“I Miss You” in Japanese — Expressing personal feelings

At one point in the day, we might be missing someone. So let’s learn how to say “I miss you” in Japanese so you can express yourself better next time!

yellow stick on note "i miss you" note

In English, the phrase “I miss you” is a way to express affection to your family and friends in your culture and language. However, this doesn’t apply to the “I miss you” phrase in the Japanese language.

Direct Translation of “I miss you” in Japanese

The direct translation of “I miss you” is わたしはあなたがこいしい (Watashi wa anata ga koishii | 私はあなたが恋しい | I miss you).

However, this direct and speaker-centered expression is often too serious and apparent from a Japanese perspective. So, it’s more common in romantic relationships than among friends and families.

Japanese native speakers prefer objective and less feeling-centered expressions as the following. They are the typical phrases to show deep affection and lonely feelings toward others.

  • あなたにあいたい (Anata ni aitai | あなたに会いたい | I miss you)
  • あえなくてさびしい (Aenakute sabishii | 会えなくて寂しい | I miss you)
  • あなたがいなくてさびしい (Anata ga inakute sabishii | あなたがいなくて寂しい | I miss you)

But Japanese speakers don’t use them much to a friend or family when they want to say “I miss you.” If you face the situation of saying “I miss you” to someone in Japanese, please keep in mind that the above example is more natural for a romantically involved person.

To say “I miss you” in Japanese more casually to your friends and families, use the following expression instead.

  • ひとりでさびしい (Hitori de sabishii | 一人で寂しい | I’m alone and feel lonely)
  • あいたいな (Aitai na | 会いたいな | I want to see you)
  • あってはなしたい (Atte hanashitai | 会って話したい | I want to see you and talk to you)
  • かおがみたい (Kao ga mitai | 顔が見たい | I want to see you in person)

The most natural way to say “I miss you” in Japanese

As a Japanese learner, you probably have noticed that Japanese people don’t express their emotions using words as straightforwardly as Westerners do. Words like “I miss you,” “I like you,” and “I love you” may not be as typical as you would expect among friends, families, and romantic relationships. However, they do care about each other in their way.

Japanese people use the word like “miss,” “like,” and “love” more often for a thing or place rather than referring to a person and prefer other expressions to say “I miss you” in Japanese.

Japanese-like phrasing to say “I miss you” often comes with the verb 会う (Au | あう | to meet) and the adjective 寂しい (Sabishii | さびしい | to miss).

People would hesitate to use this English-like phrasing, and they probably would get surprised to hear it from a person unless they are deeply in love.

  • あなたがこいしい (Anata ga koishii | あなたが恋しい | I miss you)

On the other hand, people would comfortably use the Japanese-like phrasing below with close friends, families, and relationships in everyday conversation.

We’ll show you what the sentence literally means for some phrases.

  • あいたい (Aitai na | 会いたい | I wish we could meet)
  • すごくあいたい (Sugoku aitai | すごく会いたい | I miss you so much)
  • はやくあいたいな (Hayaku aitai na | 早く会いたいな | I want to see you soon)
  • あえなくてさびしい (Aenakute sabishii | 会えなくて寂しい | I miss you/I miss you because I can’t see you)
  • いっしょにいれなくてさびしい (Issho ni irenakute sabishii | 一緒に居れなくて寂しい | I miss being with you)
  • あうのがたのしみです (Aunoga tanoshimi desu | 会うのが楽しみです | I can’t wait to see you)
  • そばにいれたらいいのに (Soba ni iretara ii noni | 側に居れたらいいのに | I wish I could be by your side)
  • もうすぐあえたらいいな (Mousugu aetara ii na | もうすぐ会えたらいいな | I hope to see you soon)
  • あってはなしたい (Atte hanashitai | 会って話したい | I want to see you and talk to you)
  • かおがみたい (Kao ga mitai | 顔が見たい | I want to see you in person/I want to see your face)

“I miss you” and “I love you” in Japanese culture

In Japan, expressing emotions quietly and restraining personal feelings have been a part of virtue for a long time.

And this background helped develop the Japanese way of acknowledging things before the English word “love” arrived in Japan with Western literature during the Meiji era (1868–1912).

You can see some words with the Kanji “恋” identical in the direct adaptation of the English phrase あなたがこいしい (Anata ga koishii | あなたが恋しい | I miss you).

Here are some historically used expressions:

  • こいし (Koishi | 恋し | admirable)
  • いとし (Itoshi | 愛し | painfully cute)
  • めづ (Mezu | 愛づ | yearn for, cherish)
  • このましい (Konomashii | 好ましい | preferable, likable)
  • したわしい (Shitawashii | 慕わしい | adorable, endearing)
  • こう (Kou | 恋う | long for)

Soseki Natsume, a Japanese novelist of the Meiji era, taught his English literature class to translate the English phrase “I love you” into “The moon is beautiful, isn’t it?”. Also, Shimei Futabatei, a Japanese writer, translated the Russian phrase “I love you” into “I could die for you” around the same time.

Truth or not, these anecdotes are still well-known among Japanese people for their preference for Japanese-style indirect wording over Western-style explicit expressions.

The Japanese version of “I love you” without the same word and expression

Below are examples of phrases on how to say “I love you” without saying “I love you.”

  • つきがきれいですね (Tsuki ga kirei desu ne | 月が綺麗ですね | The moon is beautiful, isn’t it?)
  • しんでもいいわ (Shindemo ii wa | 死んでもいいわ | I could die for you)

Meanings behind the Japanese “I miss you” phrase

In this chapter, we will learn the meaning and use of the i-adjectives and tai-form verbs in the Japanese “I miss you” phrase.

I-adjective word

I-adjectives are a type of adjective finishing in い (i) sounds.

  • こいしい (Koishii | 恋しい | to miss)
  • さびしい (Sabishii | 寂しい | to miss, to feel lonely)
  • さみしい (Samishii | 淋しい | to miss, to feel lonely)
  • かなしい (Kanashii | 悲しい | to miss, to feel sad, to feel unhappy)
  • せつない (Setsunai | 切ない | to miss, to feel sorrowful)

Japanese particles called じょし (Joshi | 助詞) are essential to make a flawless sentence.

We marked particles with an underline to help you learn.

  • あなたこえこいしい (Anata no koe ga koishii | あなたの声が恋しい | I miss hearing your voice)
  • わたしさびしい (Watashi mo sabishii | 私も寂しい | I miss you, too/I am lonely, too)
  • かれあなたこいしがっていた (Kare wa anata wo koishigatteita | 彼はあなたを恋しがっていた | He missed you) *past tense version
  • あなたいないいえさみしかった (Anata no inai ie wa samishikatta | あなたのいない家は淋しい | Our home without you felt lonely) *past tense version

Tai-form verb word

Tai-form verbs can express a speaker’s desire to do something, and each word ends with たい (Tai) sounds.

Affirmation of desire

Expressing your longing for something

  • あいたい (Aitai | 会いたい | to want to see, to want to meet)
  • はなしたい (Hanashitai | 話したい | to want to talk)
  • ききたい (Kikitai | 聞きたい | to want to hear)
  • いきたい (Ikitai | 行きたい | to want to go)
  • いたい (Itai | 居たい | to be)

Denial of desire

Expressing unwillingness to something

  • はなれたくない (Hanaretakunai | 離れたくない | I do not want to leave)
  • かえりたくない (Kaeritakunai | 帰りたくない | I do not want to go home)

Do not forget to pay attention to the Japanese particles such as に (ni), と (to), を (wo), が (ga), and は (ha) in a full sentence. These particles can be almost exchangeable sometimes but could slightly alter the meanings of a sentence.

  • あなたあいたい (Anata ni aitai | あなたに会いたい | I want to see you) *Actions that can be completed independently
  • あなたあいたい (Anata to aitai | あなたと会いたい | I want to see you) *Actions that can be completed in collaboration
  • あなたのこえききたい (Anata no koe ga kikitai | あなたの声が聞きたい | I want to hear your voice) *Actions that can be completed independently
  • あなたのこえききたい (Anata no koe wo kikitai | あなたの声を聞きたい | I want to hear your voice) *Actions that can be completed in collaboration
  • きみのそばいきたい (Kimi no soba he ikitai | 君の側へ行きたい | I want to go to your side) *Direction of a motion
  • きみのそばいたい (Kimi no soba ni itai | 君の側に居たい | I want to be by your side) *Destination of a motion

Using “I miss you” naturally

In this chapter, we focus on the Japanese adjectives in the Japanese “I miss you” example phrase.

Once you get the ideas, you can express your emotion sufficiently and start speaking Japanese more naturally.

Expressing a strong sense of attachment

The word こいしい (Koishii | 恋しい) expresses a strong sense of attachment to a physically distant person, thing, or place. When referring to memories, it expresses nostalgia rather than personal affection.

It is the most typical expression in romantic relationships, while rarely used in friendships and family relationships.

  • えんきょりれんあいちゅうのかれがこいしい (Enkyori renai chuu no kare ga koishii | 遠距離恋愛中の彼が恋しい | I miss my long-distance boyfriend)
  • にほんがこいしい (Nihon ga koishii | 日本が恋しい | I miss Japan)
  • おせわになったにほんごのせんせいがこいしい (Osewa ni natta nihongo no sensei ga koishii. | お世話になった日本語の先生が恋しい | I miss my Japanese teacher who took good care of me)

Feeling lonely

The word さびしい (Sabishii | 寂しい) literally translates as “silence” or ” “feel lonely” in Japanese. It sometimes refers to a deserted place and situation instead of someone’s feelings.

It is also related to the わびさび (Wabi Sabi | 侘び寂び), the traditional Japanese aesthetics for blessing transience and imperfection.

  • あいたいのにあえなくてさびしい (Aitai no ni aenakute sabishii | 会いたいのに会えなくて寂しい | I want to see you but I can’t. I miss you)
  • きみがひっこしたらさびしくなるよ (Kimi ga hikkoshitara sabishiku naru yo | 君が引っ越したら寂しくなるよ | I’ll miss you when you move out)
  • なにもなくてさびしいまちだ (Nani mo nakute sabishii machi da | 何も無くて寂しい街だ | It’s a deserted and lonely town)

Experiencing heartache

The word さみしい (Samishii | 淋しい) refers to a tearful heartache of loneliness and insecurity, and sometimes solitary. It is also a fitting phrase to use when grieving the loss.

The Kanji “淋” is not included in じょうようかんじ (Jouyou Kanji | 常用漢字 | Regular-use Kanji). Yet, you can use it generally in everyday conversation.

  • とてもさみしかったわ (Totemo samishikatta wa | とても淋しかったわ | I missed you so much) *past tense
  • おっとがなくなってから、まいにちさみしくてなきそうです (Otto ga nakunatte kara, mainichi samishikute nakisou desu | 夫が亡くなってから、毎日淋しくて泣きそうです | Ever since my husband passed away, I’m lonely and feel like crying every day)
  • ひとりさみしくさけをのむ (Hitori samishiku sake wo nomu | 一人淋しく酒を飲む | I drink all alone)

Being unhappy

The word かなしい (Kanashii | 悲しい) signifies a heart-aching and unhappy feeling. On the contrary, かなしい (Kanashii | 哀しい | to be sad) stands more for the heart-wrenching feeling of pity and sorrow.

When you want to casually say “I miss you” in Japanese, “悲しい” would be the suitable expression.

  • おわかれがかなしいよ (Owakare ga kanashii yo | お別れが悲しいよ | We will miss you/It’s sad to say goodbye)
  • なかのよいともだちにあえなくてかなしい (Naka no yoi tomodachi ni aenakute kanashii | 仲の良い友達に会えなくて悲しい | I miss my close friends)
  • きみとはなれているあいだはとてもかなしかった (Kimi to hanareteiru aida wa totemo kanashikatta | 君と離れている間はとても悲しかった | I missed you so much while I was away from you)

Feeling sad and lonely

Japanese native speakers use せつない (Setsunai | 切ない) in various situations. It literally means “cut” but usually implies loneliness and sadness, but sometimes nostalgia or frustration.

It’s one of the hard-to-translate words in English, and the meanings and degrees differ depending on the context.

  • もういっしょにいられないなんてせつなすぎる (Mou issho ni irarenai nante setsuna sugiru | もう一緒に居られないなんて切な過ぎる | I will miss being with you/It’s tough that we can’t be together anymore)
  • あいたいきもちがつのってせつない (Aitai kimochi ga tsunotte setsunai | 会いたい気持ちが募って切ない | I miss you so much/I feel so lonely)
  • あきはせつないきせつだ (Aki wa setsunai kisetsu da | 秋は切ない季節だ | Fall is so nostalgic/Fall makes me lonely)

Various use of “I miss…” phrases in Japanese

Let’s check how to use “I miss” phrases to speak Japanese effortlessly.


You can use these phrases with your partner if you want to express that you miss them.

  • かれにあいたい (Kare ni aitai | 彼に会いたい | I miss him/my boyfriend)
  • わたしもかれしにあいたい (Watashi mo kareshi ni aitai | 私も彼氏に会いたい | I miss my boyfriend, too)
  • かのじょにあいたい (Kanojo ni aitai | 彼女に会いたい | I miss her/my girlfriend)

Work colleagues

Examples for when your colleague is gonna leave the company or when they’re going on a long break.

  • さびしくなるよ (Sabishiku naru yo | 寂しくなるよ | We’ll miss you/We’ll be lonely without you)
  • いままでありがとう。げんきでね。(Ima made arigatou. Genki de ne. | 今までありがとう。元気でね。| Thank you for everything. Take care)


Missing a specific food? Here’s an example sentence.

  • にほんのおすしがこいしい (Nihon no o sushi ga koishii | 日本の寿司が恋しい | I miss sushi in Japan)
  • おかあさんのてりょうりがたべたい (Okaasan no teryouri ga tabetai | お母さんの手料理が食たい | I miss my mom’s cooking)


Public transport in Japan is known to be always on time. But if you’re running late, here are some examples sentences to help you explain yourself.

  • さいしゅうびんにのりおくれた (Saishuu bin ni noriokureta | 最終便に乗り遅れた | I missed the last bus/train/flight) *past tense
  • またのりそこなうよ (Mata norisokonau yo | また乗り損なうよ | You will miss the ride again)
  • のりたいばすをのがした (Noritai basu wo nogashita | 乗りたいバスを逃した | I missed the bus I wanted to take) *past tense


Here are some examples you can say you miss something.

  • りょこうがこいしい (Ryokou ga koishii | 旅行が恋しい | I miss traveling)
  • ともだちとはなすのがこいしい (Tomodachi to hanasu no ga koishii | 友達と話すのが恋しい | I miss talking to my friends)
  • そのえいがをみのがした (Sono eiga wo minogashita | その映画を見逃した | I missed that movie you’re talking about) *past tense
  • あなたはぜっこうのきかいをのがした (Anata wa zekkou no kikai wo nogashita | あなたは絶好の機会を逃した | You missed the great opportunity) *past tense


Learning to say “I miss you” in Japanese opens a world of heartfelt expressions. Whether you have a partner to shower with affection or friends to share your longing with, this phrase adds a touch of warmth and sincerity to your relationships.

Before the article ends, do you have someone you miss? Let us know in the comments!

がんばってください (Ganbatte kudasai)! ^^

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