Valentine’s Day in Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
Jan 20, 2023

Valentine’s Day in Kumamoto

Are you looking to spoil someone on Valentine’s Day this year? Although more of a Western tradition, Valentine’s Day is becoming bigger in Japan, especially with the growing expat community who usually mark the 14th of February down in their diary as a special day. Here’s what to expect in Kumamoto, along with suggestions of places to go for a romantic date and where to buy gifts.

Valentine’s Day in Japan

Valentine’s celebrations in Japan are a little different from what westerners might be used to. It all started back in the 1930s when chocolate makers began advertising their products around the Valentine’s Day concept, with promotions mainly aimed at the foreign community. However, in Japan, the ladies traditionally buy chocolates for men. This can be for partners or love interests but extends to close friends, work colleagues, and even family members. Men then return the favor a month later on White Day, which falls on the 14th of March.

Different types of Valentine’s chocolate exist in Japan, each aimed at a different kind of recipient. These are:

  • Honmei Choco – “True love chocolate” or “Romantic chocolate” that girls buy for their significant other or special crush. It’s the most expensive and luxurious type, usually fancifully gift-wrapped. Some women choose instead to make their own Honmei Choco to add that personal touch.
  • Tomo Choco – “Friendship chocolate” given as a token to close friends. Both men and women buy this kind of chocolate for friends of either gender.
  • Giri Choco – also known as “obligation chocolate,” is reserved for the likes of bosses, co-workers, and colleagues. It is distinguished from Honmei Choco usually in terms of price, quality, appearance, and sometimes quantity, with recipients sometimes getting just one piece from a box of chocolates.
  • Fami Choco – “Family chocolate” is for male relatives. This is typically homemade and enjoyed together in the home.
  • Gyaku Choco – this is “reverse chocolate” that men give to women on White Day. This can be to return the compliment if they received chocolates on Valentine’s Day or to take the initiative and express affection for someone.

Where to Buy Chocolates in Kumamoto

If you want to find some fancy chocolates to surprise a loved one or a friend in Kumamoto, you can try any of these outlets:

Quon Chocolate
3-15 Kamitoricho
Chuo Ward


National chocolatier supplying a range of luxury products suitable for Valentine’s Day and White Day gifts.

GODIVA Tsurura
B1F, 6-1 Tetorihoncho
Chuo Ward


Department store specializing in Belgian chocolates, truffles, and other sweet products.

Where to Go for a Valentine’s Day Date

If you’re looking for a special place for a Valentine’s date, there are plenty of great spots in Kumamoto, such as Kumamoto Castle and the glorious Suizenji Jojuen Gardens. A popular thing for couples to do on this day is going out for a nice meal. Indeed, many restaurants across Japan find themselves fully booked around this time.

There are many fine restaurants throughout Kumamoto. If you’re looking for specialists in Japanese cuisine, look no further than Keika Ramen Honten, one of the city’s most renowned ramen eateries. If you fancy something with a bit more of a westernized menu, check out Café Restaurant Chez Irie close to Hikarinomori station. This place offers up fine culinary choices, including sirloin steak.

Read this guide on Kumamoto restaurants for more suggestions.

akira yamada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Justin Hanus editor

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