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Victoria Fernandez / © Culture Trip
Victoria Fernandez / © Culture Trip

What is White Day, Japan's Version of Valentine's Day?

Picture of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer
Updated: 12 February 2018

In Japan, White Day is celebrated one month after Valentine’s Day. The two go hand-in-hand, and it wouldn’t make sense to celebrate one without the other. So what exactly is White Day and how did it come about?

Valentine’s Day

Things are a little different on Valentine’s Day in Japan. Every year on February 14, it’s the women and girls who give out chocolates to their friends, family and, of course, their romantic interests. So, for the sake of fairness, a new holiday was created so that both sides could experience and appreciate both giving and receiving: White Day.


Victoria Fernandez / © Culture Trip

Valentine’s Day gifts

Chocolate, cookies, or other edibles are a popular choice, and the type all depends on the recipient. Girls give token tomo-choco or sweets to their girlfriends, obligatory chocolates known as giri-choco to coworkers and acquaintances, and fancy honmei-choco for that special someone.

Homemade goodies are also common. Especially if she has to make a lot of gifts, a big batch of fancy handmade cookies never goes amiss. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see not just chocolates but molds, packaging, and wrappings for handmade versions of Valentine’s Day gifts.

White Day

One month later, on March 14, it’s the boys’ turn to give chocolates to their female friends and colleagues. Many other East Asian nations also observe this day, but it began as a Japanese holiday in 1978 that gave men the chance to show appreciation for the gifts they received on Valentine’s Day. It’s also a popular day for romantic dates or just sharing a special meal at home together.


Victoria Fernandez / © Culture Trip

White Day gifts

It’s not as common for men to make their gifts themselves. Typically, cookies, candies, and chocolates are common. For a romantic partner, a more elaborate and expensive gift is best, such as fine chocolates, jewelry, or a cute scarf, especially if it’s white to mark the day.

Marshmallows and White Day

White Day has its origins in another commercial holiday. In 1977, Japanese confection company Ishimuramanseido invented Marshmallow Day. They made marshmallows for men to give to women on March 14, similar to White Day. This inspired the National Confectionery Industry Association to create White Day as something all confection companies could observe. Today, marshmallows are still popular White Day gifts.