Giri Choco: On Valentine's Day, Japanese Women 'Traditionally' Give Chocolate To Male Coworkers

By | February 10, 2020

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Women buy boxes of chocolates as gifts before Valentine's Day at a Tokyo department store. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images)

If you're in Japan around February 14, you'll find retailers selling beautifully packaged chocolates just as you would in other parts of the world. These Japanese chocolates, however, may serve a different purpose from typical Valentine's Day gifts. They may be giri choco, chocolates that women purchase for business associates or other men for whom they have no romantic feelings. Let's look at how giri choco started and how it is viewed today. 

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"Giri choco" literally means "obligation chocolate". (

What Is Giri Choco?

Giri choco literally translates to "obligation chocolate," which is one of the few combinations of words that can turn delicious candy into sadness. According to custom, women give the small, inexpensive packages of sweets to the men in their workplace. Obligation chocolate can also be given to friends, acquaintances, and even family members on Valentine's Day. Giving giri choco to some guy is the equivalent of saying "I acknowledge your existence, but this isn't going to happen."