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Dating in Japan: Express Yourself (& Impress Others) in Japanese


Japanese dating culture can be a minefield for people who aren’t familiar with the culture. Politeness and cultural hierarchies dictate very specific language to be used (along with certain rules) that should be kept in mind while exploring you romantic interests. Perhaps you’d like to tell your Japanese-speaking romantic interest how you feel? How about confirming and expressing your undying love?  Maybe you want to ask someone out? We’ve compiled a list of  phrases, and keywords that will help you express your feelings or recognize someone else’s!

電話番号聞いてもいい?– Denwa bangou kiitemo ii?

A perfect start to a budding romance. It’s rude to be too direct or too forward in Japanese; even when it comes to expressing your feelings. Denwa bamgou kiitemo ii? or “Do you mind if I ask your phone number?” is a great way to show that you have interest in someone without being too forward.

あなたのことを大切に思っています。– Anata no koto wo taisetsu ni omotte imasu.

This phrase will start off your flirtations appropriately after you’ve asked for a phone number or an email address. You really don’t want to come on too strong, so something simple like “I care about you,” doesn’t push the envelope too far, but does make your intentions clear. Make sure you know that he/she is interested in you before you say it though, just to be on the safe side.

君は僕が待ち焦がれていたプリンセス?– Kimi wa boku ga machikogareteita purinsesu?

Now we’re into the pick-up line section of our guide. Naturally, you want to be as careful as possible, and if you’re looking for a serious romance, maybe don’t try to use this unless you’re being super kawaii (or cute).  Kimi wa boku ga machikogareteita purinsesu? means “Are you the princess I’ve been waiting for all this time?”

今日ノーブラなんです。。。– Kyo no bra nan desu…

For those of you women (or men!) feeling brazen, go for kyo no bra nan desu, which means ‘I’m not wearing a bra today…’ and well… there isn’t really any way to misconstrue the intention behind this phrase.

Think you already know a little Japanese? Test your language skills with our level test here!

Japanese Culture: the Dating Dos and Don’ts

Now that you’ve got the flirtatious phrases out of the way, we’ve compiled a helpful list of dos and don’ts for dating in the Japanese culture. Japan focuses heavily on homogeneity, so try not to stick out too much from the norm when approaching that person you like and asking them out. It might seem like slippery slope with tonnes of hidden pitfalls, but follow our advice and you’ll be fine!


Take it slow.

Being too forward with your feelings and affections is not something that is acceptable in Japanese culture. More than anything else you want to be as subtle as you possibly can. In fact, you want to be almost too subtle.

Make an effort to meet and befriend their friends and family.

Family and community is important in Japanese culture, and doing your best to fit into the group and make yourself one of the family will go a long way in terms of relationship longevity.

Take advantage of Valentine’s Day (February 14th) and White Day (March 14th).

On Valentine’s Day in Japan, women give gifts to the men they love, and men buy gifts for women on White Day! This gives you a perfect opportunity to show your affection with some Pocky, or sweet treats.


Dress like a slob.

This doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means. If you’re a guy, this means you need to be clean shaven and well dressed. If you’re a girl then you should be dressed as femininely as possible. Appearance counts for a lot when it comes to romance (and reputation) in Japanese culture.

Say I love you.

Aishiteru or  愛してる means “I love you”, though saying this is something not often done. It’s said to be too formal, and sounds strange and old fashioned. Instead use the words 好き or suki dae, meaning “I like you”. It may not sound like the right thing to say but it’s the most common and comfortable way for Japanese speakers to express love.