Japanese Love Vocabulary: Romantic Japanese Words and Phrases 

 May 6, 2020

By  Alexis Papa

Have you ever watched an anime or read a manga and asked yourself if those confessions do really happen in real life? Perhaps wondered how different Japanese dating culture is from the West’s? 

In this article, we will be sharing how Japanese dating culture works, as well as teach you some words and phrases that may help you succeed in the Japanese dating game up until your very own happily ever after.

Romantic Japanese Words and Phrases

Confessing Your Love in Japanese

You might be wondering whether the love confessing culture, which is usually shown in anime and manga, really does exist in Japan. In fact, this culture is called 告白(こくはく)or kokuhaku, and is widely practiced and considered as an essential part of an official start of a romantic journey.

It can be observed that kokuhaku is usually done by females, and can be done even before asking the other person out.

In Western dating culture, couples would usually hang out or go on numerous dates first before becoming exclusive or official. In Japan, on the other hand, relationships could already become exclusive or official once someone confesses and has been ‘accepted’.

For non-native speakers, it is kind of challenging to convey or discuss their feelings because in English there is a clear distinction between words like and love; whilst in Japanese, these words have the same counterpart which is 好き(すき) or suki.

Depending on the level of affection, you would hear people say the following when expressing their feelings:

Common Ways to Express Love/Like in Japanese

好きだ / 好きです(suki da/suki desu)I like you.
大好きだ / 大好きです(daisuki da / daisuki desu)I like you (a lot).
愛している(aishiteiru)I love you.

If you wish to do kokuhaku, you should note that愛している (aishiteiru) is rarely used compared to好き(suki) and大好き(daisuki). You would not want the person you like to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed, nor would want to be perceived as a creep so try to avoid saying this if possible.

The safest phrase to use if you’re interested in someone and wish to go out with them would be 好きです(suki desu).

Valentine’s Day and White Day

If you are thinking of confessing to someone you are attracted to, Valentine’s Day is the time you should look forward to to let that person feel extra special. In Japan, this is among the events where you will witness the culture of kokuhaku.

On this day, it is a tradition for women to give chocolates to the people they like, as well as to other people they are not romantically interested in.

Chocolates given to the people they like are called 本命チョコ(ほんめいチョコ)or “honmei-choco”, which are usually fancy and expensive, or maybe home-made. On the other hand, chocolates given out of respect to friends, workmates, and family are called 義理チョコ(ぎりチョコ)or “giri-choco”.

Of course, there will be an event for men to express their adorations. This happens a month after Valentines, and is called White Day. This is where men give back to the people that gave them presents during Valentine’s Day.

Here are some vocabulary and phrases that may help you during these events:

バレンタイン barentain Valentines
チョコレート chokoretto chocolates
プレセント puresento present
バラ bara rose
花(はな) hana flowers
花束(はなたば) hanataba bouquet
手紙(てがみ) tegami letters
彼氏(かれし) kareshi boyfriend
彼女(かのじょ) kanojo girlfriend
携帯番号(けいたいばんごう) keitai bangou cellphone number

For example,

バレンタインがまちどおしい! Barentain ga machido oshii!I can’t wait for Valentine’s day!
バレンタインをいっしょに すごしてくれませんか?Barentain wo issho ni sugoshite kuremasen ka?Will you be my Valentine?
かれはわたしにはなたばをプレセントしてくれましたKare wa watashi ni hanataba wo puresento shite kuremashita.He presented me with a bouquet of flowers.
わたしはかれし (/かのじょ) がいます。 Watashi wa kareshi (/kanojo) ga imasu.I have a boyfriend (or girlfriend).
でんわばんごうきいてもいい? Denwa bangou kiite mo ii?Can I get your number?

Japanese Vocabulary and Phrases for Asking Someone Out

If you wish to ask someone out on a date, you can use the verb 付き合う(tsukiau) which means “to go out with”, “to associate with”, or “to accompany someone”.

The word’s meaning and usage vary on the context – when asking someone to go on a casual date, or to state that you are in a relationship. Confusing, right?

Again, keep in mind that kokuhaku plays a great part in officially establishing a relationship. So, unless kokuhaku is accepted, then tsukiau’s meaning and usage would be the former.

Here are some phrases to help you ask someone out:

Kaeru mae ni kissaten ni ikun da kedo,tsukiatte kuremasen ka?
I am going to the coffee shop before going home, would you like to come along (or hang out) with me?
すきです。わたしと つきあってください。
Suki desu. Tsukiatte kudasai.
I like you. Will you go out with me?
Kondo issho ni doko ka ni asobi ni ikimasen ka.
Do you want to go out with me sometime?
デートにいこう。/ あそびにいこう。
Detto ni ikou. / Asobi ni ikou.
Let’s go on a date. / Let’s hang out.
Using でもどう (demo dou) - “How about…”
Kaimono demo dou?
How about some shopping?
Eiga demo dou? 
How about watching a movie?
Kohi demo dou?
How about (grabbing) some coffee?

Date Places Vocabulary

えいがかん (eigakan) movie house
どうぶつえん (doubutsuen) zoo
ゆうえんち (yuuenchi) amusement park
・ディズニーランド (Dizunīrando) Disneyland
・ディズニーシー (Dizunīshī) Disneysea
びじゅつかん (bijutsukan) museum
すいぞくかん (suizokukan) aquarium
こうえん (kouen) park
まつり (matsuri) festivals

For example:

Issho ni yuuenchi ni demo ikanai?
Would you like to go to an amusement park together?
Kouen ni sanpo shini ikanai?
Would you like to stroll in the park?
Suizokukan ni asobi ni ikou ka?
Should we hang out at an aquarium?

Japanese Phrases to Use During a Date

Now that you have successfully asked someone out, you will want to know, compliment, impress, or entertain your date. Here are some of the must know phrases that you can use:

Suki na tabemono wa nan desu ka?
What is your favorite food?
Kono resutoran dou omoimasu ka?
What do you think of this restaurant?
Tsugi wa doko e ikou ka?
Where should we go next?
Te wo tsunai de mo ii?
Can I hold your hand?
キスしてもいい? / キスしたい
Kisu shite mo ii? / Kisu shitai
Can I kiss you? / Let's kiss.
Anata wo ie made okurimasu.
I will drive you home.
きょうたのしかった (です)。
Kyou tanoshikatta desu.
I had fun today.
Itsu mata aemasu ka.
When can I see you again?

How to Compliment your Date in Japanese

Do you want to earn plus points from your date? Try saying these words to compliment your date.

(SUBJECTは ) ADJECTIVEですね 。 =  You are ___________.


きれい(な) kirei napretty
かわいい kawaii cute
カッコイイ kakkoii cool
ハンサム hansamu handsome
センスがいい sensu ga ii have a good taste
じょうず jouzu good at
すてき suteki lovely
あたまがいい atama ga ii smart

For example,

Hontou ni sensu ga ii desu ne.
You have really have a good taste.
Hanashi jouzu desu ne.
You are such a good speaker.
Kawaii desu ne.
You’re cute.

Japanese Love Vocabulary: Beyond Dating

If things have become more serious, here are some phrases and sentences to help you take it to the next level:

Jinsei sa ai no hito
Love of my life
Kekkon shite kuremasen ka.
Will you marry me?
Kekkon shiyou.
Let’s get married!
Kekkon shitai.
I want to get married.
Issho ni narou.
Let’s be together.
I want to hold you.
Totemo aishiteimasu.
I love you so much.
Eien ni aishiteimasu.
I (will) love you forever.
Watashi wa anata wo kokoro kara aishiteimasu.
I love you with all my heart
Watashi wa anata nokoto wo istumo omotte imasu.
I always think of you.
Anata wo itsumo shiawase ni shimasu.
I will always make you happy.
Eien ni daiji ni shitai.
I will treasure you forever.
Issho ni iru to anshin shimasu.
I feel safe whenever I’m with you.

Other Useful Phrases

Japanese people are said to be shy and politeful. It’s true – they usually avoid giving a direct “no” as they always mind whether the person they are speaking with would feel bad if they say so.

When turning down a date or telling someone you’re no longer interested, here are some phrases that you might hear, or can say.

Gomen nasai.
I am sorry.
わたしにはつきあっているんひと がいます。
Watashi ni wa tsukiatte irun hito ga imasu.
I am seeing someone.
Mou aenai.
I can’t see you again.
Gomen, mou kareshi ga imasu.
Sorry, I already have a boyfriend.
Kyoumi ga nai desu.
I am not interested.

Now that you have learned some Japanese love vocabulary and phrases, you can now understand and navigate the unique Japanese love confessing and dating culture. You can pick up more words by watching more anime and reality shows.

Alexis Papa

Alexis is a Japanese language and culture enthusiast from the Philippines. She is a Japanese Studies graduate, and has worked as an ESL and Japanese instructor at a local language school. She enjoys her free time reading books and watching series.

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