYLE WAFFLES FOR HAPPINESS