White Day Delights: A Guide to Traditions, Gifts, and Celebrations in 2024

by Nana Young

Learn all about the upcoming celebration that can only be described as a reverse Valentine’s Day. White Day is a cultural phenomenon that embodies appreciation and fairness toward the people in your life.

Introduction to White Day: Japan's Unique Tradition

Handsome young man is giving gifts, expressing gratitude to his lovely girlfriend while they are sitting on couch at home

White Day is an annual Japanese celebration where men give reciprocal gifts to the women who offered them presents on Valentine’s Day. For instance, imagine a husband receiving a box of heart-shaped chocolates from his wife on Valentine’s Day. A month later, on White Day, he is expected to reciprocate with a gift of his own. That has always been the core concept behind the day, although there have been slight variations since the celebration started some decades ago.

Before we dive into White Day’s origins, you need to understand Japan’s unique way of celebrating Valentine’s Day, which is different from most countries. For one thing, men don’t give gifts to women. Instead, only women are obligated to offer gifts to the men in their lives, including their husbands, boyfriends, friends, co-workers, and bosses. That was the case for about 40 years, and many people felt it was an unfair tradition. So when Ishimuramanseido, a Japanese confectionery company, came up with the idea to set aside a day for men to return the favor by giving Japanese women gifts of marshmallows, there weren't too many complaints. This was in 1977, and it was called Marshmallow Day. In 1978, The National Confectionery Industry Association renamed it “White Day” and urged men to give white chocolates as an answer to the gifts they got on Valentine’s Day. Since the first White Day on March 14, 1978, the tradition and rules surrounding the celebrations have largely remained unchanged.

The Significance of White Day in Japan

Young Asian man surprising his girlfriend with a big gift box on bed in white bedroom for White Day in Japan

White Day is more than an excuse for confectionery companies to make a profit from consumerism. It represents the manifestation of Japan’s gift giving culture, which encourages people to return favors by giving back something of equal or more value. By connecting Japanese Valentine’s Day and White Day, both genders get the chance to show equal levels of gratitude and affection to one another without feeling cheated or offended.

But why the color white? Picking white as the theme color for this “answer day” was no coincidence. The color white is a symbol of purity, which is associated with innocent teen love. With Valentine’s Day having been borrowed from Western culture, White Day is Japan’s original interpretation of how wholesome love can be, even among adults.

When is White Day Celebrated?

Wall calendar with a red pin - March 14 Celebrating White Day

White Day is celebrated annually in Japan on March 14th, exactly one month after Valentine's Day. The spot-on timing connects the two holidays as mirror images of each other. It also affords enough time for men to get their response gifts, which are expected to be more valuable than the ones they received. White Day is celebrated in other countries a month after Valentine's Day. Countries that have adopted the tradition include China, South Korea, and Vietnam. Other nations, such as the US, do not see the need to create a response day because their Valentine’s Day already favors both genders by encouraging the exchange of gifts between men and women.

Understanding White Day Gifts: The Rules of Reciprocity

Unexpected moment celebrated in routine everyday life! Cropped photo of man's hands hiding holding chic bouquet of red roses and gift with white ribbon behind back, happy woman is on blurred background

In the past, marshmallows and white chocolates were the only common White Day gifts. Today, this list has expanded to include cookies, other candies, white-colored jewelry, and accessories. They can be handmade or store-bought. No matter the gift you have in mind, you should remember the rules of reciprocity surrounding the holiday, sanbai gaeshi. According to the rules, there is a traditional expectation that White Day gifts should be three times the value of Valentine's Day gifts. In most cases, a gift of double the value is acceptable.

Pop Culture References: Anime Examples of White Day Gift Giving

Animation Character Romantically Interested

To further illustrate the culture of White Day gifts, here are some famous anime episodes where characters displayed a deep understanding of the tradition.

  1. Ore Monogatari - Episode 21: In the 21st episode of Ore Monogatari, titled Me and a Letter, Takeo Gouda baked some cookies to show appreciation to his romantic interest, Rinko Yamato, after she gave him Valentine’s Day chocolates. This was a display of White Day gift giving in its purest form.

  2. Fruits Basket - Episode 12: Episode 12 of Fruits Basket saw Yuki Sohma surprise his female interest, Tohru Honda, with beautiful golden hair ties on White Day. “White Day” also happens to be the title of the episode.

  3. Acchi Kocchi - Episode 12: The 12th episode of this famous anime was divided into two parts. The first is set on Valentine’s Day and the second on White Day. There were lots of White Day gift references in this episode, including mentions of chocolates, marshmallows, and the three-fold gift rule.

Popular White Day Gifts in Japan

Love, romance, holiday, celebration concept - man opening gift box

Keeping in mind the rule of sanbai gaeshi, one can understand why there’s a trend towards high-quality and thoughtful presents. Failure to return a gift will be taken as a sign of how little you value the woman and her initial gift. Returning an equal-value present could mean you want to end the relationship. To avoid disappointments, ensure that both the monetary value and thoughtfulness of your gift meet the expectations of the recipient. And to help you achieve this, we’ve compiled a list of popular gifts given on White Day, including our top product recommendations.

White chocolate: White Day wouldn’t be what it is today without milky white chocolates. These treats serve as a symbol of romance and affection. GINZA RUSK: Miwaku no White Chocolate is an ideal addition to your White Day gifts. Made with Hokkaido milk, they have a deeper taste than most chocolate products.

Tea sets: A set of teapots, tea cups, and filters could be just what you need to thrill that special person White Day. Miyama Premium Tea Time Set is the very best for lovers of tea. It consists of white porcelain Sencha bowls that match the serene nature of Japanese tea drinking.

White strawberries: These types of strawberries are perfect for the occasion thanks to their tangy, sweet flavors and succulent textures. Bokksu’s signature White Strawberry Gift Box offers the best option. It contains 12 pieces of freeze dried strawberries infused with white chocolate, making it the ideal White Day gift.

The Evolution of White Day Celebrations

Happy couple on summer evening having romantic dinner in a called White Day

Earlier in this post, we mentioned that White Day celebrations have evolved over the years in Japan. These changes have been subtle and gradual, but there’s a distinct difference between how people celebrate the day today and when it all began.

The first few White Days saw men focus on giving gifts of candy and marshmallows. However, Japan experienced an economic boom between the late 80s and early 90s, resulting in a shift in focus. Men preferred to buy luxury fashion items as gifts, which only raised expectations. Today, luxury items like jewelry, designer bags, and cosmetics remain an integral part of White Day. These gifts no longer have to be white, either. With some couples taking the opportunity to go on romantic dates and exchanging letters, what used to be simple gift exchanges can now include more elaborate gestures and experiences.

White Day vs. Valentine's Day: Understanding the Differences

Boyfriend and girlfriend lying taking selfie with happy face expression looking each other in eyes.

Besides the obvious contrasts, such as their celebration dates and gender obligations, are there other differences between White Day and Valentine’s Day? The short answer is: yes, there are.

Firstly, the chocolate gifts given on Valentine’s Day have clearly defined categorizations that White Day doesn’t:

  1. Giri choco: given to male colleagues and bosses at the workplace as obligation chocolate.

  2. Honmei choco: offered to romantic partners, love interests, and crushes.

  3. Tomo choco: shared among female friends.

Secondly, White Day is a lot more expensive for gifters than Valentine’s Day, thanks to the customary sanbai gaeshi. Also, Valentine’s Day is a global celebration, hence, the rest of the world celebrates it at the same time as Japan. White Day, on the other hand, is a native holiday. Only a handful of foreign countries celebrate it on March 14.

How to Celebrate White Day in 2024

Date In Spa. Couple Enjoying Head Massage Together Relaxing Lying On Beds With Eyes Closed In Beauty Salon Indoor, While Masseuse Massaging Body.

To help you get the most out of this special holiday in 2024, here are some suggestions for celebrating.

  1. Organize a gathering of friends: Gather a group of your close friends and exchange small gifts like t-shirts, flowers, and mugs. Do this in addition to the special White Day gift you offer to the women who gave you Valentine’s Day gifts. The gathering could also take the form of a white themed party.

  2. Go on a romantic date: White Day is basically Valentine’s Day in reverse, so it makes sense to treat it as such. Men can take their romantic partners on heartwarming dates to parks, gardens, and restaurants with spectacular views and themed menus. White Day coincides with the Japanese cherry blossom season, making it the ideal time to go on hanami dates at places like Ueno Park, Meguro River, the Sagano Romance Train, and Sumida Park. Those places are currently the hottest hanami spots for couples in 2024.

  3. Go to the spa: Pamper yourself and your loved ones with a spa treatment. You can enjoy specials like milk baths and oil hair treatments. 

  4. Make drinks and desserts: Another option is to spend your time making delicious drinks and treats for her. White cocktails, like mojitos, are great drink options. For desserts, consider making white chocolate cake and vanilla cookies.

White Day for Friends and Colleagues

Friends are hanging out in a bar, celebrating one of the women's birthday. She is receiving a gift from one of the men at the table.

White Day is also an opportunity to show appreciation to female friends, family members and colleagues, not just romantic partners. White chocolate, marshmallows, bags, jewelry, and other fashion items make fantastic gifts for friends. The same types of gifts are acceptable among colleagues, such as your co-workers and boss. However, you should also consider gift boxes and hampers filled with a collection of themed items.

The Best Places to Buy White Day Gifts in Japan

Hands holding credit card and using laptop. Online shopping at Bokksu Boutique

The value of your gift depends on three factors: how much it costs, the thoughtfulness behind it, and the quality of the items. Of the three, cost is the least important because you can spend a lot of money on substandard products. What matters most is thoughtfulness and quality. You’ll need to buy your gifts from a reliable source if you want authentic and durable items. The top places to buy White Day gifts are luxury department stores, specialty shops, and local confectioneries. However, you’ll have to visit these establishments yourself and spend time browsing and asking questions while shopping for the right items. It’s much easier to buy online from a trusted platform like Bokksu Boutique. We offer individual gift items and customizable gift boxes in our newest 2024 Sakura Collection, definitely the best White Day presents you can find online.

White Day Celebrations Across Japan: Regional Variations

White Day traditions are the same across all regions of Japan. However, popular gift ideas tend to vary based on the city. For example, people in Kyoto exchange matcha tea and gifts wrapped in furoshiki. In Okinawa, you’ll find a lot of traditional Japanese sweets made from beni-imo (purple sweet potatoes).

White Day Dining: Special Menus and Treats

Happy young married couple enjoying cozy romantic weekend time with cup of hot tea coffee chocolate

If you decide to go on a White Date dinner date, it helps to know what type of establishments to visit. The most appropriate would be restaurants with themed menus. Some of them offer White Day specials, such as authentic Japanese ganache coated with chocolate. You’ll also find restaurants next to cherry blossom spots that offer fine dining and a fantastic view of the blossoming sakura trees. Bakeries are another solid option. They provide seasonal treats, perfect for celebrating the day.

Embracing the Spirit of White Day

Japanese couple watching illumination

Whether you’re in Japan or celebrating from afar, the spirit of White Day is there for you to embrace. Apart from the fulfilling feeling that comes with returning the favor to those who remembered you on Valentine’s Day, you'll also enjoy seeing their faces light up in appreciation.

Shop at Bokksu Boutique and get special presents your partner will absolutely love!

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