In this article, we’ll be discussing Japanese love phrases.
It’s a pretty heady topic, but we’ve made it more digestible by organizing different kinds of love phrases in different sections. Each section also goes from more minor to more intense emotions for added help.
Scroll through to a section that interests you (or read the entire thing) and learn all about the best Japanese love phrases!
- 1 How to Say “I Love You” in Japanese
- 2 Love Phrases in Japanese
- 3 What do Japanese Rejections Sound Like?
- 4 Japanese Phrases Used for Romantic Holidays
- 5 Proposing for a Japanese Marriage
- 6 More to Know About Japanese Love Phrases
- 7 Wrap Up
So, of course, we can’t speak about important love phrases without covering the most basic phrase of all: “I love you.”
How to Say “I Love You” in Japanese
There are really only three major ways that are similar or equivalent to saying “I love you” in Japanese: すきです (suki desu| 好きです), だいすきです (daisuki desu| 大好きです), and あいしている (ai shiteru| 愛している).
“I like you” in Japanese
A phrase that is similar to saying “I love you” in Japanese is すきです (suki desu| 好きです), which means “I like you.” 好き (suki) is a term that literally means “like” or “to like.” It can be used as such, like when you want to describe your strong preference for chocolate ice cream, but it’s also used to express significant feelings toward someone. It all depends on the context – it can mean, “I like hanging out with you in an innocent way” or “I feel attracted to you.”
アイスクリームが好きです (aisukuriimu ga suki desu|アイスクリームが好きです)
I like ice cream.
とみこさんのことがすきです (Tomiko san no koto ga suki desu|富子さんの事が好きです)
I like Tomiko-san.
Note: This 「のこと」(no koto) found in the sentence above is commonly used when referring to one’s general disposition or selfhood. It’s usually not necessary to include it in a sentence, but at times it sounds most natural!
“I really like you” in Japanese
The next Japanese phrase similar to “I love you” is だいすきです (daisuki desu| 大好きです), which means “I really like you.” 大好き (daisuki) translates mostly as “really really like” something. But when used toward a person, again, it takes on a strong emphasis and is seen as a firm confession of one’s inner emotions. The Japanese don’t take their love words lightly!
ねこのいろがだいすきよ～ (neko no iro ga daisuki yo~|猫の色が大好きよ)
I really like the cat’s color!
おかあさんがだいすきよね (okaasan ga daisuki yo ne~|お母さんが大好きよね)
You know, I really love my mom!
“I love you” in Japanese
Lastly, we have あいしている (ai shiteru|愛している). This is a very powerful Japanese expression of love only used in romantic partnerships, and even then, rarely so. It’s something you’d tell your spouse on your wedding day. You wouldn’t use this phrase when speaking about food, clothes, or other things you may really enjoy.
Love Phrases in Japanese
Now let’s move on to other phrases that you can use to express your affection to someone in Japanese. These are especially useful when asking someone out on a date or showing off with some pickup lines!
Common Japanese Phrases to Use on a Date
So what about those love phrases you might use on a Japanese date? Or even just getting to know someone better? Sometimes you don’t need to confess love but still may want to show your feelings. Here are some of the best Japanese words and phrases to use when on a date!
あなたはわたしといっしょにぶらぶらしたいですか (anata ha watashi to issho ni burabura shitai desu ka|あなたは私と一緒にブラブラしたいですか)
Do you want to hang out with me?
This is how to ask if someone wants to hang out with you in Japanese. It’s a great way to invite someone to spend time with you before truly getting to the dating stage.
あそびにいこうか (asobi ni ikou ka | 遊びに行こうか)
Let’s go play.
Here’s the same as the previous expression but in a more formal tone, which can be okay depending on your personality and relationship with the person in question.
あなたはわたしといっしょにゆうしょくにでかけたいですか (anata ha watashi to issho ni yuushoku ni dekaketai desu ka | あなたは私と一緒に夕食に出かけたいですか)
Do you want to go out for dinner with me?
This is essentially the big “can I take you on a date” question, just like it’d be in English. It translates as “do you want to go out for dinner with me?” and signifies that you’re romantically interested in someone. This expression is quite formal and respectful.
げんきそうですね (genki sou desu ne|元気そうですね)
This means, “you look great.” It’s a sweet thing to say to someone when you see them for the first time in the day, especially if you’re on a date. Remember, the Japanese speak with their outward appearance just as much as with their words, so they’re sure to appreciate an initial compliment!
あなたはとてもかわいいです(anata ha totemo kawaii desu)
You’re so cute.
This means, “you look really cute.” This Japanese phrase is as flirtatious as it sounds and good to use on a date. So now you know – かわいい(kawaii) is not an anime-exclusive word!
すばらしいよるでしたよ(subarashii yoru deshita yo | 素晴らしい夜でしたよ)
It was a wonderful night.
Feel free to substitute any dazzling word for 素晴らしい (subarashii) here, which means “great” or “wonderful”. This phrase says that the evening/night was wonderful and is a great closing when expressing your feelings after a thrilling date.
きょうたのしかったです (kyou tanoshikatta desu | 今日楽しかったです)
Today was fun.
Here’s a variation of the expression above, meaning “today was fun.” As you grow more comfortable with the Japanese language, feel free to get creative in your expression!
またあえますか (mata aemasu ka | また会えますか)
Can i see you again?
So the date went well (hopefully), and you want to know if things can continue this way. If so, here’s the expression you want to use – “can we meet up again?”
Note: If you’re reading this as a potential dater of a Japanese native, here’s one strong piece of advice: never come late! Tardiness is one of the greatest cardinal sins in Japanese culture. On time really means early… even “right on time” is kinda late! Besides, it’s considered rude and turnoff-ish to arrive anywhere late, so don’t let it happen!
Japanese Pickup Lines
The term for a pickup line in Japanese is くどきもんく (kudoki monku|口説き文句). We mentioned a couple of pickup lines above – here are some other useful terms!
つきあているひとはいますか (tsukiatteiru hito ga imasu ka | 付き合ている人がいますか)
Are you seeing anyone (these days)?
いっぱいおごりますよ (ippai ogorimasu yo | 一杯おごりますよ)
I’ll buy you a drink – although this is technically a statement, it’s one of those statements that implies confidence and assertion in your request to do something for someone. Therefore, you can think of this expression as “let me buy you a drink”. A classic
ここにだれかすわっていますか (koko ni dareka suwatteimasu ka | ここに誰か座っていますか)
Is someone sitting here? (Another classic and a good way to announce yourself and break the ice before sitting next to a stranger.)
What do Japanese Rejections Sound Like?
Unfortunately, things don’t always work out as buttery as planned in the land of adulting. Although these won’t exactly be lovable phrases, we feel it’s only right to let you all know what the other side of the fence looks like. Here are some common non-love phrases in Japanese!
きょうみがないんです (kyoumi ga nain desu | 興味がないんです)
I’m not interested.
This is likely the most brutal way to reject someone in Japanese. This literally means, “I’m not interested.” As far as we understand, if a Japanese native is playing hard to get, it won’t look like this – this is a rejection.
This is a polite and straightforward way to decline someone in Japanese, just like in English. No hard feelings, of course.
もうかれしがいます (mou kareshi ga imasu | もう彼氏がいます)
I already have a boyfriend.
わたしのたいぷじゃないです (watashi no taipu janai desu | 私のタイプじゃないです)
You aren’t my type.
Oddly enough, the Japanese are rather keen on different personality types and are even open about these distinctions. One relatable example can be seen in how much importance Japanese people give to blood types when considering what a person is like. For that reason, this rejection may be thrown around more often than not, respected as being a rather normal emotion for someone to feel.
まだまじめなかんけいをしたくないです (mada majimena kankei wo shitakunai desu | まだまじめな関係をしたくないです)
I don’t want a serious relationship yet.
Japanese Break-up Phrases
Lastly, there are break-up lines – the evil cousin of rejections.
あなたのせいじゃない。わたしのせい (anata no sei janai. Watashi no sei|あなたのせいじゃない。私のせい)
It’s not your fault… It’s my fault
This one needs no explanation. It’s a common way to spare your partner’s heart during a break in both Japanese and English.
ともだちのままでいましょう (tomodachi no mama de imashou|友達のままでいましょう)
Let’s just be friends
This is something you might hear or say as a relationship burns out its passion, but the friendship stays alive. Usually, you’ll see this one coming.
わたしたちはうまくいっていない (watashitachi ha umaku itteinai|私たちは上手くいっていない)
It’s not working out between us
If you know Japanese, here’s a good one to remember since this combination of words is really never used otherwise.
もうきもちがさめってしまったんだ (mou kimochi ga samette shimattanda|もう気持ちが冷めってしまったんだ)
I don’t love you anymore
Literally, “at this point, my feelings have become cold”… ouch!
Note: These are just a select few popular Japanese phrases out of a million. It’s really up to the listener to be engaged enough to “read the room” for clarity as to what’s being expressed.
Japanese natives can seem very dancy with their emotional expression, and that’s because they are. Straightforward is never the way to go for Japanese speakers, but if you pay attention and remain immersed in the culture, you’ll learn to distinguish “yes” from “yes” and “no” from “no”!
Japanese Phrases Used for Romantic Holidays
Next up, we take a look at these romantic Japanese phrases reserved for romantic holidays. Mostly, these phrases aren’t entirely exceptional or unique, but they’re good to remember either way. You can use these Japanese phrases along with any terms of endearment that you have for your significant other.
Japan does have Valentine’s Day, although it’s celebrated quite differently than it is in the West. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is reserved for the honoring of men! That’s right – women give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day. And while the gifts are usually expected and don’t have to be romantic at all, that’s not always the case.
To ask someone to be your Valentine in Japanese, the expression goes:
バレンタインをいっしょにすごしてくれる？(barentain wo issho in sugoshite kureru?|バレンタインを一緒に過ごしてくれる？).
Now, this isn’t the same as some casual request for fun like it sometimes is in the West. Asking someone to be your Valentine this way is the same as a confession.
White Day is the antidote to Valentine’s Day. Falling exactly one month afterward, White Day is the day on which men return the favor to the ladies. This is a big deal for Japanese men to show their emotions in an overt fashion. This day is sort of an ode to that.
This is honestly not inherently a romantic Japanese holiday (regardless of its origin), but it’s still a good chance to show your feelings.
You might say something like わたしはあなたにひとめぼれした (watashi ha anata ni hitomebore shita|私はあなたに一目ぼれした), which means you have a strong crush on someone.
Love Phrases on Christmas
Little known fact: aside from the loads of fried chicken that Japanese natives eat on Christmas (plus some other stuff), Christmas can be considered a romantic holiday in Japan! This just may be the day you confess your heart to another with a box of らくがん (rakugan|落雁).
Try this one as you hand off your box of goodies to your significant other:
わたしはともだちいじょうとしてあなたをかんがえている (watashi ha tomodachi ijou toshite anata wo kangaeteiru | 私は友達以上としてあなたを考えている)
I think of you as more than just a friend
Love Phrases on Japanese Birthdays
Little known fact #2: the true Japanese birthday celebration is really a romantic occasion with your special someone! Crazy right? Crazy, but true. Most couples go out on dates for their birthdays. Therefore, a birthday is a perfect opportunity to reaffirm your love for someone with a phrase like:
あなたがずっとだいすきでした (anata ga zutto daisuki deshita|あなたはずっとずっと大好きでした)
I’ve always loved you.
Proposing for a Japanese Marriage
We’ve saved the best for last – Japanese marriages! Here is a list of some heavily romantic phrases you can use when proposing a marriage (or helping a friend do the same or something)!
けっこんしてくれますか (kekkon shite kuremasu ka | 結婚してくれますか)
Will you marry me?
けっこんしたい (kekkon shitai | 結婚したい)
I want to marry you
わたしとけっこんしてください (watashi to kekkon shite kudasai | 私と結婚してください)
Please marry me
あなたはおれのじんせいさいあいのひとですよ (anata ha ore no jinsei saiai no hito desu yo | あなたは俺の人生最愛の人ですよ)
You are the love of my life
わたしはあなたなしではいきられないんだ (watashi ha anata nashi deha ikirarenain da | 私はあなたなしでは生きられないんだ)
I can’t live without you.
The first three phrases are obvious. While the latter phrases don’t seem as directly related to marriage, you’d never say something as strongly as this unless you plan on spending your life with someone!
More to Know About Japanese Love Phrases
To conclude, we’ve added some extra bits on how love is communicated in Japanese culture. Check them out to see if you’d picked up on any of these cues before!
First Names in Japan
Usually, in Japan, people are referred to by their last name by everyone except for family and close friends. Also, there are different terms used in addressing each of your family members.
If, at some point, you get on a first-name basis with a native Japanese speaker (especially if you’re in Japan), it’s a sure sign that your relationship is pretty close.
Omitting the “San” in Japan
The Japanese honorific さん (san) is a suffix that follows a person or animal’s name in Japan. You can think of it sort of as “Mr.” or “Ms.”. It’s rude to call someone or speak of someone by their name without adding さん unless you are close enough with that person. The omission of this part of speech or writing brings you closer to the person in question.
There are also additional suffixes such as ちゃん (chan) and くん (kun), which are used in place of さん (san), which add even more sentiment to one’s name!
Love at Second Sight – 恋の予感
In the Land of the Rising Sun, and probably in the rest of the world, too, there is something known as “love at first sight.” That’s old news. But, in Japan, there is also something known as “love at second sight,” or こいのよかん(koi no yokan|恋の予感).
This kind of insight when you meet someone reflects a more mature and long-term understanding of love – that is, love refined through time. When you meet someone and feel as though your union is unbreakable, even if you aren’t in love, that’s 恋の予感.
While the first character, 恋, means “love,” the final character, 予感, means “premonition.” So this term represents the premonition or guesses of love on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th time you meet this person. Pretty cool phrase, huh?
The Importance of Compliments
It’s always nice to warm people up and warm them up to you by sharing kind thoughts. As we mentioned before, in Japanese culture, politeness, even by simply saying “thank you,” is always honored and appreciated.
Complimenting your friends and family (especially when you really mean it) is the best way to know you’re taking note of what they do and who they are.
Above we’ve listed quite a few ways to deliver sweet compliments to your buds, and there are a million more. So we won’t go overboard – just remember that a consistent flurry of gentleness can be just as much a confession of love as anything else in Japan! If you enjoyed this lesson and would like to learn other Japanese phrases, we have a separate article that will teach you useful phrases in Japanese.