There’s no doubt that the Japanese like to do things a little differently. They eat KFC on Christmas Day, use incredibly high-tech toilets and their trains actually come on time. And when it comes to shaking up the tradition, Valentine’s Day is no exception.
In most developed countries, the norm is for both partners in a couple give each other gifts, flowers and cards. But in Japan, only women give gifts to men Valentine’s Day— and it’s almost always chocolate. There are two types of chocolates that women give. There’s the giri-choco, which means ‘obligation chocolate’, and is for friends, colleagues and bosses. Then, there’s Honmei-choco, which is a romantic gift.
“But what about the ladies? What do they get?” you may ask. Don’t worry, exactly a month later on March 14th, the Japanese celebrate White Day. This is when men return the gesture by buying chocolate (normally white) for the women who bought them a present. Fascinating, right!?
That said, Japanese couples are slowly starting to make more of a fuss of Valentine’s Day and White Day— taking their significant others out for romantic dates. If you and your partner happen to find yourselves in Tokyo on February 14th or March 14th, here’s how you can do the same.
Read also: We’ve found the 5 best Izakaya in Tokyo!
Is there a more romantic Valentine’s Day activity than ice-skating? One of the most spectacular places to do it in Tokyo is the Toshimaen outdoor rink, which often gets lit up with neon lights at night. It’s also right next to an amusement park, cinema complex and plenty of restaurants, so you can make a day (or night) of it!
Check into a love hotel
Yes, some love hotels (a private room rented by couples for naughty activities) are rather tacky. But others feature quirky, themed rooms — making for a fun and unforgettable Valentine’s Day experience! Check out the lavish Hotel Sara Sweet or the kitsch Hotel Zebra in Ikekuburo, which has rainbow-lit spa baths and karaoke machines!
Dine in the sky
If you really want to earn serious brownie points with your S.O, make a reservation at Sky Restaurant 634. Located 354 metres above ground in the Tokyo Skytree, the restaurant offers one of the city’s most spectacular views. Whether you go during the day for lunch (they say on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji) or at night to check out the city lights, you’re in for a real treat. The food itself is a Japanese-French fusion fine dining experience, created with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Tuck into chocolate at the Peanuts Cafe
It wouldn’t be a Japanese Valentine’s Day without chocolate and cartoons! The Peanuts Cafe (yes, like the TV show) is the best place to get into the spirit, as they’ve got a special Valentine’s Day, chocolate-centric menu. You and your boo will tuck into a 3-course dessert menu, featuring decadent treats like the brownie with cherry compote and the strawberry milkshake with chocolate whipped cream. You even get a cute Peanuts Valentine’s card with your meal!
Love hotels not quite your thing? Fret not, we’ve got a ton of cosy apartments in Tokyo you can book right away.