• Kyodo News


Japan’s unique Valentine’s Day tradition of women giving chocolate to men is melting away as more women show a preference for pampering each other instead of their boyfriends and spouses.

The practice of giving tomo choco (friendship chocolate) has been highlighted as a new trend in a recent survey that found 74 percent of women plan to give a Valentine’s gift to a female friend but only 32 percent intended to buy something for a boyfriend.

And the trend is well established. Ninety-two percent of respondents said they had received tomo choco from a friend last year. Just 11.2 percent said they plan to give chocolates to confess their love to someone, according to the survey by chocolate-maker Ezaki Glico, Ltd., which questioned 500 women aged between 10 and 30 over the Internet.

The popularity of tomo choco has been attributed to the way that the custom offers women an excuse to have a girls’ night out — something pertinent at a time when so much social interaction is going digital.

Junichi Taniguchi, a professor at Tezukayama University’s School of Psychology in Nara Prefecture, said texting and communicating via the Internet has become such a standard part of young women’s lives that it takes events like Valentine’s Day to give them a reason to socialize with each other face to face.

The tomo choco trend may also say something about Japan’s poor economic situation. According to Glico, women spend an average of ¥438 on a chocolate gift for a friend, ¥952 to confess a crush on someone, and around ¥1,781 on a gift for a boyfriend.

The survey also indicated that as they get older, women are less likely to buy chocolate to confess their love to someone, and that 23 percent of college-age women chose to buy chocolates for themselves.

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