In America, Valentine’s Day is something couples eagerly celebrate. There’s usually some type of intimate dinner involved, and usually an exchanging of gifts or giving of flowers. When thinking about it, traditionally it’s the guy giving the chocolates or flowers to their significant other. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a little bit different in the sense that roles are reversed and people often make gifts instead of buying them.
Celebrating the big V-day is something I’ve been waiting for since I arrived in Japan. Not because I want to give chocolates to anyone, but because I really wanted to test my chocolate making skills. If any of you reading this love Japan even a little, you probably know where I’m coming from. In anime and manga, people make Valentine’s Day chocolate and it looks stunning and delicious. Of course, I’ve tried my hand at making those chocolates in the States with little success. Now that I’m in the country where manga and anime originate, not to mention the fact I’ve got a host mom on my side, I knew the chocolates would have to at least come out edible.
Let me tell you, I’ve never had a better experience while cooking. America isn’t as centered around handmade chocolates for Valentines, but Japan is certainly different. Of course, there are adorable pre-made chocolates that people can buy, but honestly, the country just seems much more geared towards the handmade stuff. There are tons of chocolates to choose from and so many molds that can be used.
The day for making the treats was perfect. My host mom and I walked to the store and bought our chocolates. She bought this really sweet strawberry flavor while I stuck with regular dark chocolate. I already knew I wanted to make something a little more on the bitter side to combat the sweetness of the toppings and fillings I wanted to put in them. With chocolates in-hand, we made for the 100-yen store. In the States, this is akin to the Dollar Store or Dollar General. The only difference? Everything is actually 100 yen rather than mixed prices of anything but a dollar.
We also picked out a few toppings, which consisted of some walnuts and these little Ramune flavored balls. I couldn’t resist buying some animal-themed molds for the chocolate. And of course, we also had to get some cute baggies to put the finished products in. In all, the total cost ended up coming out to less than $10. You can’t beat that, especially when you get a cute and delicious treat in the end.
Once at home, my host mom took over and showed me how to make the chocolate, which was actually really simple. It kind of makes me wonder how I’d messed up so bad in the States. I’ve got to say though, this Valentine’s Day was absolutely one of the most fun I’ve ever had. I got to try my hand at making good chocolate, spend time with my amazing host mom and make some lasting memories.