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Men Share Their Best And Worst Valentine’s Stories From Japan

Last year, I wrote about women sharing their best and worst White Day stories, so this year I decided that it’s only fair to ask around for the gents’ experience, as well. So I asked some guy friends if they had any memorable Valentine’s stories they wouldn’t mind sharing and it turns out they were really glad to speak up. So here they are — from sweet to all-hell-breaks-loose V-Day stories to near-death experiences and great life lessons learned along the way.

When nothing else matters  

“My girlfriend isn’t very used to life in Japan and doesn’t understand how Valentine’s and White Day works here. I went to school in America for ten years, so I get it. Last year was our first Valentine’s together in Japan, so we decided to make chocolates together, just for the experience. It turned out awful. The chocolate didn’t melt, then it burnt, and the molds smelled like weird plastic. The chocolates stuck in the molds, and everything was a huge mess by the time we finished. But trying to make them together was so much fun, that this year we’re buying a kit and trying to make something new together again.” (Yuki, 22, Japanese-American)

If you really love me…

“My then-girlfriend (now wife) is a fantastic cook and great baker. She’s from the UK, and had only been living in Japan for a year or so when we met. For our first Valentine’s Day, she wanted to make me a cheesecake. She didn’t have an oven, so she tried a no-bake style one, but something must have gone wrong. When I opened the cake box, the cheesecake was sliding everywhere, and the little decorations on top had dyed the cake these weird, rainbow colors. It was still edible, so I did my best to enjoy my alien cake, but it’s still one of the most vivid Valentine’s Day memories I have with her.” (Kenji, 36, Japanese)

Sudden plan changes

“My girlfriend and I had this whole romantic evening all planned out — we were going to have a rickshaw ride through Asakusa, then dinner at this really fancy hotel restaurant, and then stay in a suite together. Sounds pretty amazing, right? We meet our driver, and he’s hot. Really hot. I’ve liked other men before, but not like this — I’m pretty sure I flirted with him for the whole ride. I remembered I was on a date and tried to get it back on track with dinner, but my girlfriend was furious. We made it through dinner, but I knew there was no way she was coming to the suite — she made it abundantly clear that my flirting with our driver was not cool with her, and that we were done. I apologized as much as I could but went up to the suite alone. Justifiably dumped on Valentine’s Day.” (Adrian, 27, American)

The importance of not being greedy

“I work at an eikaiwa [English language school] in a busy downtown area with a team of Japanese and foreign staff — a few are vegans, so going out to eat together almost never happens. I’ve got a lot of food allergies/sensitivities, so I usually do all my own own cooking for safety reasons. For Valentine’s Day, we decided to have a small party after hours, potluck style. Great, that way I can bring something I know I can eat, it’s not a bother for anyone else, perfect, right? Well, the party starts, we’re all digging in, and there’s this plate of vegan brownies that is just unbelievably good — they have this little spicy kick to them too, which I start to rave about… But no one else is feeling it. Then my face starts to go numb, and it gets hard to breathe. I struggle to my bag and get my Epi-Pen as my coworker calls 119. I black out and then I wake up in the hospital much later on. Several days later, I find out that the brownies were made with almond milk — one of the many things I’m allergic to. That’s why they were so spicy — it was me almost dying that gave them a kick.” (Stephen, 29, Canadian)

(S)he told me that she wanted my baby so we would have a reason to get married. She had been feeding me these herbs for months and I didn’t know it.

Well… the intentions were good

“My girlfriend and I were long distance at that time. We couldn’t see each other for Valentine’s, but we were going to go on a trip later in the month, so it didn’t matter much. I got home and had a package waiting for me from her. It smelled sweet but kind of gross at the same time. I opened it up, and inside were these chunky, melted, brown things stuck to the box and the packing stuff too. The label said it was from my girlfriend, so I sent her a text and we Skype’d. I showed her the box and she started crying, then laughing. She’d made me chocolates but because she was running late, forgot to ship it in a cold truck and so they got sent by regular, unrefrigerated service. Oops.” (Hiro, 34, Japanese)

The psychopath inside her

“My ex-girlfriend used to make me these special organic meals all the time and said she had a special chocolate recipe for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t like her cooking at all, but I appreciated how much work she put into them. Just before Valentine’s, I found this bag of kanpo (traditional herbal medicine) in her kitchen. I read the package, and I was shocked — it was for male fertility. I confronted her about it immediately, and she told me that she wanted my baby so we would have a reason to get married. She had been feeding me these herbs for months and I didn’t know it. They obviously hadn’t worked, but still! We didn’t live together, so I left her that day. I moved and changed my phone number afterwards.” (Keigo, 37, Japanese)

It takes a Valentine to learn…

“I will be first to admit that I can be shallow. I used to get a lot of chocolates in junior high and high school, and I was expecting to be just as popular in university too. I told everyone about how I had to carry an extra bag with me to bring home all my gifts in my last year of high school, and I was gonna bring two for Valentine’s that year since I was so popular in my circle. Yeah, exactly what you’d expect — I didn’t get anything. Not even a single giri choco [‘obligatory’ chocolate gift] from anyone. I found out that they’d told everyone in the circle about how I was bragging, and this was their way of teaching me a lesson. It hurt, but I think I deserved it.” (Ken, 25, Japanese)

…And to appreciate what you had

“I broke up with my [Japanese] girlfriend of two years in November because I didn’t think we had much of a future. She was nice enough, but there wasn’t much else. I just didn’t feel like marrying her, but she wanted to get married young. It was a bad break-up and I lost a lot of friends because of it. I didn’t notice how single I was until I saw all Valentine’s stuff in stores, and overheard my female coworkers making all these plans for their boyfriends and husbands. It started to really hit me that I wasn’t going to be getting anything for Valentine’s, and that made me miss my ex. She used to make me these awesome Valentine’s dinners, and we’d have this whole night together. I missed her so badly, I got drunk and decided to send her a message. I found her Instagram and she had photos of her with this other guy at Tokyo Disneyland … I feel really foolish now for not seeing how great she was.” (Michael, 30, American)

On behalf of her… we are very sorry

“I used to work with this woman who was really intense. By intense, I mean very confrontational, very direct, and had to be the center of attention. We’re both Japanese, but she really didn’t act Japanese, if that makes sense. There weren’t so many women in our office, so Valentine’s Day wasn’t a big deal to us, but one year, she started saying we should celebrate it. I didn’t think much about it because I was afraid of her, but when I got to the office that morning, she had put two handmade chocolates on everyone’s desks. They looked nice and smelled good, so I put them aside to have with my lunch. Work starts, people are thanking her for chocolates, other coworkers are giving out chocolates too. My intense coworker waited until after lunch, then passed around a piece of paper with a list of things on it. She said: ‘I expect to receive these for White Day because I made you chocolates.’ One item I remember is a Louis Vuitton wallet! There was something for everyone to buy her. We complained to our boss, and he banned celebrating any more holidays in the office, but she was very angry on White Day when she didn’t get any brand goods and threw the cookies I gave her in the garbage.” (Jun, 42, Japanese)

When a lifetime begins with a single chocolate bar

“When I was a child, Valentine’s Day wasn’t celebrated in Japan — it didn’t arrive really until I was in university. My neighbor, a girl, gave me a chocolate bar when I came home from school that day. I’d liked her in junior high, but she was far too pretty for me. She told me she liked me, and I thought ‘well, how about that.’ Our parents were close friends, they talked, and we got married the next year. We’ll be married for 65 years this spring.” (Masa, 89, Japanese)

What was your most memorable (good or bad) Valentine’s Day? Share it in the comments below!

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