It was 1978 and Valentines Day had already caught on in Japan. The problem: Japanese women were more interested in Valentines than men.
The president of the Ishimura Manseido candy company had a plan. Women should buy guys candy on Valentines day and then men should reciprocate with presents of marshmallows a month later on March 14th. To drive home the marshmallow theme he named the day: White Day.
With the help of the Japanese candy marketing board he was successful — in a way. White Day took off in Japan. It even spread to Korea.
The problem — women don't buy gifts for men and then wait a month just to get a few lousy marshmallows. Women expect candy at least. Most Japanese women would prefer something a little more than what they gave.
Here's how Valentine's Day / White Day work in Japan today:
Women buy candy for boyfriends or men they fancy on Valentines day.
Women often buy candy for men in the office as well. This has no romantic connotations per se.
Men are expected to reciprocate (many times over) on March 14th. A minimum would be expensive chocolates and a nice dinner. Flowers, designer handbags and diamonds are also appreciated.
If a man truly despises a woman who got him a Valentines gift he buys her marshmallows as an insult.
That's the beautiful story of White Day.
Once a year Japanese guys emerge dazed and confused from their offices to buy French chocolates for their sweethearts.