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Valentine’s Day is coming up, and knowing what to say in Japanese to make things official with your crush is half the battle. The good news is the steps to a kokuhaku (confession) of love are straightforward, writes Daniel Morales.

And if you don’t know where to start with dating — whatever the language — Rebecca Saunders has subjected relationship coach Koji Arano to the 20 Questions treatment. Some of his answers might also help you out in your quest for love. If not, there’s plenty more on his YouTube channel.

Many women in Japan probably breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing that Valentine’s doesn’t fall on a weekday this year, writes Kaori Shoji, meaning they could avoid buying the obligatory chocs for male colleagues. In fact, that tradition has been in decline for years now, with many female workers forgoing the practice altogether — and treating themselves instead.

Deep Dive podcast, Episode 81: Chocolate in Japan — from Paris to the Ogasawara Islands | THE JAPAN TIMES
Deep Dive podcast, Episode 81: Chocolate in Japan — from Paris to the Ogasawara Islands | THE JAPAN TIMES

Yes, Valentine’s in Japan is all about the chocolate. On the latest Deep Dive podcast, Jeana Cadbury — sorry, Cadby — who has a Ph.D. in specialty cacao and craft chocolate, takes host Oscar Boyd on a tour through the history of chocolate in Japan and the recent growth of the country’s craft choc scene.

If candy’s more your thing, why not make an effort to stop by your local dagashiya and pick up something more old-school this Valentine’s? These classic confectioners need your support. As Russell Thomas explains, these small stores once played a key social role in Japan, but today only a few remain, peddling nostalgia to both kids and adults.

If you’re in need of further ideas, Dessert Watch’s Patrick St. Michel has you covered, showcasing two Valentine’s specials on offer while stocks last, at Mr. Donut (a six-variety collaboration with Pierre Marcolini) and Sushiro (chocolate cake!), of all places.

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