Once again, Valentine’s Day comes bounding around the corner like a lovesick puppy. But if your illness has nothing to do with romance or your purse strings are a little too tight, then you may find yourself locked up inside on the most romantic day of the year.
You’ve bought the gift and been for a thousand socially distanced walks, but you’re still not “feeling it.” Where’s the spark? You might find it on this list.
Experiment with Japanese recipes
Tie up each other’s matching aprons, whack out the brand-new electronic appliances and get down and dirty…with flour. It’s time to brush off that dusty cookbook (or the Recipe Adventures) and attempt all those peculiar sweet treats you thought you could never accomplish—at least with only one pair of hands.
The responsibility of baking for Valentine’s Day usually falls to one partner, especially in Japan. Here, honmei choco (chocolate for partners and crushes) and tomo choco (for friends) are gifted throughout schools and workplaces, leaving squeals and giggles in their wake. But bonding through your food passions takes two to tango.
Try these dessert recipes:
- Honmei Choco
- Sweet Potato Spiced Dorayaki
- Matcha Macarons
- Nutty Cheesecake
- Further recipes from the Twitterverse
Lack a sweet tooth? Well, these dishes might spice up the mood:
- Teriyaki Chicken Rice Burger
- Stewed Chicken and Lotus Root
- Gluten-free Mirai Corn Nacho Salad
- Japanese Eggplant Pizza Bites
Fancy a takeaway?
If the aforementioned idea lands on the floor or spirals into a messy food fight, it might be time to pick up your phone or download an app and order in.
High-end restaurants in Japan have been offering delectable take-out feasts for a while now, so there’s no shortage of options. There’s Tokyo’s Park Hyatt’s pick-up caviar and Tokyo Whisky Library’s smoked meats. How about take-out tea and chocolate from Hyakkei? The ever-popular Valentine’s Day pizza set from Domino’s is also a quick and fun dinner date. What’s not to love about heart-shaped pepperoni pizza (they call it love’roni)?
Apart from the exceptional food, the ideal indoor picnic needs mood lighting (think inexpensive tealights), sultry background music (“Alexa, play Barry White”) and the love of your life (which is not as easy to come by). If your balcony is big enough, and you don’t mind the chilly February weather, dine in the open-air surrounded by glittering city lights (or in my case my neighbor’s bathroom window). Just remember to close the curtains when you return inside.
Lift your spirits
Bring the vineyard, brewery or distillery to you and discover a new favorite drink in the process. Buy a wild-card bottle of Japanese whisky and debate over its pungent aromas: you taste grapes, and they taste honey. Then, reconcile by referring to a YouTube reviewer who winds up tasting chocolate instead.
For a late-night treat, crack open a bottle of red wine and arrange a lavish cheese board. Then, go to your local international supermarket to stock up on British red cheddar, French brie and Dutch Gouda. The perfect match.
If sampling sake is more your “glass of wine,” consider purchasing a tasting set of award-winning bottles to support the dwindling sake industry. You may also want to enlist the help of some sake experts to impart some knowledge.
Have a spa day
Day-to-day life is stressful enough without figuring out how to spend Valentine’s Day. So, take the stress out of the equation and opt for pure relaxation.
While you may not be an expert masseuse, with a bit of help from a few how-to videos on shiatsu (Japanese massage), you’ll soon be kneading your partner in all the right spots. All you’ll need is some aromatherapy oils to get you started with a candle or two thrown in. Then, of course, you could be presumptuous and invest in a massage table and cross your fingers that it becomes a regular thing.
If that still seems like too much work, then there’s always the classic steaming hot bath with a Lush bath bomb thrown in. Finally, finish the night with cucumbers over your eyes and a pair of Lululun face masks.
Sing karaoke at home
You may not be holding a boom-box outside of your loved one’s bedroom window, but there are other ways to serenade that don’t involve lines from cheesy 80s movies or your favorite Japanese songs.
Singing at home isn’t for everyone, especially those living in thin-walled apartments or with cranky neighbors. However, suppose you time it right and don’t belt it out too loud. In that case, the fun of a karaoke-kan (karaoke store) can come straight to your living room. Microphones are easy to find online, and YouTube is filled with lyric videos.
Suppose you want to be a bit more authentic. In that case, Joysound (a song database found all over Japan) is also available on the Nintendo Switch. There’s also Let’s Sing 2022 for Switch, PS4 and PS5. You can even buy microphones for your gaming console of choice.
Reacquaint yourselves with Japanese cinema
Valentine’s Day might just be the opportune moment to gush to your partner about your favorite Kurosawa movie or infuse the atmosphere with a romantic comedy. Then, just tune in to Netflix, Prime Video, U-Next, Hulu or another streaming service of your choice. Whatever the method, you’ll be exactly where you want, cuddled up close to your best friend on the couch.
If you and your partner are techies, this is also a great opportunity to get into VR and pick up an Occulus Quest. Couples can watch movies together in virtual theater and on a giant virtual screen.
Fortunately, we have an excellent resource for all your Japanese movie proclivities:
- Try these Academy Award-like Japanese films
- Catch up with all of Hayao Miyazaki’s filmography
- Transport yourself into a high-school romantic drama
- Who doesn’t love kaiju (monster) movies?
What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Does it involve a dinner date or are you sticking to board games? We’d love to hear your ideas below!