Japan's changing Valentine's chocolate tradition

NHK -- Jan 20
Valentine's Day has always been a bit different in Japan where it is usually women who give chocolates to men. But that tradition is changing, a trend accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

People are increasingly buying special treats for themselves or friends of both genders.

Retailers have been quick to respond to the new demand. The Kintetsu Department Store chain's main outlet in Osaka has already set up a dedicated Valentine's chocolates section, with anti-infection measures in place.

Chocolates from about 140 brands are on display, including imported products that are not usually available.

Many customers are buying chocolates for themselves, as a reward for refraining from traveling and other activities to avoid getting infected.

One woman said she bought chocolates for herself and her children instead of going out to eat.

Kintetsu Department Store staffer Maekawa Nao said she hopes the chocolates will help lift customers' spirits in these trying times.

Japanese department stores have seen a recovery in sales in the run up to the New Year holiday season. However, they remain concerned about the outlook as coronavirus cases hit record highs.