Etsuo’s Corner: Valentine’s Day memories


Theo Baker/Guilfordian

This week, I would like to introduce what Valentine’s Day is like in Japan. Last week, I experienced Valentine’s Day in the U.S. for the first time, and it was a great experience for me.

The main difference between the two countries’ celebrations of Valentine’s Day is which gender is expected to give presents. In Japan, girls give chocolate or cookies for boys. In the U.S., it seems to be opposite. Initially, Valentine’s Day is a chance for girls to give chocolate or cookies to boys like their significant others or romantic interests. But now, girls give the presents not only to boys, but also their friends. Recently, it is more popular to exchange presents among girls and their friends rather than gifting presents to their significant others.

My experience with Valentine’s Day in Japan was not always fun. This was because for boys, it is disappointing when they do not get chocolate. My middle school prohibited bringing chocolate to school, so my friends and I were unable to receive chocolate. We were envious of people who enjoyed the day.

My high school allowed students to bring chocolate to school, but most of the girls only exchanged it among their friends. Boys could get only some chocolates in general, but a few of boys got a lot of chocolate. The inequality made me sad on Valentine’s Day.

While attending a university, I could finally enjoy the Valentine’s Day. My classmates brought chocolate and shared with their classmates. That time, I was not jealous and really enjoyed the gifts.

Last week, I experienced “the real Valentine’s Day”. The first thing that surprised me was that everyone said “happy Valentine’s Day!” In Japan, we do not say this, so I really felt that this was part of American culture.

In addition, what made me feel like this was American Valentine’s Day was when my friend was asked whether they would give out candy or not. In Japan, we do not talk about whether we will give chocolate, but worry about whether they can receive chocolate. Overall, I had an interesting experience with “the real Valentine’s Day.”

Next is the experience of Nozomi Suzaki, a Japanese exchange student who told me some of her memories of giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day. My experience was always only on the receiving end, so her experience is important for understanding how Japanese girls celebrate Valentine’s Day.

“Since the third grade of elementary school, I brought chocolate to school and exchange them with my friends every year. Before the Valentine’s Day, I stayed up late to make chocolate, and I made about 100 pieces of chocolate. I remember one day I cooked chocolate with my mother , and she mistook the process of cooking chocolate and it did not get hard until morning. I ended up adding cornflakes and brought them to school at last.

After exchanging chocolate with my friend, I also received about 100 pieces of chocolate. I still cannot believe this, but I ate them for two days straight. I cannot eat 100 chocolates for two days now.

I also judged the taste or the quality of the chocolate while eating it with my mom. Those memories are very important for me. Every year, I was looking for Valentine’s Day one week before it happened. On New Year’s Day or Christmas, I celebrate with my family, but the Valentine’s Day is one of the few days that I can enjoy with my friends.”

A lot of people might be thinking of Japanese Valentine’s Day as strange after reading this article. I also felt this way with American Valentine’s Day, but it was fun to experience another type of Valentine’s Day.

Now for the next Valentine’s Day, I am back to worrying about whether I can get chocolate again or not.