It is said that love is universal. That all people, wherever they come from, understand it and express it with actions, gestures or looks. Through our experiences, learning or culture, we know how to give and receive love. However, reality shows that feelings are not shown or perceived in the same way in all countries or cultures. The language of love changes from country to country, from region to region, and even from person to person.
Expressing emotions or saying "I love you" for the first time is not easy in any language, and expressing it in Japanese is no exception. But when love is in the air, it’s time to get romantic. In this article you will learn how to express your emotions and feelings in "Japanese style and we will show you some important things to consider before shouting your love from the rooftops.
In Japan, actions speak louder than words
Numerous studies show, that most human communication is nonverbal. Our gestures and body language are important to convey signals or feelings without having to use words. As we saw in our article on "How to say thank you in Japanese", gestures also play an important role. In Japan, where most communication is indirect, it is important to know the unwritten rules that govern the social life and customs of a country.
Kuuki wo yomu (空気を読む) is a common phrase that has a special value among Japanese people. In German, it literally translates as "reading the air" and is similar to the expression "read between the lines". Japanese avoid direct communication and are usually very subtle when they want to express something. Therefore, when communicating in Japanese, it is important to know how to read between the lines, analyze the situation and pay special attention to gestures and small details.
In most Western countries, it is normal to express our affection to our partners, family or even closest friends with words. Saying "I love you" can be something natural or a reflex, but for a Japanese person it is not so simple. This is why many Japanese do not express their love and feelings openly, but indirectly through gestures and expressions of love.
"I love you" in Japanese
However, this does not mean that Japanese cannot express their feelings or that it is impossible to say "I love you" in the Japanese language. In fact there are some ways to express love and it is important to know how and when to use it. So now it’s time to get romantic!
The kanji of love: Ai (愛) and Koi (恋)
Kanji (漢字) are one of the three Japanese writing systems (although they originated in China) and are based on ideograms. Japanese use more than 2 every day.000 Kanji, mainly to express words or concepts.
Among these thousands of characters there are two that represent the concept of love and appear in some of the words or phrases we will see later. Although these two kanji mean "love" by themselves, they are not exactly the same and there are some subtle differences between them:
- Ai (愛) – Ai symbolizes a feeling of pure love. The kind of love you can show to your partner, but also to your family, friends, or even your pet. Therefore 愛 is the Kanji, with the in Japanese "I love you" is written.
- Koi (恋) – Koi represents Love in a romantic or passionate sense. It is the love between couples or that strange wonderful feeling in the early stages of being in love. Therefore this Kanji also in the expression "to be in love" Uses.
How to say "I love you" in Japanese?
- Ai shiteru (愛してる)
As we have just seen Kanji 愛 (Ai) "love". Therefore "Ai shiteru" the literal translation of "I love you (deeply)". This expression appears in many songs, movies, doramas (Japanese television series), manga or anime. In real life, however, this word is rarely used, because it has a simple and direct meaning.
It points to a deep, romantic and even dramatic love so it is necessary to use this expression carefully and think twice before using it. Ai shiteru you should use towards the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, only in very specific moments.
- Suki (好き)
Suki (好き) means "to like. And this word is used to express that you like something or someone. But as you already know, Japanese people are not as expressive with words as people from other countries, and therefore is Suki the most commonly used word to say "I love you" in Japanese. But you must remember that its meaning depends on the context (think of "Kuuki wo yomu!").
For this reason, you don’t have to run away directly when someone says "Anata ga suki desu (あなたが好きです) says. It does not mean that your date has fallen head over heels in love with you and wants to get married and start a family. In this case the meaning is "I like you". On the other hand, if you are in a long term relationship and your partner is Suki desu it means "I love you".
- Daisuki (大好 き)
Daisuki (大好 き) is Suki quite similar. If you pay attention, you will notice that the way these two sentences are written is practically the same: 大好 き (Daisuki) and 好 き (Suki). The only difference is that Daisuki the Kanji 大 is added, which means "great". So, if Suki means "to like" and Dai "big", which then results in? That’s right, either "great love" or better, "much to like".
Daisuki can be written like Suki can be used for both things and people or animals, but in this case the feeling of "like" is stronger. In a relation can Daisuki will be translated as "I love you, "I like you a lot" or "I love you very much", always taking into account the situation.
"I love you" in different Japanese dialects
As with many other languages, there are also several dialects and accents in Japanese, spread throughout the country. There are some dialects that are so different that even Japanese from other prefectures can’t understand them. But in general, most dialects are not much different from standard Japanese (which is used in Tokyo), only a few words or intonations are changed.
Therefore, depending on your region, you may have heard different ways of saying "I love you" in Japanese. For example, when you are in Tokyo, you will often be Suki dayo (好きだよ) hear, but someone from the Kansai region (関西) is more likely to show you his or her love with a Suki yanen (好きやねん) confess it. When a Japanese person from the cooler Hokkaido (北海道) becomes romantic toward his or her partner, the expression of love is Namara suki dabesa (なまら好きだべさ) are falling. Instead, on the tropical island of Okinawa (沖縄), the Deeji suki saa (でーじ好きさぁ) most widespread. As you can see, even though there are some differences in these examples Suki Used in each of these expressions of love. So don’t worry if you want to say "I love you". If you Suki desu every Japanese man or woman will understand you.
Romantic phrases: The magic of love in Japanese
Of course love does not come suddenly. Before saying "I love you," there are different stages or situations to go through until you are ready for the big moment.
Have you ever fallen in love directly when you met someone for the first time?? In Japanese, this phenomenon is translated as hitomebore suru (一目惚れする) is described and is the equivalent of "Love at first sight". And if you are the kind of person, which is easy to fall in love with, the Japanese may call you horeppoi (惚れっぽい) is described.
When you meet someone, if you want to keep in touch with that person and learn more about him or her, you can express this feeling by saying in Japanese "I am interested in you", says: Kyoumi ga aru (興味がある).
As your interest in this person grows, you may find yourself Butterflies in your stomach feel. But the expression a Japanese person would use in this situation has nothing to do with these beautiful creatures. In this case, a Japanese person who feels heart palpitations can express this sensation with onomatopoeia mune ga doko doki suru (胸がドキドキする), which literally means that the heart beats fast in the chest.
And when you least expect it, maybe Cupid’s arrow has already hit you. To fall in love with someone is expressed with koi ni ochiru (恋に落ちる) expressed. You can confess your feelings by simply using the past tense and adding the name of the lucky person: [name] to koi ni ochitta (と恋に落ちった), which means: "I’ve fallen in love with [name."
Tip : In Japanese Become personal pronoun (me, you, him, her …) usually omitted. Another way to address a person is to say their name.
Now there is no turning back, you are already in love and in Japanese you can do that with koi ni suru (恋にする) proclaiming. If you are truly romantically inclined, you can also "[name] ni muchuu" (に夢中) say, which means that you will be Be head over heels in love. Or you can "[Name] ni kubittake" (に首ったけ) use to express that their crazy for that one person be.
With all these romantic sentences, I am sure that you have already won the heart of your loved one. So all that remains is to kneel down and say: kekkon shite kudasai (結婚してください), in German: "Do you want to marry me?"
Japanese phrases to express that love is over
Sometimes things don’t go as well as planned and most of us have suffered a heartbreak at some point in our lives. This Lovesickness becomes koi wazurai (恋煩い) called. Or it can be that you fall in love with a person but that person does not feel the same way. This one-sided love will kataomoi shiteru (片想いしてる) means.
When a relationship ends and a couple is separating, this is done with the verb wakareru (別 れる) expressed, which means "to separate" in German. When a relationship in a Divorce ends, this in Japanese with rikon suru (離婚 する) expressed. If you are the one who dumped the other person, you can say that with "[Name.] wo futta" (を振った) express. However, if you want to express, that you have been dumped, you use furareta (振られた). Should you like this Heart broken have been, you can express this feeling with shituren shita (失恋した) express. Or, to put it more dramatically, you can also use an onomatopoeia to say, that your heart is broken into a thousand pieces: kokoro ga zutazuta (心がズタズタ). Japanese simply love onomatopoeia!
And if you have already experienced several setbacks in love and have jumped from one relationship to the next, you may be considered a koi ooki hito (恋多き人) denotes, literally a "Person of many romances".
But don’t worry if you haven’t found your soul mate yet. There is a Japanese fable called "Unmei no akai ito" (運命の赤い糸) or even "red thread of fate. According to this legend, those who are predestined to meet are connected by an invisible red thread tied to the little finger. This thread helps to hit that one person, regardless of time, place or circumstance.