The Unique Culture of Valentine’s Day in Japan 6 of the latest chocolate dishes and gifts to enjoy in Umeda, Osaka
The delight of sweet, rich chocolate is already associated with Valentine's Day in the West. This custom originated in Europe and was later introduced to Japan, where a unique Valentine's Day culture has formed. In Japan, Valentine's Day is a big event not only for couples, but also at schools and workplaces. Here, we’ll take a close look at Japan's unique Valentine's Day culture and the delicious chocolate gifts that are currently trending in Japan.
Valentine's Day in Japan is different from the rest of the world!
The Origin of Valentine's Day
Before introducing Valentine's Day culture in Japan, we should take a look at the origin of Valentine's Day in the West, February 14th. The most well-known origin story has to do with a particular priest. The emperors of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century ordered unmarried men to serve in the military to fill its ranks, and forbade them to marry. However, a priest named Valentine ignored this order and secretly married brides and grooms. This was later discovered, and he was executed on February 14. It is said that in memory of his brave spirit, this day was designated as "Valentine's Day."
Western Valentine's Day was introduced to Japan after World War II and developed as a part of the culture in its own right. In the 1950s, it’s said that a chocolate manufacturer in Japan put out a newspaper advertisement which gradually formed the custom of giving chocolates on Valentine's Day.
Three major characteristics of Valentine's Day in Japan
1. Chocolate plays a leading role
In other countries, it is common for men to express their feelings to women with flowers and jewelry, or other presents. On the other hand, in Japan, chocolate is considered “the” Valentine's Day gift in almost all cases. However, there are different types of chocolate, including regular chocolate, high-end, or handmade, and which is given depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver.
2. Chocolate for your favorite? Or chocolate of “obligation”? Different names for chocolate given to different people
Chocolates given to people you care about are called "favorite chocolates" (“honmei choco”), and many Japan use handmade chocolates or chocolates from internationally famous brands to convey their feelings. Chocolates given to colleagues, classmates, and friends are called “chocolates of obligation," which means that they are given out of a sense of social obligation or based on the giver’s relationship to the person. Chocolates that convey friendship are called "tomo chocolates” (“tomodachi” meaning “friend”). So you see... People in Japan sometimes give multiple chocolates on Valentine's Day, so it’s an event that can put some strain on the wallet.
3. Treating yourself to chocolate
Many dessert and chocolate shops sell chocolates exclusively for Valentine's Day. Not only do they make great gifts, but sometimes you'll want to try them yourself! Recently there’s been a trend in Japan to use Valentine's Day to buy high-quality chocolates that are usually difficult to afford, as a reward for yourself. In Japan, this kind of chocolate is called "self-chocolate"(“jibun chocolate”).
Recommended famous chocolate stores in Umeda, Osaka
Time to taste some delicious and eye-catching chocolate sweets!
1. YORKYS Crêperie / Piece of Bake
YORKYS Crêperie is a crêpe specialty store that opened in Umeda’s HANKYU SANBAN GAI shopping mall after a popular crêpe café in Kobe expanded into Osaka. Pancake batter is arranged into a crêpe shape, after which the shop is exacting in its temperature control and cooking, so that guests can enjoy the perfectly soft and savory taste with its unique texture. A variety of flavors are available, and the strawberry mille-feuille is especially popular with Japanese ladies. We especially recommend its chocolate ganache crêpes, and you can enjoy the sophisticated taste of the cocoa dough crepes with their slight flavor of rum.
Mall: HANKYU SANBAN GAI
Floor: North Building B2F
Business Hours: 11:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. (Last order at 10:00 p.m.)
2. Cafe Bahnhof
One of the main attractions of Café Bahnhof is its wide variety of coffee beans, all of which are roasted in-house. The other is that the shop’s baristas are coffee meisters certified with the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan (SCAJ), so when it comes to coffee knowledge and techniques, they know their stuff.
Sweets are also essential when enjoying coffee, and the preparation of sweets at Café Bahnhof are supervised by Osamu Ezaki, a famous pastry chef in Japan. The sweets are made with carefully selected ingredients, and both look and taste great! One of the most popular chocolate sweets is the sachertorte, which provides the perfect harmony of rich chocolate and apricot jam. It's a can’t-miss for chocolate lovers.
Mall: HANKYU SANBAN GAI
Floor: South Building B2F
Business Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. / Eat-in 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (Last order at 8:40 p.m.)
3. CHOCOLATIER PALET D'OR
If you like chocolate, don't miss CHOCOLATIER PALET D'OR! This specialty store was opened by internationally famous Japanese chocolatier Shunsuke Saegusa. Chocolate here is made in Japan, processed from cacao beans and prepared in unique ways, decorated with gold leaf from Kanazawa. Decorated with shades of chocolate brown, the shop has a European-style atmosphere.
The showcase is lined with a variety of beautiful little chocolates, sure to make your heart beat faster. They make wonderful gifts, but can also be enjoyed right there in the store. You can also enjoy a special chocolate cake and drink set, or a combination of your selection of three chocolates and a drink.
Mall: HERBIS PLAZA ENT
Business Hours: 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (Last order at 7:30 p.m.)
Buy a gift or a recommended chocolate gift for yourself!
Originating in Italy, Venchi has a history of more than 140 years and is one of Europe's most renowned high-end chocolate specialty stores. Venchi uses Italian ingredients like pistachios and hazelnuts, and refrains from using sugar, for a product that’s both delicious and healthy. Its Osaka location is designed with a transparent glass showcase on all sides, and it has a bright, stylish ambiance, which is sure to catch your eye! When you visit, don't miss Venchi’s signature products, Chocobia and the gift box series. When you're done shopping, be sure to try their gelato as well. You can enjoy a wide variety of authentic flavors.
Mall: Diamor Osaka
Floor: Market Street
Business Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
2. Qu'il fait bon
Qu'il fait bon is a fruit tart specialty store with an excellent reputation, and since October 2023, it has been rolling out a series of chocolate cans with various flavors of chocolate-covered savory almonds, hazelnuts, and black beans. The tarts are small and bite-sized, with a sweetness you won’t tire of. The round can packaging is perfect for gifts, and this series is a limited edition seasonal product, so be sure to buy it before they disappear!
Mall: GRAND FRONT OSAKA SHOPS & RESTAURANTS
Floor: South Building 2F
Business Hours: 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
It feels somehow like a waste to eat chocolate with a gradation like a watercolor painting, doesn’t it? These beautiful chocolates are the signature product of the Japan household goods brand MOTHERHOUSE. By adding original white chocolate and natural ingredients such as fruit, tea, and salt to cacao selected from farms in Indonesia, IRODORI is a gradient chocolate that paints an image of the colors and flavors of the four seasons of Japan. Their recommended "Sokai" chocolate has a salty, fragrant shell ginger flavor, and is exclusive to Japan. Just one bite will have you spellbound.
Mall: NU chayamachi
Business Hours: 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
So, do you think you now have a better understanding of Japan's unique Valentine's Day culture? For this article, we carefully selected six popular chocolate shops in Umeda, Osaka, which are easy to access. All of them are unique brands, and if you like sweets, they can’t be missed on your next visit! Make a note in advance, so you can buy them all during your trip to Osaka!
If traveling to Osaka by bullet train, from Shin-Osaka Station you can access Osaka’s Umeda district by JR train or by taking the Midosuji Subway Line to Umeda station.
If you are traveling from Namba Station, take the Midosuji or Yotsubashi Subway Line to Umeda or Nishi-Umeda Station, or take the Hanshin Namba Line to Osaka-umeda Station.
From Kansai International Airport, you can reach Osaka Station in about one hour on the JR Airport Express Haruka.
For more details on how to get to Umeda, see here.
For more information on Umeda, check out some of our Trip Ideas.
*Information in this article is accurate as of the date of posting. There is a possibility that details regarding these products and services have changed, or that some shops have since closed.
All Mall Coupon
500 yen off
This coupon can be used in the following 6 shopping malls: :
GRAND FRONT OSAKA SHOPS & RESTAURANTS, HANKYU SANBAN GAI,
HEP FIVE, HERBIS PLAZA/PLAZA ENT, NU chayamachi / NU chayamachi PLUS and Diamor Osaka
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