In February 2000, we sent questionnaires to 2700 people who were registered in the category of Japan of our pen pal service and who indicated that they are willing to participate in surveys. We received 269 valid responses from Japanese people who live in Japan; 77% of them were female, 85% single, and 71% below 30 years young. In addition to the unbalance in age, marital status and gender, we must consider the fact that all survey participants are registered in an online international pen pal service, which may mean that they are overall more internationally and less traditionally oriented than the average Japanese.

St. Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14, and White Day one month later on March 14. It is said that St. Valentine's Day was imported to Japan in 1958 by a Japanese confectionery company. In Japan, it is only the women giving presents - mainly chocolate - to men, but not the other way around. Men are supposed to return the favours received on Valentine's Day one month later on White Day, a Japanese creation. White Day is believed to have been introduced by a marshmallow manufacturing company in the 1960s. The white marshmallows gave the day its name but other kinds of presents such as candy, flowers, etc. have become more popular over the years.

According to our survey, White Day is still less popular than St. Valentine's Day. 67% of the female survey participants indicated that they do celebrate Valentine's Day while only 45% of the men indicated to celebrate White Day. The two events are most popular among participants younger than 20 years with 75% celebrating Valentine's Day and 56% celebrating White Day. Valentine's Day is also more popular among single people than married couples, however, White Day is clearly more popular among married people (51%) than singles (40%). In fact, among married couples, White Day (51.3%) is almost as popular as Valentine's Day (53.9%).

As expected, the most popular Valentine's present is chocolate with over three forth of all women (who celebrate Valentine's Day) following this tradition. One third of the women celebrating Valentine's Day give a present to just one person. Another third gives presents to two to three persons, while the rest (27%) gives presents to more than three. Three out of four women give presents to their boyfriends or husbands, 40% to other friends, 27% to co-workers or classmates, and 24% to relatives.

On White Day, on the other hand, there seems to be a much greater variety of presents. 33% of the men celebrating White Day give cookies as presents. Only 11% give flowers. 55% make presents other than cookies, sweets or flowers. Almost half of the men give presents to two to three women and 29% to just one. The rest (19%) gives presents to more than three women. Two thirds of the men celebrating White Day give presents to their girlfriends or wives. Less than one out of four give presents to co-workers and/or friends. Only one out of ten make presents to relatives.