Valentine’s Day was a good opportunity for Japanese women to indulge not only their husbands or boyfriends, but also themselves, into tons of chocolate. Ladies from Japan filled the stores last week to buy Valentine’s Day chocolates for all the men in their lives, but compared to the past years, more of them have also treated themselves or their friends.
Despite the international tradition of men giving flowers and chocolate to women on Valentine’s Day, in Japan it is the women who offer the treating to their dear ones.
Sayaka Aizawa, a 29-year-old housewife shopping for sweets in Tokyo, was unaware other countries celebrated the day differently.
“I have never thought of it. I thought women were supposed to give chocolate. I wish I were receiving them, but it is not happening in Japan,” she said.
But not all the chocolate is intended for men here.
“There are many women customers buying chocolate for themselves or for their female friends this year,” said store employee Chiyuki Daido, adding purchases were ranging from Y3,000 to Y15,000 ($30-$150).
“I want to buy one for myself if I can find a good one,” said Emi Kosaka, a 37-year-old corporate executive. “There are quite a lot of varieties around.”
The custom of giving chocolates to friends as well is the industry’s attempt to obtain more money from a shrinking population, the international media comments.
Japan has a $4 billion-a-year chocolate business, which is supported by special days like Valentine’s.
The country is Asia’s largest market for chocolate and is an important part of the global chocolate industry, which consultancy KPMG says was worth about $100 billion in 2012.