46 authentic ways to say I love you in Japanese in the right context


Kate Sato

So, you’ve fallen for someone Japanese and want to let them know? Trying to understand the intricacies of dating in Japan?

Perhaps you’re wanting to understand the new TV show or manga that you’re into, or maybe you just want to learn how to express affection in another language.

Whatever your reason, you’ve stumbled on a very interesting topic, and you’re in the right place! Here are some great reasons to learn how to say I love you in Japanese:

1. Learn to express yourself in Japanese

Expressing yourself in new languages is a great way to challenge yourself and expand your world, plus you never know when it’ll come in handy!

2. Further your understanding of Japanese culture

Through this topic, you’ll take a deep dive into some of the cultural differences between Western society and Japan.

3. Impress your Japanese partner, friends, family and avoid potential awkwardness

As you’ll learn, expressing affection in Japan is quite different to what you may be used to. By reading up you’ll make sure to know what to say to whom without committing a faux-pas.

4. Understand TV shows, manga, and music

One of the best things about learning to say I love you in Japanese is that it will give you a deeper understanding of your favorite Japanese media, as the nuances between different ways of expressing feelings is often lost in a literal translation of words.

Are you ready?

How to say I love you in Japanese

For starters, here’s a little context.

In Japanese culture it’s actually very uncommon to verbally express affection in the way that we are used to in the West. While it might feel normal to text “I love you” to your significant other at random points in the day, in Japan that would be considered extremely intense!

In Japanese culture, love is something you demonstrate, not something you tell. Affection tends to be shown through behavior and actions rather than using words. Even between people who’ve been together for years, it’s very rare for the words “I love you” to be expressed out loud, as the understanding is already there without either person feeling like it needs to be said.

To a boyfriend, girlfriend and/or romantic love

So, how do you say I love you in Japanese?

The literal translation of I love you in Japanese is 愛してる(aishiteru), but this isn’t very commonly used, even in romantic situations. It’s a very “big” word and concept, a poetic ideal that implies a love that has been built over time, with a deep and profound respect for the other person. Even if that’s the case between two people, it’s still rare to express that verbally.

More commonly used is 好きだよ(sukidayo), which literally means “I like you”. 好き(suki) is used exactly as you use the world “like” in English, so it’s appropriate for platonic situations and more generally to refer to anything you like. So for example, ラーメンが好きです(ramen ga suki desu) means “I like ramen”. But it’s also the most commonly used phrase for expressing romantic interest, with context being the most important thing in differentiating between romantic and platonic situations.

The place where you’ll hear 愛(ai) being used a lot is on TV dramas, films, mangas and music- these often use 愛(ai) to add dramatic and romantic value to the story or song, so just be aware that this isn’t a reflection of daily life.

Now that you understand the context, here are some expressions using 愛(ai). Just remember- you wouldn’t use these unless you’re already very close to the person in question, and even then only on very special and/or emotional occasions.

Man learns how to say I love you in Japanese.

EnglishJapanese (Hiragana)Japanese (Katakana)KanjiJapanese pronunciation spelled out in English
I love youあいしてるアイシテル愛してるai shiteru
I love you tooわたし・ぼくもあなたをあいしてるワタシ・ボクモアナタヲアイシテル私・僕もあなたを愛してるwatashi/ boku mo anata wo ai shiteru
I love you so muchすごくあいしてるスゴクアイシテルすごく愛してるsugoku ai shiteru
I love you moreもっとあいしてるモットアイシテルもっと愛してるmotto ai shiteru
I love you very muchとてもあいしてるトテモアイシテルとても愛してるtotemo ai shiteru
I love you with all my heartこころのそこからあいしてるココロノソコカラアイシテル心の底から愛してるkokoro no soko kara ai shiteru
I love you more than life itselfいきてることよりあいしてるイキテルコトヨリアイシテル生きてることより愛してるikiteru koto yori ai shiteru
I love you more than anythingなによりもあいしてるナニヨリモアイシテル何よりも愛してるnaniyorimo ai shiteru
I still love youまだあいしてるマダアイシテルまだ愛してるmada ai shiteru
I adore youだいすきだよダイスキダヨ大好きだよdaisuki dayo

To a friend, family member or platonic love

While the same rule applies that people don’t generally feel the need to use words to express that their love, when saying I love you in Japanese to a friend or family member, you would use 好き (suki) or 大好き(daisuki), which literally means “I like you a lot”, but carries the connotation of “love” when used in this context.

Mother tells her young child I love you in Japanese.

EnglishHiraganaKatakanaKanjiJapanese pronunciation
I love you momだいすきだよ、ままダイスキダヨ、ママ大好きだよ、ママdaisuki dayo, mama
I love you dadだいすきだよ、ぱぱダイスキダヨ、パパ大好きだよ、パパdaisuki dayo, papa
I love you grandmaだいすきだよ、おばあちゃんダイスキダヨ、オバアチャン大好きだよ、おばちゃんdaisuki dayo, obachan
I love you grandpaだいすきだよ、おじいちゃんダイスキダヨ、オジイチャン大好きだよ、おじいちゃんdaisuki dayo, ojichan
I love you allみんなだいすきだよミンナダイスキダヨ皆大好きだよminna daisuki dayo
I love you guysあなたたちだいすきだよアナタタチダイスキダヨあなた達だい好きだよanatatachi daisuki dayo
I love Taco Bellたこべるだいすきタコベルダイスキタコベル大好きtakoberu daisuki
I love you as a friendともだちとして好きですトモダチトシテスキデス友達として好きですtomodachi to shite suki desu

How to say I like you in Japanese

Ready to take the plunge and take your relationship to the next level? Want to know what to say to that person at the bar who’s been looking your way all night? This is the section for you, where we’ll learn ways of expressing romantic feelings at the earlier stages of a relationship.

Once again, we’ll use 好き(suki) and its variations, which are used to express all sorts of love. These phrases are also appropriate for people already in a relationship - in fact, given the heavy nature of 愛してる(aishiteru), you might be better off using these too.

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

EnglishHiraganaKatakanaKanjiJapanese pronunciation
I like youすきだよスキダヨ好きだよsukidayo
I like you lotsだいすきだよダイスキダヨ大好きだよdaisuki dayo
I like you so muchすごくすきだよスゴクスキダヨすごく好きだよsugoku suki dayo
I really like youとてもすきだよトテモスキダヨとても好きだよtotemo suki dayo
I like you tooわたし・ぼくもあなたがすきだよワタシ・ボクモアナタガスキダヨ私・僕もあなたが好きだよwatashi/boku mo anataga suki dayo
I want to see you againまたあいたいですマタアイタイデスまた会いたいですmata aitai desu
When will we see each other again?こんどいつあえますか?コンドイツアエマスカ?今度いつ会えますか?kondo itsu aemasuka?
I have a crush on youこいしいですコイシイデス恋しいですkoishii desu
Will you go out with me?つきあってくれる?ツキアッテクレル?付き合ってくれる?tsukiatte kureru?
Will you go out on a date with me?デートに行ってくれますか?でーとにいってくれますか?デートニイッテクレマスカ?dēto ni itte kuremasuka?
Will you go out with me? (formal)つきあってくれますか?ツキアッテクレマスカ?付き合ってくれますか?tsukiatte kuremasuka?
I’m crazy about youあなたにむちゅうですアナタニムチュウデスあなたに夢中ですanatani muchū desu
I think I like youすきだとおもうスキダトオモウ好きだと思うsukidato omou
It’s love at first sightひとめぼれだヒトメボレダ一目惚れだhitomebore da

Will you marry me? in Japanese

Ready to pop the big question? Although many Japanese couples won’t necessarily say 愛してる(aishiteru), even during a proposal, it’s probably one of the situations in which you can definitely get away with saying the phrase without seeming over the top. Here are some other phrases that might come in handy.

Japanese wedding.





Japanese pronunciation

Will you marry me?




kekkon shite kuremasuka?

I will make you happy forever




ishou shiawase ni shimasu

I will love you forever




ishou ai shitsuzukemasu

I can’t imagine life without you




anata ga inai jinsei wa kangaerarenai

Will you make me the happiest woman in the world?




sekai ichi shiawase na onna ni shite kuremasuka?

Will you make me the happiest man in the world?




sekai ichi shiawase na otoko ni shite kuremasuka?

Let’s be together




isho ni iyou

Love quotes in Japanese

Want to take your Japanese to the next level? Here are some phrases and sayings about love in Japanese that you can use to impress your crush or loved ones.

EnglishHiraganaKatakanaKanjiJapanese pronunciation
Love someone and forget their ugliness. (Meaning: when you love someone, you see only their good parts)あいしてそのしゅうをわすれるアイシテソノシュウヲワスレル愛してその醜を忘るai shite sono shū o wasureru
Love will even reach the crows on the roof. (Meaning: a person who is in love will love even the crows on the roof)あい、おくうにおよぶアイ、オクウニオヨブ愛、屋烏に及ぶai, okū ni oyobu
Take love slowly (Meaning: It’s better to love someone bit by bit over a long period of time)あいはこだしにせよアイワコダシニセヨ愛は小出しにせよai wa kodashi ni seyo

Romantic Japanese songs

Yuki no hana by Mika Nakashima

This famous song from 2003 has been translated and covered around the world. It’s a sentimental song about shared moments between lovers watching the first snowfall.

Ai-uta by GreeeeN

Here’s another classic, this time more upbeat, from boyband GreeeeN about someone that just can’t contain his love for his partner and needs to sing about it!

Kekkon Shiyouyo- Takuro Yoshida

And finally, a good vibe oldie from Takuro Yoshida called 結婚しようよ, or “Let’s get married”.

Ready to spread the love?

Now you should be feeling more confident about expressing love and romantic interest in Japanese, and understand some more about the nuances of Japanese culture. The general rule is: if in doubt, use 好き(suki) over 愛(ai), and make sure to back up your words with your actions!

If you’re still feeling shy about confessing your feelings, no fear- if you demonstrate your feelings through consistent kind actions, you’ll likely have just as much success as the characters on TV who seem to be constantly declaring their 愛(ai)!

And on the flipside, if your partner or the object of your affections doesn’t instantly return your declarations of love, remember that this is normal in Japanese culture and it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you! Just look out for other ways they are telling you – with little gifts, the way they look out for you and care about you.

Feeling inspired? If you want to dive deeper, you can learn Japanese online or take a look at our Japanese classes.

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