70 ways to say I love you in Japanese & share your true feelings

Do you love a Japanese person and tell them so in their language? Excellent! This article guides someone sweet like you through the delicate business of the Japanese love language.

“We don’t really say ‘I love you’ in Japanese, do we?” I asked my Japanese friends. “No, not really”, said everyone I’d asked. There are equivalent phrases in Japanese, and you see and hear them a lot in films, TV shows, books, or anime. But those are not part of our everyday language.

Then how do Japanese people express love? And how would YOU tell your beloved Japanese person you love them?

Rest assured; in this post, you’ll learn the cultural context and some useful phrases so your words won't be taken as inappropriate or over the top.

Table of contents

Keep these in mind when using the Japanese love language

A man sings a love sone to his girlfriend in Japanese.

Status matters: polite and casual expressions

Whenever you speak Japanese, the relationship between you and the person/people you talk to determines the type of language you use. You’re expected to use polite language if the person has a higher status, is a stranger, or is not close to you. With your peers or people who are younger than you, casual language would sound natural. This rule applies to the Japanese love language, too.

For instance, to your teacher, senior coworker, or parent-in-law, it's recommended to use polite language. People may use polite language to show their seriousness, regardless of the status of the listener.

There are several ways to address ‘you’ in Japanese. Here are the basic ones;

君 (きみ - kimi)
This can be used only to call someone who is your peer or has lower status than you.

あなた (あなた - anata)
This is a polite word used to call someone who is older than you, has higher status than you, or is a stranger or unfamiliar to you.

As we’re exploring intimate language, the person’s name would sound more natural than the pronouns like ‘君’ or ‘あなた’.

Love expression in the Japanese culture

In general, Japanese people don’t verbally express their love much. It’s part of the ‘read between the lines’ culture, in which people think they’re showing love through their actions. (It can be incredibly subtle!) It may be something that shows their loyalty or kindness rather than affectionate gestures. You might’ve heard that public displays of affection are commonly not well-received in Japan, too.

This means the love language can be immensely special. If you whisper words of adoration into the ear of your Japanese love, they may respond by a) swooning, b) giggling (out of shyness, awkwardness, or thinking you’re too dramatic), or c) looking upset. It really depends on the person and the relationship between you and them.

How would you have your genuine feelings understood then?

Be yourself. Just choose your words carefully. Closely watch the reaction. If they are smiling yet look as if they have no clue what to say, it’s always good to ask how they feel. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to explore the love language you both feel comfortable with and cherish?

Media vs reality

I have a bunch of non-Japanese friends who are learning or have learned Japanese through manga and anime. It’s a fun way to study, but no matter how realistic the show seems, the characters' lines may sound theatrical or inauthentic. Often there’s a HUMONGOUS gap between everyday Japanese and media Japanese.

Translations are not always accurate, either. (AI has a long way to go to reach a decent level in this regard.) Or the translation makes sense only in the specific context. The wonder of the super-high-contextual language, that is.

It’s safe to ask your Japanese teacher or friends what the expression sounds like when it comes from you. Or if you’ve already built some trust between the Japanese person you love, just try it out and see how it goes! If it wasn’t received well, clarify that you picked the line from a show and ask for feedback. Who wouldn’t admire people aspiring to learn?

How to say I love you in Japanese

Alrightie. Let’s look at some useful phrases!

I love you in Japanese.

The basics

These are the basic Japanese expressions for “I love you”.

EnglishHiraganaKanji + HiraganaRomajiNote
I love you.(きみを)あいしてる。(君を)愛してる。(Kimi o) Aishiteru.Casual yet serious
(あなたを)あいしています。(あなたを)愛しています。(Anata o) Aishiteimasu.Polite, formal, and serious
(きみが)だいすきだよ。(君が)大好きだよ。(Kimi ga) Daisukida yo.Casual
(あなたが)だいすきです。(あなたが)大好きです。(Anata ga) Daisukidesu.Polite
(きみが)すきだよ。(君が)好きだよ。(Kimi ga) Sukida yo.Casual
(あなたが)すきです。(あなたが)好きです。(Anata ga) Sukidesu.Polite

* Romaji: Character that represents written Japanese using the English alphabet

‘愛’ (あい - ai) literally means ‘love’ and is considered a big word. The first two phrases are rarely used in everyday conversation as they sound massively serious. If you’re indeed serious and want to stress it’s ‘love’, not just ‘like’, then go for these expressions.

‘好き’ (すき suki) means ‘like’, and the Japanese use this word more when expressing love. When someone says ‘大好き’ (だいすき - daisuki), it usually means they love someone or something, though it may or may not indicate romantic feelings.

Is ‘好き’ alone enough to show your love? It depends on the context and your non-verbal expressions. If you look someone in the eye so devotedly and say “好きだよ” — it might make their heart pound.

‘よ’ (yo) comes at the end of a phrase in a casual expression. It indicates you’re pretty sure about what you’re saying and that you’re really talking to the person.

Both ‘君’ (きみ - kimi) and ‘あなた’ (anata) are often omitted because it’s clear that you’re talking to this person and nobody else. Not leaving out the words in the brackets in the table would add a bit more formality.

Seriously, romantically, “I love you.”

Phrases with ‘愛’ can be perceived as dramatic, and ‘好き’ can sound like casual ‘like’. But these below would unmistakably show that you love the person in all seriousness.

I love you in Japanese.

EnglishHiraganaKanji + HiraganaRomajiNote
I love you so much.(きみを) すごくあいしてる。(君を)すごく愛してる。(Kimi o) Sugoku aishiteru.Casual
(あなたを)とてもあいしています。(あなたを)とても愛しています。(Anata o) Totemo aishiteimasu.Polite
(きみが)すごくすきだよ。(君が)すごく好きだよ。(Kimi ga) Sugoku sukida yo.Casual
(あなたが)とてもすきです。(あなたが)とても好きです。(Anata ga) Totemo sukidesu.Polite
I really love you.(きみを)ほんとうにあいしてる。(君を)本当に愛してる。(Kimi o) Hontōni aishiteru.Casual
(あなたを)ほんとうにあいしています。(あなたを)本当に愛しています。(Anata o) Hontōni aishiteimasu.Polite
(きみが)ほんとうにすきだよ。(君が)本当に好きだよ。(Kimi ga) Hontōni sukida yo.Casual
(あなたが)ほんとうにすきです。(あなたが)本当に好きです。(Anata ga) Hontōni sukidesu.Polite
I love you more than anyone else.ほかのだれよりも(きみを)あいしてる。他の誰よりも(君を)愛してる。Hoka no dare yori mo (kimi o) aishiteru.Casual
ほかのだれよりも(あなたを)あいしています。他の誰よりも(あなたを)愛しています。Hoka no dare yori mo (anata o) aishiteimasu.Polite
ほかのだれよりも(きみが)すきだよ。他の誰よりも(君が)好きだよ。Hoka no dare yori mo (kimi ga) sukida yo.Casual
ほかのだれよりも(あなたが)すきです。他の誰よりも(あなたが)好きです。Hoka no dare yori mo (anata ga) sukidesu.Polite
I love you, too.わたしも(きみを)あいしてるよ。私も(君を)愛してるよ。Watashi mo (kimi o) aishiteru yo.Casual
わたしも(あなたを)あいしています。私も(あなたを)愛しています。Watashi mo (anata o) aishiteimasu.Polite
わたしも(きみが)すきだよ。私も(君が)好きだよ。Watashi mo (kimi ga) sukida yo.Casual
わたしも(あなたが)すきです。私も(あなたが)好きです。Watashi mo (anata ga) sukidesu.Polite
I’ve never loved someone like this.こんなにだれかをすきになったのは、はじめてだよ。こんなに誰かを好きになったのは、初めてだよ。Kon’nani dareka o suki ni natta no wa hajimete dayo. (Casual)The literal translation is more like, “It’s the first time I love someone this much.”
こんなにだれかをすきになったのは、はじめてです。こんなに誰かを好きになったのは、初めてです。Kon’nani dareka o suki ni natta no wa hajimete desu. (Polite)As above

Confessing love

‘Love confession’ is one of the unique aspects of the Japanese relationship culture. While the Japanese typically don't articulate their affection, it's common that they confess their love and confirm each other's feelings before officially starting a relationship.

EnglishHiraganaKanji + HiraganaRomajiNote
Will you be in a relationship with me?わたし / ぼく と つきあってくれる?私 / 僕 と付き合ってくれる?Watashi/Boku to tsukiatte kureru?Casual
Would you be in a relationship with me?わたし / ぼく と つきあってくれますか?私 / 僕 と付き合ってくれますか?Watashi/Boku to tsukiatte kuremasuka?Polite
I want you to be my boyfriend.かれしになってほしい。彼氏になってほしい。Kareshi ni natte hoshii.Casual
Would you be my boyfriend?かれしになってくれませんか?彼氏になってくれませんか?Kareshi ni natte kuremasenka?Polite
I want you to be my girlfriend.かのじょになってほしい。彼女になってほしい。Kanojo ni natte hoshii.Casual
Would you be my girlfriend?かのじょになってくれませんか?彼女になってくれませんか?Kanojo ni natte kuremasenka?Polite
I’ve always loved you.ずっとすきだった。ずっと好きだった。Zutto sukidatta.Casual
ずっとすきでした。ずっと好きでした。Zutto sukideshita.Polite

How to say I like you in Japanese

How do you say when you like someone but it’s not love (yet)? Or you don't mean anything romantic? I imagine it can be a difficult question in any culture. Someone says you’re cute, and you might think it’s just a compliment or they have a crush on you. Someone asks you out for dinner, and it might be a date, or they simply want to hang out with you. We need a communication class AND a language lesson, don't we?

Man takes the plunge and tells his friend I like you in Japanese.

Anyway, here’s a tip; when you mean non-romantic affection with the word ‘好き’, you should be crystal clear about your intention. You might say ‘好き’ to your pal, thinking they’re a good friend, and they start behaving rather awkwardly since then… One way to avoid that kind of situation is to use different words that describe your feelings more specifically. Clarifying your intention helps, too.

Look at the table below — you’ve already seen the first four phrases in the basic 'I love you' section. Is it love or like? It depends on the narrative, context, relationship, or how you say it.

EnglishHiraganaKanji + HiraganaRomajiNote
I like you.すきだよ。好きだよ。Sukida yo.Casual
I like you a lot.だいすきだよ。大好きだよ。Daisukida yo.Casual
It’s fun to be with you.きみといるとたのしい。君といると楽しい。Kimi to iru to tanoshii.Casual
あなたといるとたのしいです。あなたといると楽しいです。Anata to iru to tanoshii desu.Polite
I like that part of you.きみのそういうところがすき。君のそういうところが好き。Kimi no sōiu tokoro ga suki. (Casual)“That part” may be a charming trait like kindness. Make it clear you’re not making fun of it.
あなたのそういうところがすきです。あなたのそういうところが好きです。Anata no sōuiu tokoro ga suki desu. (Polite)As above.
You’re like a cute little brother/sister to me.きみってかわいいおとうと / いもうとみたい。君って可愛い弟 / 妹みたい。Kimi tte kawaii otōto / imōto mitai.Casual
I’m glad you’re here/there.きみがいてくれてよかった。君がいてくれてよかった。Kimi ga ite kurete yokatta.Casual
あなたがいてくれてよかったです。あなたがいてくれてよかったです。Anata ga ite kurete yokatta desu.Polite
I respect you.(きみを)そんけいするよ。(君を)尊敬するよ。(Kimi o) sonkeisuru yo.Casual
(あなたを)そんけいします。(あなたを)尊敬します。(Anata o) sonkeishimasu.Polite
Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?かれし / かのじょはいるの?彼氏 / 彼女はいるの?Kareshi/Kanojo wa iru no?Casual
かれし / かのじょはいるんですか?彼氏 / 彼女はいるんですか?Kareshi/Kanojo wa irundesuka?Polite
I want to know more about you.きみのこと、もっとしりたい。君のこと、もっと知りたい。Kimi no koto, motto shiritai.Casual
あなたのことを、もっとしりたいです。あなたのことを、もっと知りたいです。Anata no koto o motto shiritai desu.Polite
I wish someone like you would be my boyfriend/girlfriend.きみみたいなひとがかれし / かのじょだったらいいのに。君みたいな人が彼氏 / 彼女だったらいいのに。Kimi mitaina hito ga kareshi/kanojo dattara iinoni.Casual
あなたみたいなかたがかれし / かのじょだったらいいのに。あなたみたいな方が彼氏 / 彼女だったらいいのに。Anata mitaina kata ga kareshi/kanojo dattara iinoni.Polite
I want to see you again.またあいたいな。また会いたいな。Mata aitai na.Casual
またあいたいです。また会いたいです。Mata aitai desu.Polite

You make me feel…

How do you know you’re in love? These feelings may be the indicator.

EnglishHiraganaKanji + HiraganaRomajiNote
I miss you so badly.きみがこいしくてしかたない。君が恋しくてしかたない。Kimi ga koishikute shikatanai.Casual
あなたがこいしくてしかたがありません。あなたが恋しくてしかたがありません。Anata ga koishikute shikata ga arimasen.Polite
When I’m with you, I can be myself.きみといると、じぶんらしくいられる。君といると、自分らしくいられる。Kimi to iru to, jibun rashiku irareru.Casual
あなたといると、じぶんらしくいられます。あなたといると、自分らしくいられます。Anata to iru to, jibun rashiku iraremasu.Polite
I’ve never felt this way.こんなきもちになったのは、はじめてだよ。こんな気持ちになったのは、初めてだよ。Kon’na kimochi ni natta no wa, hajimete dayo.Casual
こんなきもちになったのは、はじめてです。こんな気持ちになったのは、初めてです。Kon’na kimochi ni natta no wa, hajimete desu.Polite
When I’m with you, it feels like I can be strong.きみといると、つよくなれるきがする。君といると、強くなれる気がする。Kimi to iru to, tsuyoku nareru ki ga suru.Casual
あなたといると、つよくなれるきがします。あなたといると、強くなれる気がします。Anata to iru to, tsuyoku nareru ki ga shimasu.Polite

Will you marry me?

You're 100% positive that you'll love that person through the peaks and valleys of life. When you propose, forget the fact that Japanese people are reserved about love expressions. Focus on what makes your partner happy. Be sincere, be you. Good luck, my friend.

Japanese wedding.

EnglishHiraganaKanji + HiraganaRomajiNote
Will you marry me?けっこんしてくれる?結婚してくれる?Kekkon shite kureru?Casual
けっこんしてくれませんか?結婚してくれませんか?Kekkon shite kuremasuka?Polite
I want to marry you.きみとけっこんしたい。君と結婚したい。Kimi to kekkon shitai.Casual
Please marry me.けっこんしてください。結婚してください。Kekkonshite kudasai.Polite
I’d like to marry you.あなたとけっこんしたいです。あなたと結婚したいです。Anata to kekkon shitai desu.Polite
I want to spend the rest of my life with you.これからのじんせいを、きみといっしょにすごしたい。これからの人生を、君と一緒に過ごしたい。Korekara no jinsei o kimi to issho ni sugoshitai.Casual
I’d like to walk with you for the rest of my life.これからのじんせいを、あなたといっしょにあゆんでいきたいです。これからの人生を、あなたと一緒に歩んでいきたいです。Korekara no jinsei o anata to issho ni ayunde ikitai desu.Polite
I want to be family with you.きみとかぞくになりたい。君と家族になりたい。Kimi to kazoku ni naritai.Casual
あなたとかぞくになりたいです。あなたと家族になりたいです。Anata to kazoku ni naritai desu.Polite

Japanese love songs

Love is a universal theme in music. Even the Japanese who don’t feel comfortable vocal about love may sing, “あいしてる” (Aishiteru).

Here are some Japanese love songs popular among a wide range of generations. If you sang your heart out and noticed your audience looking overwhelmed, just smile at them, "It’s a great song, isn’t it?”

  • やさしさで溢れるように (Yasashisa de afureru youni) by JUJU
    The title translates, 'I wish everything that surrounds you overflows with kindness.' Love makes you strong and determined.
  • 君が好き (Kimi ga suki) by Mr. Children
    When you love someone, and nothing else matters.
  • 歌うたいのバラッド (Utautai no baraddo) by 斉藤正義 (Saito Masayoshi)
    This ‘Singer’s Ballad’ tells you how difficult it can be to say, “I love you” even when you’re deeply in love.

Love quotes / proverbs

Wise men and women said...

EnglishHiraganaKanji + HiraganaRomajiNote
Love is blind.こいはもうもく。恋は盲目。Koi wa moumoku.‘Koi’ means romantic love.
Love me little, love me long.あいはこだしにせよ。愛は小出しにせよ。Ai wa kodashi ni seyo.Originally an English saying, but the latter part is omitted in Japanese.
There’s no medicine for lovesickness.ほれたやまいにくすりなし。惚れた病に薬なし。Horeta yamai ni kusuri nashi.Also said as ‘Koi no yamai ni kusuri nashi’.
At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.あいにふれると、だれもがしじんになる。愛に触れると、誰もが詩人になる。Ai ni fureru to, dare mo ga shijin ni naru.…said Plato. Possibly useful when someone thinks you’re poetic or dramatic because of love.
To love is not a state but an act of creation.あいするとはじょうたいではなくつくるこういです。愛するとは状態ではなく創る行為です。Aisuru to wa jōtai dewa naku tsukuru kōi desu.Quote by Shūsaku Endō, a Japanese author.
When one door shuts, another door opens.すてるかみあればひろうかみあり。捨てる神あれば拾う神あり。Suteru kami areba hirou kami ari.Literal translation is ‘There is one god that throws you away, and another god who picks you up.’

All you need is love… and communication.

No matter how you express your love, people will probably get you if they know that's your natural way. In addition to learning how to say I love you in Japanese, investing in communication to learn about each other helps you achieve your goal — whether it's to let people know you love them or to be reciprocated.

There is no single answer to how you should address love in Japanese 'correctly'. Keep exploring. And don't be discouraged by the subtlety of Japanese communication manners.

Continue learning Japanese vocabulary on our Japanese blog.

Call Us


Find out more

Fill in the form below and we’ll contact you to discuss your learning options and answer any questions you may have.