What is White Day and Why is it Special?

by Megan Taylor Stephens

Valentine’s Day in Japan is a time of love, cupids, sweets…and major anxiety for girls and women! You see, the custom is for females to make the first move. On February 14th, they muster up the confidence to give their intended koibito (lover) special chocolates or other treats. Then on March 14th, known as White Day, they wake up with a knot in their stomach. By the end of the day, they hope and pray that their love interest reciprocates by giving them a gift, a symbol of shared affection.

Whoever invented White Day was a genius marketer. Think of all the goods flying out the shop door, not just on Valentine’s Day, but on White Day too! Whoever invented White Day was probably also a guy who decided they’d rather not be vulnerable first. Genius on both accounts. It turns out that White Day began in 1978 as a marketing strategy from a Japanese confectionery owner. Initially known as Marshmallow Day, it gradually became White Day, a time when men who received Valentine’s gifts return the favor to women.

My White Day Experience

When I lived in Japan in high school as an exchange student, my Japanese friends encouraged me to give the boy I had a crush on some chocolates on Valentine’s Day. I was used to embarrassing myself with my poor language skills and complete ignorance about the customs, but this took the cake. My friends were surprisingly convincing. I gathered up the courage over several weeks to buy him chocolates. On Valentine’s Day, I darted up to him, thrust the chocolates toward him, and mumbled something like, Tsumaranai mono desu kedo (“It’s very trivial, but here”). He sheepishly took them and ran off as quickly as I did in the opposite direction.

You can imagine how slowly the next month passed. As White Day approached, my schoolmates seemed downright giddy. March 14th finally arrived, and I managed not to feign being sick to stay home. The target of my amorous daydreams crept toward me while the whole school was watching. He looked very uncomfortable and red-faced. He said, Okaeshi ni (“In return”) and shoved some cheap giri-choco (obligatory chocolates) my way. He had reciprocated the gift of chocolates, but made it clear that he was just being polite and had zero romantic interest in me. I certainly refrained from having any more crushes that year, or at least any more crushes that I spoke openly about.

White Day Chocolates and other Japanese Sweets

It doesn’t have to be White Day for you to buy someone special a nice Japanese treat. Bokksu has an impressive assortment of Japanese candy and desserts to surprise your friend or make your love interest swoon.

White Strawberry is the perfect match for White Day. These heart-shaped, freeze dried strawberries are infused with white chocolate. They are among the top sold Japanese snacks because they have a hard chocolate texture with a bright blast of tart real strawberry.

White Strawberry (12 Pieces)

With Black Strawberry, the same sweet strawberries are infused with dark chocolate. The resulting effect is a smooth but crunchy Japanese candy with the satisfying pairing of berry and chocolate.

Black Strawberry (12 Pieces)

Mini Chocolate Millefeuille is a light little wafer cookie with many layers of incredibly thin and crisp pastry hidden inside. A light sweet cream keeps the layers together, and the whole thing is dipped in milk chocolate.

Mini Chocolate Millefeuille

Nihonbashi Sable Cookies: Chocolate + Vanilla are a lovely take on the delicate French sable cookie. It has a crumbly yet crunchy sandwich cookie in two different flavors filled with a thin layer of sweet cream frosting.

Nihonbashi Sable Cookies: Chocolate + Vanilla

Rather than selecting individual items, you also might want to get your special friend a Japanese snack subscription box. When you register for Bokksu’s Japanese snack subscription box, you will get a new Japanese candy box or Japanese snack box sent to your door each month. You’ll get to experience a wide array of Japanese candy, savory snacks, and assorted teas. 

How to Say I Like You in Japanese

Maybe if I had presented the chocolates more eloquently instead of mumbling something incoherent, cupid’s arrow would have pierced my crush’s heart. I recommend using some of these more clear and direct phrases:

Anata ga suki desu あなたが好きです = I like you.

Anata ga daisuki desu あなたが大好き です = I like you a lot.

Anata wa subarashii hito desu あなたは素晴らしい人です = You are an awesome person.

Anata wa kakkoii あなたはかっこいい = You are cool/handsome.

Anata wa totemo kireii desu あなたはとてもきれいです= You are very pretty.

We wish you good luck in your pursuit of life, love, happiness, and chocolate. Ganbatte kudasai!


By Megan Taylor Stephens

Author Bio

Megan Taylor Stephens interest in the Japanese language, culture, and food goes way back. She was a Japanese exchange student in high school. Then she studied Japanese and linguistics in college, returned to Japan to work through the JET program (Coordinator of International Relations), and was an interpreter and translator for a while. Megan taught English as a Foreign Language in Japan and other countries before getting a Master's degree in ESL and becoming an ESL teacher. She then pivoted to becoming a school-based speech-language pathologist, so still gets to be immersed in the field of applied linguistics and loves working with bilingual students. Megan enjoys writing on the side for companies like Bokksu. A love of language, culture, travel, food, and learning never dies, it only gets more intense--just like cravings for ramen and Pocky!