Love in Japanese + 50 ways to say I love you

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Ever wondered how the Japanese express their feelings? Did you know that in Japan there are several ways to say love in Japanese? In this article, we will explain the different ways of saying I love you in Japanese, as well as distinguishing the three main ways AI, KOI and SUKI.

One of the most important words in any language is “love”. In Japanese there are 3 main ways to say you love a person:

  • Ai [愛];
  • Suki [好き];
  • Koi [恋];

In addition, several variations and conjugations are used to express this feeling.

Japan is made up of 47 prefectures, each with different customs and dialects, so basically we can guarantee that there are over 100 ways to express love and affection with words in the Japanese language.

We also recommend reading:

How to say love in Japanese?

There are 3 main ways to say love or I love you in Japanese. The most common and generic is "suki desu" the name of our website. There is a more intimate one called "koi" and a more powerful one called "ai". Shall we differentiate each one of them?

Suki - 好き - It literally means "like". It is the most common way of saying that you love or like something, be it a person, food or something else. Before saying "suki" you can add "dai" to say that you like it a lot or even love it. The term "dai" [大] means great love.

We recommend reading: What does Suki Desu mean?

Ouch - 愛 - It literally means "Love". If it is followed by "shiteru" [愛してる], you are saying that you love the person in a more intimate way. "Aishiteru" is more used when you are in a serious relationship, married or engaged.

Koi - 恋 - It also means love, but in a more romantic, intense and fiery way. It can be translated as passion, it is used between people in an intimate way, a true love.

Love in Japanese - how to say 'I love you' in Japanese

The Japanese, especially young people, also often use “rabu” [ラブ], an English word for love. When there is a romantic mood, people use the onomatopoeia raburabu [ラブラブ].

Did you know? Does the crane bird or famous Tsuru from Japanese origami symbolize conjugal love and fidelity? Read more: How to Make Tsuru Origami + Legend

In short - I love you in Japanese can be:

  • Aishiteru - 愛してる - I Love You in Japanese (super intimate, between couples);
  • Koishiteru - 恋してる - I Love You in Japanese (I'm starting to fall in love with you);
  • I like you - 好きです - I like you in Japanese;
  • Dai suki desu - 大好きです - I really like you in Japanese;

The video below talks more about it:

YouTube video
Love in Japanese - how to say 'I love you' in Japanese

The love present in Japanese ideograms

Note that the ideogram of AI [愛] and KOI [恋] have within it the radical (part) of Kokoro [心] which means heart. This shows us that the Japanese language itself in its writing manages to show that this feeling of love is linked to the heart.

The other way to express feelings (好 - Suki) is composed with the ideograms of woman [女] and child [子], once again showing the love of a mother for her child and vice versa. It is interesting to know how feelings are expressed in the word itself.

See too: Bushu - Radicals - Kanji structures and their variants

Other expressions of affection in kanji, Japanese ideograms are:

  • 色 - Even the simple color kanji can be related to love, lust and sensuality;
  • 情 - Kanji present in some words related to love that can indicate feelings, emotion, passion, affection and affection;
  • — To follow, idolize, love, adore, admire, have affection, desire;
  • 挑 - excitement, stimulation, provocation;
  • 参 - This ideogram means confused, but it can portray the feelings of being in love, defeated, being madly in love;

Did you know that there is a Japanese word called Aiaigasa [相合傘] which means to share the umbrella, but its true meaning refers to love due to the aiai that resembles [愛愛].

Read also: Aiaigasa - Romantic gesture of sharing an umbrella

Other words related to love in Japanese

There are many other words that express love, but you need to be careful because each one conveys a different idea. Below we will list some words related to love in Japanese.

  • 恋愛 - renai - It means love, affections, making love, passion, and falling in love.
  • 愛好 - aijou - It means adoration.
  • 情け - nasake - Sympathy, mercy, affection, and love;
  • 恋慕 - renbo - Tender emotions, passion and love;
  • 片思い - kataomoi - Unrequited love;
Love in Japanese - how to say 'I love you' in Japanese

Below we will see some more Japanese words that have the Kanji of love:

Words with "Ai (愛)"Words with "Koi (恋)"
愛読書 aidokusho
Favorite book
初恋 hatsukoi
First love
愛人 aijin
Lover
悲恋 hiren
tragic love, sad love, ruined
愛情 aijou
love, affection
恋人 koibito
Boyfriend
愛犬家 aikenka
dog lover
恋文 koibumi
Love letter
愛国心 aikokushin
Patriotism
恋敵 koigataki
rival in love
愛車 aisha
favorite car
恋に落ちる koi ni ochiru
fall in love, fall in love
愛用する aiyousuru
favored, usual
恋する koisuru
be in love with
母性愛 boseiai
mother's love
恋愛 renai
romantic love
博愛 hakuai
philanthropy
失恋 shitsuren
disappointing love

Here are some interesting words involving romance and marriage:

  • Renai-kekkon [恋愛結婚] - A marriage for love;
  • Miai-kekkon [見合い結婚] - Arranged marriage;
  • Renai-shousetsu [恋愛小説] - A love story or a romance;
Love in Japanese - how to say 'I love you' in Japanese

Japanese Proverbs about Love and Passion

Here are some Japanese proverbs that use the word KOI:

恋に師匠なし
Koi ni shishou nashi
Love needs no teaching.
恋に上下の隔てなし
Koi ni jouge no hedate nashi
Love makes all men equal.
恋は思案のほか
Koi wa shian no hoka
Love is without reason.
恋は盲目
Koi wa moumoku.
Love is blind.
恋は熱しやすく冷めやすい.
Koi wa nesshi yasuku same yasui
Love goes deep easily, but cools down quickly.

Love in Japanese Tattoo and Gaara

A very common act is to get a love tattoo in Japanese [愛], even Gaara from the anime Naruto has this tattoo in red on his forehead. Without a doubt, if you want to tattoo love in Japanese, the ideogram AI [愛] is the most suitable. If you want, you can also tattoo the KOI passion character [恋] or a mixture like [恋愛].

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

Using koto to say I love you in Japanese

Perhaps you have noticed that in Japanese culture the expression Koto [事] is used when someone expresses their feelings saying I love you as in the expression: anata no koto ga dai suki desu [あなたのことが大好きです]

Why do the Japanese use Koto in this expression? What is the importance of adding it? As Koto literally means figurative things, can we say that Koto [こと] in the sentence encompasses the object (you) more?

It would be as if I were saying “I love everything about you”, or everything about you. This expression makes it clear that you love the person in a romantic way, rather than simply saying that you like the person as someone.

It is quite essential, especially when we use the expression Suki Desu. We will be showing a genuine love, which focuses on quality and the inner person, on things unseen. Koto conveys the depth of your love for the person.

We also recommend reading: Thing in Japanese - Meaning of Koto and Mono

Love in Japanese - how to say 'I love you' in Japanese

Kokuhaku and Tsukiatte Kudasai - Declaring feelings

The act of declaring and exposing your feelings in Japanese even has an expression which is Kokuhaku [告白]. This word literally means to confess or declare feelings. Usually the Japanese do it themselves.

Read also: Kokuhaku e Tsukiatte Kudasai – Declaration and Dating in Japan

Right after saying expressions like I love you (suki desu) the person needs to ask for a date. This dating request is made using the expression Tsukiatte Kudasai [付き合ってください] which literally means go out with me or date me.

These two steps to declare your feelings and start a relationship, even if it's a simple and first date, is something very emotional and romantic that is highlighted in Japanese anime and dramas.

Love in Japanese - how to say 'I love you' in Japanese

Tsuki ga Kirei [月がきれい] - The moon is beautiful

A poetic way of saying I love you in Japanese is the expression “The moon is beautiful”, that is, Tsuki Ga Kirei [月がきれい]. It all started with famous writer Soukeki Natsumi (1867-1916) who answered the question How do you translate “I Love You” into Japanese?

This writer is so famous that his face is stamped on the 1000 yen note. This expression also makes perfect sense, especially for those who cannot easily confess their love, and use expressions like this.

It has appeared in several anime, there is even an anime with that name that well represents the meaning of this expression.

月がきれいですね tsuki ga kirei desu ne

It is very likely that this expression was chosen because of the similarity between the word Tsuki [月] and Suki [好き], not to mention the fact that it uses the word beautiful and beautiful, like the Moon, a very romantic symbol.

Love in Japanese - how to say 'I love you' in Japanese

Ki ni naru and Ki ni itteiru - Liking Someone

Although Suki [好き] is commonly translated as liking, it is usually used to show real romantic feelings for the person. And when are we just starting to like or like someone? There are other expressions for this purpose.

  • Ki ni itteru [気に入ってる] = Is enjoying, liking;
  • Ki ni naru [気になる] = Starting to like or enjoy;

An expression widely used by young people, especially in reality shows. Its use can also be used to things and objects. Even the internet like button is written using similar ideograms.

Romantic Expressions and Love Phrases in Japanese

Below we will leave a table with some phrases and expressions of affection in Japanese, so you can express your feelings with other beautiful words.

We also recommend reading: Singing and Romantic Phrases in Japanese

JapaneseRomajiPortuguese
あそびにいこう!asobiniikou!Let's go out together!
あなたがいないと 寂しyou're not here, I'm lonelyI feel alone without you
あなたが恋しいですI miss youMiss you
カップルです。kappuru desuWe are a couple
キスしたいkisushitaiI want to kiss you
キスしようkisushyouLet's kiss
さわっていい?sawattei?Can I touch you?
ずっと一 緒にいたいAlways want to be togetherI want to be with you always
だきしめたいdakishimetaiI want to hug you
デートに行こう!Let's go on a date.Let's meet
ハグしようhagu shiyoulet's hug
一緒にいると楽しい!It's fun to be togetherI have fun when I'm with you
二人で行こう!ikou's futariLet's go together
大事にしたいdaijini shitaiI value you
守りたいmamoritaiI want to protect you
手をつなごうよLet's hold handslet's hold hands
私と付き合ってください。please date meDate me
結婚しようkekkonshyoumarry me

I love you

わたしは、あなたを愛しています
Watashi wa, anata o aishiteimasu

Love is like the wind, you can't see it, but you can feel it.

愛は風のよう、あなたはそれを見ることはできませんが、それを感じることができます。
ai wa kaze no yō, anata wa sore o miru koto wa dekimasen ga, sore o kanjiru koto ga dekimasu.

Love is just love, it can never be explained!

「愛」はただ単に「愛」である。説明なんてできない。
“Ai” wa tada tan ni “ai” de aru. Setsumei nante dekinai.

Suki Desu in 47 different dialects

Before we talk about love dialects in Japanese, we want to share a video we made summarizing this article. Below is a list of the 47 ways to say I love you in Japanese according to the dialects of the 47 prefectures of Japan:

  1. Aichi: Dera suki ya ni
  2. Akita: Suttage suki da
  3. Aomori: Tange da ba daisuki da yo
  4. Chiba: Daisuki
  5. Ehime: Daisuki yakken
  6. Fukui: Daisuki ya za
  7. Fukuoka: Bari suitoo yo
  8. Fukushima: Suki da
  9. Gifu: Meccha suki ya yo
  10. Gunma: Nakkara daisuki nan sa ne
  11. Hiroshima: Bari daisuki jake
  12. Hokkaido: Namara suki dassho
  13. Hyogo: Meccha suki ya de
  14. Ibaraki: Daisuki de shaanme
  15. Ishikawa: Suki ya yo
  16. Iwate: Zutto daisugi da sukai
  17. Kagawa: Suitoru ken
  18. Kagoshima: Wazzee sujjadoo
  19. Kanagawa: Daisuki
  20. Kochi: Kojanto suki yaki
  21. Kumamoto: Daisuki bai
  22. Kyoto: Honma ni suki ya de
  23. Mie: Meccha suki ya de
  24. Miyagi: Suki desu
  25. Miyazaki: Tege suki yaccha ken
  26. Nagano: Daisuki da yo
  27. Nagasaki: Suki bai
  28. Nara: Honma ni suki ya de
  29. Niigata: Daisuki da kan na
  30. Oita: Zutto zutto daisuki bai
  31. Okayama: Deeree suki jaken
  32. Okinawa: Deeji daisuki saa
  33. Osaka: Meccha daisuki ya de
  34. Saga: Gabai suitoo yo
  35. Saitama: Eree suki nan yo
  36. Shiga: Daisuki ya de
  37. Shimane: Daisuki da ken
  38. Shizuoka: Bakka suki da
  39. Tochigi: Honto daisuki da yo
  40. Tokushima: Honma ni daisuki ya ken
  41. Tokyo: Daisuki
  42. Tottori: Meccha suki
  43. Toyama: Suki ya cha
  44. Wakayama: Meccha suki ya de
  45. Yamagata: Honten daisuki da kan na
  46. Yamaguchi: Buchi suki jakee
  47. Yamanashi: Daisukkitsukon

Maybe you have a friend too lazy to read this giant article, the video can help with that:

YouTube video

Everyone knows that in a language there are dialects, slang and accents. In Japan this is even greater because the country is divided into 47 states, it has existed for thousands of years and also has a complexity in the pronunciation of the language due to the various readings of its ideograms.

For these and other reasons, there are thousands of ways to say "I love you" and even variations in the pronunciations of declaring it by saying "Suki Desu". Finally, let's leave some videos showing how to say "Suki Desu" in some dialects of Japan.

Now you learned to say I love you in Japanese? Do you know how to express love? Hope you enjoyed the article, thanks for sharing and commenting. We also recommend reading:

Hitomebore [一目惚れ] - Love at first sight in Japanese

Love at first sight is a common topic in Western literature, where a person, character, or speaker feels romantic attraction to a stranger as soon as they see him. Described by poets and critics from the Greek world onwards, it has become one of the most powerful tropes in Western fiction.

The Japanese word for love at first sight is Hitomebore [一目惚れ] which means something like literally first sight. It is usually written without the ideogram [惚], but it gives full meaning to the expression Bore.

The ideogram [惚] means falling in love, admiring, being enchanted, or literally falling in love. In addition, by repeating the expression Borebore, we have something like an onomatopoeia that means with affection; with admiration; with fascination; with adoration; with enchantment.

Koi No Yokan [恋の予感] - Love at Second Sight

[恋の予感] Koi No Yokan is one of those Japanese sayings for which there is no real equivalent in English. It's not love at first sight, but some translate it as love at second sight.

It's about a trust in the inevitability of love when you meet someone or a hunch. There is no implication that the feeling of love exists, only that the union is inexorable.

First we have the ideogram for passion and love. Followed by the ideogram [予感] which means something like foreboding; premonition; hunch. So will we be sure if we see the person again? Is that why it's called love at second sight?

The Origin of the Verb "To Love" in Japanese

The verb "amar" and its noun "amor" are well-established words in modern Japanese, used to express a wide range of feelings of affection. They mainly encompass sexual love between men and women, familial love between parents and children, and in some cases, even compassion for animals. However, the presence of these words in the Japanese language is not as old as one might imagine. Their introduction dates back, at most, to the Meiji era.

It is believed that the use of "amar" and "amor" in Japanese originated from the translation of Western literature. This literature often featured themes of sexual love between men and women, something that had no direct equivalent in the Japanese vocabulary at the time. To deal with this gap, translators turned to the term "愛" (ai), originally a Chinese character with various meanings, including "affection" and "care".

Diverse expressions:

Before the introduction of "love," Japanese already had several expressions for different types of love:

  • Sexual love between men and women: 恋う (koou), 慕う (omou), 思ふ (omou), 焦がる (kogareru), 惚れる (horeru)
  • Family love: 大事にする (daiji ni suru), いつくしむ (itsukushimu)
  • Love for animals: 可愛がる (kawaii garu)

Each of these words has specific nuances that differentiate them. For example, "恋う" (koou) implies a burning desire, while "惚れる" (horeru) indicates intense passion.

Using Love as a Nickname?

In Brazil we have affectionate nicknames to use with the partner as love. What if I want to say “good night love” in Japanese? Well, in Japan the most common nicknames used among lovers derive from the English Darling and Honey.

Of course, there are many other affectionate ways to call your boyfriend in Japanese. In case you want to know more affectionate ways to refer to love in Japanese.

We recommend reading: 5 Ways to Create Japanese Nicknames + List

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