As you might have already figured out, saying „I love you“ in Japanese is not as „easy“ as you might have experienced it in your country or culture.
The direct way
The Japanese equivalent to „I love“ would be:
愛してる。 – aishiteru.
However Japanese hardly ever use this direct expression. In general Japanese people aren’t open with their feelings and so it’s the same with love. In fact there are married couples who never said „I love you“ to each other yet are living togehter happily. So you have to be careful with using this very heavy phrase. If you’re saying it out of the blue, the Japanese person will be shocked. Japanese often use it at marriage proposals or if they are on the verge of dying. Yes, that’s the level of seriousness these words hold.
How Japanese express their love
Japanese tend to show their love with what they do instead of saying „I love you“ on and on. While this has it’s merits you have to pay close attention to figure out their feelings. There are millions of ways to show love indirectly. Maybe the Japanese girl makes a bento for you or the Japanese guy makes dinner because he knows you don’t like cooking at all.
Other ways to say „I love you“ in Japanese
The most common phrases would be:
好き（です）。 – suki (desu).
大好き（です）。 – daisuki (desu).
Literally the just mean „I like“ and „I like a lot“ but when you’re saying it to a person it usually means you have a romantic interest in them. Therefore it is often translated as „I love you“ which led to all that confusion for Non-Japanese in the first place.
If you want to sound more serious, I recommend adding the name and emphasise it with „こと“:
（name）のことが大好き（です）。 – (name) no koto ga daisuki (desu).
The last way I want to mention is:
月がきれい。 – tsuki ga kirei.
It literally means „The moon is beautiful.“ This is an old-fashioned and very indirect way to say „I love you“, so young Japanese might not be aware of this hidden meaning. But I personally like this phrase so I thought I’d share it with you. I think it perfectly shows the Japanese way of thinking. Two people in love do not need direct words to convey their feelings. While I agree on that, it feels good to hear words of love from time to time, so in my opinion it’s best to do both.
By the way, recently an anime called „月がきれい“ came out. It’s about a romance between two junior high school students and shows a lot of useful phrases.
So be sure to check it out:
月がきれい – as the moon, so beautiful
I admit this is aimed at girls, but honestly…….guys could learn something from this, too.
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