So anywhere that Valentine’s Day is celebrated, it can be a little disheartening to see everyone paired off and snuggling up to celebrate the day if you’re single.
But Valentine’s Day here isn’t necessarily just for couples to celebrate. Whether you think it’s good or bad, there are certain Japan-specific traditions when it comes to this February holiday.
Valentine’s Day has become a popular time for women to kokuhaku 告白(confess their feelings) by giving chocolate to the one they’ve been crushing on. (This has meant most often women giving chocolate to men, but we’re fans of saying this is something everyone should feel able to participate in, regardless of the gender of the giver or the receiver).
And chocolates aren’t just given to lovers, people also make chocolates for their coworkers and bosses, called girichoko 義理チョコ and to their friends, known as tomochoko 友チョコ. In addition to chocolate, some people opt for baked goods such as cookies, cupcakes and muffins.
This holiday is accordingly a retail extravaganza, with departments stores, craft and baking stores, all getting in on the fun of selling pre-made chocolates alongside boxed mixes, packaging, and special decorations for the holiday.
If you happen to be single this day, we’ve got a couple suggestions for how to still enjoy the holiday.
Show Yourself Some love and Indulge in Chocolate Just for You
According to a recent article in the Japan Times, more and more Japanese women are drifting away from the conventions of Valentine’s Day, and instead are choosing to purchase chocolates for themselves. And if you are a chocolate fan, why not! In time for this holiday, you’ll find so many different kinds of specialty box chocolates appearing everywhere, so why not treat yourself and get a one of a kind box as a treat to keep after the hard days at work? As of late Ruby Chocolate, known for its light fruity flavor has become quite popular, so maybe this is the perfect excuse to give it a try. Stop at department stores like Isetan, Koredo, or Takashimaya for some luxury, treat-worthy goodies.
2. Have a Tomochoko Party
Now, you don’t necessarily have to be making chocolate at a tomochoko party. Maybe you and your friends prefer baked goods? Why not get together and have a cookie swap? For those who don’t have ovens, there are plenty of alternatives as well, from namachoko, a caramelly melt in your mouth chocolate made with fresh heavy cream that is incredibly simple to make so long as you have a stove top. Getting together with friends on this day can be a nice reminder that it doesn’t take a romantic partner to feel surrounded by love!
3. Go out and meet other singles!
There are tons of Valentine’s Day events if you don’t want to spend the day at home alone. If you’re in the mood to maybe get hit with cupid’s arrow, try going to a gokon, a social gathering made specifically for eligible singles to meet up and see if sparks fly. The pressure of meeting someone seem to intense? Then why not put on your dancing shoes (or hat, but yes, at most clubs shoes will still be necessary). There are plenty of enormous clubs in Tokyo, such as Camelot which is hosting a Valentine’s Week this year. Another cool spot is 1 Oak Tokyo, the club with locations in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles that puts world famous DJS center stage.
Or for those who aren’t feeling it, how about a regular night-in with a home-cooked dinner and a nice cup of cocoa? If Valentine’s is not pulling on your heartstrings this year, by tomorrow it will have been just another day, so why not make it a good one?