16 Japanese Love Words for Romance and Dating

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Love is in the air! Who’s ready to learn some romantic Japanese love words?

In previous posts, we have learned some Japanese pick up lines and how to express like or love in Japanese. In this post, we will look at some of the other common words in the Japanese world of romance and love!

Knowing the lingo will help you feel more confident in dating, and will definitely impress others!

If you are getting into the Japanese dating scene, here is a list of words related to love that will help you navigate your love life with a little bit more expertise.

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A couple hiding their kisses behind a red heart-shaped paper. The text above them reads, "16 Romantic Japanese Love Words for Love and Dating.




Two hands hold heart shapes against a colorful, blurred cityscape background. The text reads: "Japanese love words: '彼氏 kareshi' meaning boyfriend.

Kareshi (彼氏 / かれし) is the Japanese word for ‘boyfriend’. 

The Japanese word for ‘he’ is kare (彼), while shi (氏) is an honorific that can be added on to the end of a name as a sign of high respect. 

Learn more: How to Say Boyfriend in Japanese (5 Essential Words)




A serene scene with blossoming cherry trees. Text overlay shows "彼女 kanojo girlfriend," subtly showcasing Japanese love words, with small groups of people in the background. Website: teamjapanese.com.

Kanojo (彼女 / かのじょ) means ‘girlfriend’ in Japanese. 

The word kanojo can also be used to mean ‘she’, in general. Therefore, context is pretty important in order to avoid any miscommunication!

Learn more: How to Say Girlfriend in Japanese (5 Different Ways)




text reads: Japanese love words, kappuru, couple, over a background showing a Japanese couple in love holding a paper heart over their faces.

The Japanese word for ‘couple’ is an easily remembered term —kappuru (カップル / かっぷる).

It is a loanword from English, made extra evident through the use of katakana, which is generally reserved for borrowed words in Japanese!



text showing the Japanese kanji for otto / husband and the subtitle Japanese love words, on a white textured paper background.

Otto (夫 / おっと) is the Japanese term for ‘husband’. 

Now, I know we are skipping a bit ahead here in terms of dating, but it’s good to at least know the word for ‘husband’, in case you try to hit on someone who is married!

Some people also say shujin (主人 / しゅじん) or danna san (旦那さん / だんなさん) to refer to their (or someone else’s) husband. Danna san is rather interchangeable with otto, however I would say shujin definitely comes across as more formal!

Learn more: How to Say Husband in Japanese (Traditional and Modern Ways)




A white background with pink floral patterns features the text: "Japanese love words" at the top, "妻 tsuma wife" in the center, and "teamjapanese.com" at the bottom.

Tsuma (妻 / つま) is ‘wife’ in Japanese. 

Okusan (奥さん / おくさん) is another word for ‘wife’. The kanji (奥) can be translated as ‘heart’ or ‘bottom of one’s heart’. So, a very romantic and fitting name for one’s wife!

Learn more: How to Say Wife in Japanese



Married couple

Japanese text that reads "夫婦," transliteration "fuufu," and English translation "married couple" on a light blue textured background, with the phrase "Japanese love words" elegantly displayed at the top.

A ‘married couple’ in Japanese is referred to as fuufu (夫婦 / ふうふ). 

You can see that the first kanji is ‘husband’, but you may notice that the second one is not the aforementioned kanji for ‘wife’. The character 婦 actually means ‘bride’. The word fusai (夫妻 / ふさい) also exists, although it is not as commonly used to due its formality.




Text displays "恋人 koibito lover" on a background with pink petals. The header reads "Japanese love words," and the footer shows "teamjapanese.com".

Koibito (恋人 / こいびと) is a more gender neutral term that means ‘lover’ or ‘(romantic) partner’. 

It is made up of the kanji koi (恋) meaning ‘love’ and hito (人) meaning ‘person’. Note that in this compound word, hito (ひと) is pronounced as bito.



You; romantic term of endearment

Red background with Japanese characters reading "anata" and English text below stating, "you; romantic term of endearment." The caption at the top is "Japanese love words" and the bottom text reads "teamjapanese.com," highlighting beautiful Japanese love words.

Anata (あなた) is a romantic, Japanese pet name for a significant other. It is similar to nicknames like ‘honey’ or ‘dear’ in English. Some people pronounce it as anta (あんた).

You may know anata to mean ‘you’, the second person pronoun in the singular. However, when used to address your partner, this basic word becomes a term of endearment! 

The previous phrases on the list are generally used when talking to other people about your kareshi or tsuma, while anata is a phrase you can use when addressing your loved one directly.

Learn more: Japanese Terms Of Endearment




Text graphic featuring Japanese love words "ダーリン" meaning "daarin" and "darling" in English, set against a white background adorned with pink and orange petals.

Daarin (ダーリン / だーりん) is a loanword which comes from the English, ‘darling’.

Just like anata, this is a term of affection often used to refer to a significant other. 




Image with the text "Japanese love words" at the top, and "デート," followed by "deeto" and "date" in the center above a patterned background. "teamjapanese.com" is at the bottom.

Deeto (デート / でーと) is another loanword, coming from the English word ‘date’. 

Deeto as a standalone word is a noun, however it can also be used as a suru verb.

For example:

Ashita kare wa onna no ko to deeto suru
Tomorrow, he is going on a date with a girl




Text reads "Japanese love words" and "dakishimeru" which means "to hug" on a textured lavender background with white fibers. The text "teamjapanese.com" is at the bottom.

Dakishimeru (抱き締める / だきしめる) is a romantic Japanese verb meaning ‘to hug’.

To break is down, daku (抱く) translates as ‘to embrace’ and shimeru (締める) means ‘to tighten’ or ‘to fasten’. This sweet, romantic verb is a popular song lyric in many Japanese love songs!

Japanese people also use the loanword hagu (ハグ / はぐ), and you may also hear the term gyuu (ぎゅう) in the same context. Gyuu is an onomatopoeic word used to mimic the tight squeeze of a hug!

Te wo tsunagu


Hold hands

Text on a crumpled pink paper background reads "Japanese love words," with the phrase "手を繋ぐ" ("te wo tsunagu," meaning "to hold hands") below. The website "teamjapanese.com" is at the bottom.

Te wo tsunagu is another romantic verb. It means ‘to hold hands’. 

Te means ‘hand’, while tsunagu means ‘to tie together’ or ‘to connect’. If you are on a date and you want to get closer, you can ask te wo tsunaide mo ii desu ka? Meaning ‘is it okay to hold your hand?’. So romantic!



Kiss (also chu)

A pink wave pattern background with Japanese text for "kiss," transliterated as "kissu," and translated as "kiss" in English. The text at the top reads "Japanese love words.

Kissu (キッス / きっす) is of course, ‘kiss’ in Japanese! 

The noun kissu can also be used as a suru verb to mean ‘to kiss’. You may also hear people say chuu (ちゅう) to mean ‘kiss’. It is a sort of onomatopoeic word as chuu is supposed to represent the lip puckering sound of a kiss! 




The image displays Japanese characters for "affection," accompanied by its romanization "aijou" and the English translation "affection". The background is a soft mix of pastel colors, beautifully capturing the essence of Japanese love words.

Aijou (愛情 / あいじょう) is often translated as ‘affection’ or simply ‘love’.

The first half aijou is of course 愛, the kanji for ‘love’. The second half, 情, means ‘feelings’, or ‘emotion’. Aijou refers to the feeling of love and the affection one shows for another. 




Text on a textured background reads "Japanese love words," "恋愛," "renai," and "romance." A small credit at the bottom reads "teamjapanese.com.

Renai (恋愛 / れんあい) is often translated as ‘love’, but has a nuance of ‘romance’ or ‘falling in love’.

In our previous post, we discussed the two kanji koi () and ai (愛). Both mean ‘love’, but describe different types of love. Both of these kanji put together make renai, which specifically refers to romantic love. 

For example, a renai shousetsu (恋愛小説 / れんあいしょうせつ) would refer to a ‘romance story’ or novel. It is also not uncommon to hear the use of the loanword romansu (ロマンス / ろまんす).

Learn more: 8+ Romantic Japanese Words For Love




Text image featuring Japanese love words. "愛おしい" is translated as "itooshi" (beloved). The background is pink with a textured pattern. Additional text reads "teamjapanese.com" at the bottom.

Itooshii (愛おしい / いとおしい) is a bit of a tricky adjective to translate, but it generally means ‘beloved’ or ‘dear’. 

It is used to describe something/someone you love that is very precious to you, whether it be your pets, children or romantic partner!

Related posts

Want to learn Japanese?

JapanesePod101 is our top recommendation to learn Japanese online. We love the fun, current audio lessons and interactive online tools. Sign up for your free lifetime account and see for yourself!

Join for free!
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.
An infographic with Japanese love words and their English translations features terms like "kareshi" (boyfriend), "kanojo" (girlfriend), and "renai" (romance). Decorated with charming illustrations and a red border..

Hannah Stafford

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!

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