Languages › Japanese How Do You Say Love in Japanese? The Difference Between "Ai" and "Koi" Share Flipboard Email Print Japanese calligraphic work 'Ai'. Getty Images Japanese History & Culture Essential Japanese Vocabulary Japanese Grammar by Namiko Abe Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. Updated March 27, 2018 In Japanese, both "ai （愛）" and "koi （恋）" can be roughly translated as "love" in English. However, the two characters have a slightly different nuance. Koi "Koi" is a love for the opposite sex or a feeling of longing for a specific person. It can be described as "romantic love" or "passionate love." Here are some proverbs that include "koi." 恋に師匠なしKoi ni shishou nashi Love needs no teaching. 恋に上下の隔てなしKoi ni jouge no hedate nashi Love makes all men equal. 恋は思案のほかKoi wa shian no hoka Love is without reason. 恋は盲目Koi wa moumoku. Love is blind. 恋は熱しやすく冷めやすい。Koi wa nesshi yasuku same yasui Love becomes deep easily, but cools down soon. Ai While "ai" has the same meaning as "koi," it also has a definition of a general feeling of love. "Koi" can be selfish, but "ai" is a real love. "Ai （愛）" can be used as a female name. Japan's new royal baby was named Princess Aiko, which is written with the kanji characters for "love （愛）" and "child （子）." However, "koi （恋）" is rarely used as a name. Another slight different between the two emotions is that "koi" is always wanting and "ai" is always giving. Words Containing Koi and Ai To find out more, the following chart will take a look at words containing "ai" or "koi". Words containing "Ai (愛)" Words containing "Koi (恋)" 愛読書 aidokushoone's favorite book 初恋 hatsukoifirst love 愛人 aijinlover 悲恋 hirensad love 愛情 aijoulove; affection 恋人 koibitoone's boyfriend/girlfriend 愛犬家 aikenkaa dog lover 恋文 koibumilove letter 愛国心 aikokushinpatriotism 恋敵 koigatakia rival in love 愛車 aishaone's cherished car 恋に落ちる koi ni ochiruto fall in love with 愛用する aiyousuruto use habitually 恋する koisuruto be in love with 母性愛 boseiaimother's love, maternal affection 恋愛 renailove 博愛 hakuaiphilanthropy 失恋 shitsurendisappointed love "Renai （恋愛）" is written with the kanji characters of both "koi" and "ai." This word means, "romantic love." "Renai-kekkon （恋愛結婚）" is a "love marriage," which is the opposite of "miai-kekkon (見合い結婚, arranged marriage)." "Renai-shousetsu （恋愛小説）" is "a love story" or "a romance novel." The title of the movie, "As Good As It Gets" was translated as "Renai-shousetuska (恋愛小説家, A Romance Novel Writer)." "Soushi-souai （相思相愛）" is one of the yoji-jukugo （四字熟語）. It means, "to be in love with one another." English Word for Love The Japanese sometimes use the English word "love" as well, though it is pronounced as "rabu （ラブ）" (since there is no "L" or "V" sound in Japanese). "A love letter" is usually called "rabu retaa （ラブレター）." "Rabu shiin （ラブシーン）" is "a love scene". Young people say "rabu rabu (ラブラブ, love love)" when they are very much in love. Words That Sound Like Love In Japanese, there are other words pronounced the same as "ai" and "koi". Since their meanings are distinctly different, there usually no confusion between them when used in the proper context. With different kanji characters, "ai （藍）" means, "indigo blue," and "koi （鯉）" means, "carp." Carp streamers that are decorated on Children's Day (May 5th) are called " koi-nobori （鯉のぼり）." Pronunciation To learn how to say "I love you" in Japanese, check out Talking About Love. Continue Reading Do You Know How to Write Love in Japanese Kanji? How to Decide When to Use On-Reading and Kun-Reading Learning How to Say 'I Love You' in Japanese How Much Do You Know About Spirited Away? Japanese Baby Name Trends Children's Day in Japan and Koinobori Song Movie Titles in Japanese Master These 100 Common Kanji Characters to Write Japanese Learning Japanese: What Are Radicals? Do You Know What the Most Popular Japanese Baby Names Are? Japanese Writing Systems Dogs in Japanese Culture Japanese Fish Proverbs Useful Japanese Expressions Japanese Particle Information (Bakari) Learn the Japanese Phrase 'Ki o Tsukete'