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Valentine's Day in Japan: Do People Actually Confess to Each Other?

I’ll set the scene: it’s Valentine’s Day, and you’re at home celebrating by practicing the ancient Valentine’s Day tradition of watching romantic comedy anime. Suddenly, protagonist-kun confronts heroine-chan. “I like you! Please go out with me!” he exclaims. “Is this actually a real thing?” you might wonder. Well, wonder no more.

You are likely aware that anime is not reality. However, if you are not from Japan you might wonder how many of the tropes in anime are actually reflective to a certain degree of actual real life in Japan (a valid question if you ask me, not that anyone did). Do people actually confess their feelings to their crush on Valentine’s Day? The answer is, as expected, not simply “yes” or “no”.


Last month, a Japanese wedding company called Rakuten O-net published the results of an investigation in which they asked unmarried Japanese men and women aged 20-39 about their experiences confessing/being confessed to on Valentine’s Day.

“Have you ever confessed/been confessed to on Valentine’s Day?” With responses: “No” 65.2%, “Yes” 24.6%, “I don’t remember” 9.3%, and “I don’t want to answer” with 1.0%.

As you can see in the above chart, 65.2% of the people surveyed have, in fact, never been confessed to. However, 24.6% have indeed had an experience of confessing/being confessed to. I’m not sure what you were expecting, but to be honest I was a bit surprised that there were so few! It’s important to note here that the 24.6% does not specify whether they or their partners were the ones to do the confessing. What I enjoy even more though are the “I don’t remember” answers, which capped at 9.3%. Perhaps they have a confession experience but are repressing the horrible memories.

But what about that group of people that HAVE had the experience? How did it go?

“How did your confession go?” With responses: “It went well (and we ended up going out)” 54.5%, “It went well (but we didn’t end up going out)” 16.9%, “After I/they confessed, I/they were immediately rejected” 13.0%, and “Not particularly good or bad” with 15.6%.

The most common response was “It went well (and we ended up going out)”, which had 54.5%. In other words, IF one WERE to confess, the odds appear to be in their favor. This reality conflicts heavily with Nisekoi. Unfortunately, there were also confessions that were instantly shut down (13.0% of them!), so no guarantees. And then we have the vague “not particularly good or bad” group. Similar to the “I don’t remember” group of the previous question, some respondents do not seem to be keen on divulging the details. Either that, or they really just don’t remember, but which one of those options is more entertaining?


So what we’ve cleared up here is that while most people don’t have a confession experience, a decent amount of the respondents do, and the ones that do mostly were met with at least mild success. But when does this confessing happen?

“If you were able to choose when to confess, when would you most prefer to do it?” With responses: “Any time is fine” with 49.5%, and then going down the list from left to right: Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Birthday, A Fireworks Show, A Festival/Other Event, Graduation Day, White Day, “When I am notified of a job transfer” (lol), New Year’s, Halloween, and “Other”.

As you can see, this is a fun one. Unfortunately for all you Valentine’s Day lovers out there, the majority of people don’t seem to care when the confession occurs. That being said, the most popular individual day is still Valentine’s Day with 9.9%. More interesting is some of the other listings, such as the 2.2% lame-os who would confess when they are notified of a job transfer (how dare you be practical!). That, and the 0.6% who like to get freaky on Halloween.

Other than Valentine’s Day, there are some anime tropes proudly respresenting on this chart: Fireworks shows, festivals, graduation day and White Day (reverse Valentine’s Day in Japan where boys give girls chocolate) all have made the list. Christmas might be surprising considering it’s number two after Valentine’s Day, but that is because Christmas is less of a religious/family-oriented holiday and more commercial/romantic holiday in Japan.


It’s important to note again that this questionnaire was answered by unmarried, single Japanese people. In other words, the results would likely be very different if married individuals were included (and, in my opinion, the amount of people with a confession experience would be higher!). Dating in Japan is a bit different than the West. When I gave a presentation on this information to Japanese university students, they were surprised to learn that confessing before going out was not a very common practice in the United States. To them, confessions in some form or another are a very common way of asking someone else out.

There’s a lot of cultural information to process here, and I’ve only given a very brief overview in this article. Be sure to ask any questions/make witty observations in the comments!


I’m Protonstorm, and this is my new blog about Japanese culture, Positive in Japan. I am currently studying in Nagoya, Japan, and have previously lived in Hokkaido and Kyoto. For more articles on all things anime, be sure to check out AniTAY, Kotaku’s reader-run anime blog.

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