Taking the world less travelled

Valentines Day in Japan

Posted by on Feb 17, 2010 in Life | 2 comments

Valentines day is different in Japan than it is in Australia. The main thing here is that on Vday girls give chocolate (if it’s hand made all the better) to a special someone. They also have a custom of giving it to male co-workers and the like, but to be honest I’m not all that clued up on the why and how of things. Where as in Australia I think Vday is a thing more for new couples or couples who are trying to bring back that spark, and often involves a card plus chocolate or teddy bears or flowers or necklaces (if there is lots that needs to be repaired in the relationship), and usually the giving is given by the man.

Never the less, what it usually doesn’t involve is a tree.

My JET friends, however, haven’t taken down their Christmas tree, so they decided to decorate it with stuff from the 100 yen store to make it into a valentines day tree!

Apparently the land lady saw the tree and talked to another Japanese person about how Americans celebrate V day by putting up a tree. That’s part of our job – to spread international understanding etc.

At my mountain school just before Vday I was doing a lesson on Shapes, and my JTE, who has great ideas but not very good English, came up with the idea of doing some origami. We made hearts and then she got the kids to write messages to me on them!

The thing is, when I was explaining about how the V day works in Australia, she misunderstood (actually, I think she had preconceived ideas about the day and just ran with it) and started talking about how you give cards etc to people who you want to say “thanks” to, by the sounds of it you can give V day things to anyone and everything. I just ran with it, it was easier.

But the message to me on a heart card was the sweetest idea ever and now I have about 15 hearts from my favourite school. I put up some on my wall – I put up the ones with the neatest handwriting and ones that just didn’t say the predictable “thanks for teaching me English”.

They are next to my mirror so I can feel the love as I brush my teeth. If you are interested in what my apartment looks like you can check out my home tour post.


OK, a standard response, but the hearts were so sweet. This is from a grade 3 girl -there are actually only two grade three students and they share a class with the grade 2 students. This girl is so cute *heart* her!

ありがとう。 またいっしょうにあそぼう

Isn’t that just the cutest! And i’m fairly certain she misspelled Australia – オーストラリア - with a ヤ at the end. So cute! But true – the correct way to say my country of origin is “au-stray-li-ya”.

Dear Carlie
From Sora

This one is from a fourth grade student. Nice use of katakana there.

Sorry I took these in bad lighting… This one is also from a fourth grader.

Dear Carlie
これからも べんきょうをおしえたくだ
From Maya

I like this one a lot!

Dear Carlie
From Kayo

I like the use of English and the creative tale of the “y”. I like it beri macchi!

Speaking of valentines trees, it turns out they actually exist. This is what I saw in Kobe!

It seems you write your wish on a ribbon and tie it to the tree.

Does this by chance say the “backstreet boys”??!

And some Korean.

Well, there you have it, my vday post for this year…


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  1. Theresa Amlong

    Love your post. Too funny about the tree.
    Heads up: In Japan, males reciprocate on White Day, March 14 by presenting sweets and such to the ladies.
    In the US we celebrate VDay with all the folks we love. I give my Mom and each of my children a card everyear and school children swap cards in the classroom (politics may have changed that these days). After 28 years of marriage my husband and I still exchange VDay cards and sometimes gifts if we see something we think the other would like. Other couples I know do the same. Interesting how the day is celebrated differently in each country.

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