Got a crush? 😍
In one of our previous posts, we discussed several romantic ways to say ‘I love you’ in Japanese.
But before you go ahead telling that special someone that you love them, you may want to ease into it with an ‘I like you’, in order to see if the feeling is mutual!
The main way to say ‘I like you’ in Japanese is suki (好き / すき).
But as you might expect, there are several different ways to express your feelings in Japanese!
In this post, we’ll talk about how to tell someone you like them, how to ask someone out in Japanese, and even how to respond when someone confesses their feelings to you!
Feeling romantic? Let’s dive in.
Japanese crush culture vs western crush culture
In Japanese culture, the initial phase of a relationship happens in a rather specific way!
In Japan, in order to distinguish a friendship or ‘situationship’ from a solid romantic relationship, one party will officially declare their feelings for the other in the hopes of becoming a couple from then on.
This act of confessing your feelings for someone is referred to as kokuhaku (告白 / こくはく).
This is different to what you may have in experienced in the western world, where a romantic relationship may casually and gradually occur after a few dates or even just hanging out.
Confession of love
If you are familiar with Japanese dramas or anime you are sure to have come across this romantic event, which is a quintessential part of Japanese dating culture.
When someone initiates a kokuhaku, the intention is to express their romantic feelings to the other person, and to take the next step in moving from a friendship to a romantic relationship – if the feeling is reciprocated!
It is generally the guy confessing to the girl, but really it can go any which way.
So in order to execute a fairytale kokuhaku, how does one express ‘I like you’ in Japanese?
How to say ‘I like you’ in Japanese
I like (you)
The standard phrase to convey your feelings to someone is suki (好き / すき). Note that although it is written suki, the pronunciation sounds more like ‘ski’.
You may recognise this word as it doesn’t just mean ‘to like someone romantically’, but to like anything in general.
Anata no koto ga suki desu
I like you (romantically)
Ringo ga suki desu
I like apples
When we talk about liking someone we say [person’s name] no koto, to make it clear that the person is the object of the sentence, not the subject.
Depending on the situation, you may add various endings to suki in order to suit the circumstances of the moment:
- suki (好き) – casual, more feminine
- suki desu (好きです) – more polite, neutral
- suki da (好きだ) – more masculine
- suki da yo (好きだよ) – more masculine
- suki yo (好きよ) – more feminine
- suki yanen! (好きやねん) – Kansai dialect (but widely understood all over Japan). Sounds fun and jokey.
I really like / love (you)
As you may be able to decipher from the kanji characters, daisuki (大好き / だいすき) means ‘really like’. The kanji you see in front of suki means ‘big’, making this sentiment that much deeper. It can still be used for non romantic purposes, for example, maybe you really like apples!
In terms of kokuhaku, daisuki can be a bit intense to exclaim when first professing your feelings to a crush.
You may want to begin with suki, and when the time is right and you want to tell them that you reallyyy like (or even love) them, you can surely opt for daisuki !
Will you go out with me?
Tsukiatte kudasai (付き合ってください / つきあってください) translates as ‘will you go out with me?’.
In the event of a kokuhaku, it is used hand in hand with suki. You would say this phrase after the love confession, in the hopes that the other person will accept and thus begin your relationship as a couple!
Accepting a kokuhaku
If you get confessed to and happen to reciprocate those romantic feelings, you can say watashi mo suki desu! (私も好きです / わたしも好きです). It means ‘I like you too’, and from there you can go on to accept the dating request and become a couple.
To accept, you may answer hai, onegaishimasu (はい、お願いします／はいおねがいします) meaning ‘yes, please’.
You can also use the useful Japanese phrase yoroshiku onegaishimasu (よろしくお願いします / よろしくおねがいします). This means many things in various different contexts, but in this particular situation sounds like ‘please, take care of me’ and implies that you are looking forward to a good relationship together.
Rejecting a kokuhaku
In the unfortunate event that the feelings are one-sided, here are some responses to let someone down after a kokuhaku.
Confessing to someone can be a very daunting thing, so it would be considerate to reject that person as gently as possible! Luckily, Japanese language and culture is rather indirect, which may help the rejected party save face in this awkward situation.
The simplest phrase to convey your lack of reciprocation would be gomen nasai (ごめんなさい) which simply means ‘I’m very sorry’. Just by merely saying gomen nasai… and trailing off the end of the sentence is enough to get the message across without the need for further explanation.
If you would like to provide some context as to why you will not be accepting the offer to date, you could say gomen nasai, suki na hito ga iru (好きな人がいる / すきなひとがいる) which means ‘sorry, but I like someone (else)’.
If you are already taken, you can explain gomen nasai, hito ga iru which means you already have a partner.
How to ‘friendzone’ in Japanese
It can be rather awkward if you get confessed to by someone who you only see as a friend. You may feel like you are more suited to being friends rather than a couple. In this instance, you can say:
Tomodachi toshite suki (友達として好き / ともだちとしてすき) which means ‘I like you as a friend’.
You could also say tomodachi de imashou! (友達でいましょう / ともだちでいましょう) meaning ‘let’s just be friends!’.
Now you can say I like you in Japanese!
So now you know a few ways to say ‘I like you’ in Japanese, and you even know how to respond when somebody declares their feelings… whether it’s reciprocated, or not!
Have you ever given or received a kokuhaku in Japanese? What did you say? Let us know in the comments!
Want to learn more Japanese to talk to your special someone? Our recommended language course is JapanesePod101. You’ll learn natural, everyday Japanese in a fun and easy way. It even has a 73-lesson pathway called ‘Talking With Your Japanese Partner‘!
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- 8+ Romantic Japanese Words For Love
- How to Say Girlfriend in Japanese
- How to Say Boyfriend in Japanese
Hannah is a half Irish/half Japanese girl living in Ireland. Her love for Japan and the Japanese language led her to studying languages and translation in university where she specialised in Japanese. She spent a year studying abroad at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. In her free time, Hannah enjoys using her sewing machine to upcycle clothes and create new pieces!