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Japanese Date Phrases: Flirting and Small Talk

Wherever you are, dating can be a stressful situation. This goes doubly so when you can barely speak the local language. 

If you are living in Japan and your date accepted your invitation, they more than likely know your Japanese language ability. However, that isn’t to say that you should not try to meet them on equal ground. Here, we have compiled several Japanese date phrases to help lubricate any romantic conversations.

Just as a quick disclaimer; these phrases are not supposed to be used for securing a first date. We’ll assume you already landed the date through a dating app or friend’s recommendation, you have the person’s phone number, and are looking for things to talk about when you eventually meet. As such, we’ll also try to avoid giving generic one-word answers. 

[すごい] (sugoi: “Amazing”)

[大丈夫] (daijoubu: “It’s OK”) 

[へえー] (Heh: “Really?”/”Oh Yeah?”) 

These words are all well and good for a Japanese reactionary robot, but the following phrases will throw your date off the scent of your illiteracy. 

Preparation

Japanese Date Phrases

OK, so before we dive in, we have to take care of some admin. Think of it like conversational foreplay. You can’t just go diving in raw with the five-page essay you prepared about the futility of man. We need to slowly ease into the discussion, ensuring we have all the necessary information required for a great evening

1) “When are you free?”

Casual > [空いてる時間はいつ?] : aiteru jikan wa itsu?

Formal > [空いてる時間はいつですか?] : aiteru jikan wa itsu desu ka?

Budding Japanese novices might be inclined to flex their knowledge of the weekdays by asking whether or not their date is free 次の土曜日 (sugi no douyoubi: “next Saturday”)Much better to leave the question open-ended to receive a positive answer rather than a list of excuses. 

2) “What time shall we meet?”

Casual > [何時にお会う?] : nanji ni au

Formal > [何時にお会いましょうか?] : nanji ni oaimashō ka

Nothing worse than arriving either too early or too late and being forced to saunter about while you either wait for the other person’s arrival or forlornly regret those extra twenty minutes you spent sleeping, respectively. 

Punctuality is a virtue and this phrase will guarantee you will never be late again.

3) “Where shall we meet?”

Casual > [どこで会おうか?] : doko de aoka?

Formal > [どこでお会いしましょうか?] : doko de aimashouka?

4) “Do you want to go to dinner with me?”

Casual > [一緒にご飯食べにいかない?] : Isshou ni gohan tabeni ikanai?

Formal > [一緒にご飯を食べに行きませんか?: Isshou ni gohan wo tabeni ikimasenka?

I can see it now. After mustering the courage to make the first move, you finally score that first date with your dream girl. You arrange a day and a time to meet and begin making your way to the agreed location.

You exchange pleasantries before she asks you that dreaded question. “So, what are we going to do?”

Your mind goes blank. You never thought you would get this far. Luckily for you, asking someone to go to dinner is as simple as can be with this one short phrase. Never be caught with your pants down again after you’ve memorized it (or perhaps if things go exceedingly well, you just might be caught in such a situation). 

Small Talk

Japanese Date Phrases

1) “What are you addicted to these days”

Casual > [最近何にはまっているの?] : saikin nani ni hamateiru no?

Formal > [最近はまっていることはなんですか] : saikin hamateiru koto wa nandesuka?

This phrase is great for uncovering your date’s interests without being too intrusive. Moreover, it feels more personal than simply asking a generic, 

[ご趣味は?] (goshumiwa: “What are your hobbies?”)

This question taps into a person’s passions. With this phrase, you can find out what your date has been pouring their time into recently, whether it’s a long-term hobby or more of a fleeting addiction. 

Either way, this allows your date the freedom to talk about whatever they want, rather than being cornered into giving a specific answer they may not feel comfortable elaborating on. I would much rather hear about my date’s recent addiction to Animal Crossing, rather than listen to a speech about their lifelong passion for taxidermy. 

Perhaps, save that question for the third date. 

2) “What were you doing last weekend?”

Casual > [先週末は何をした?]: senshuumatsu wa nani wo shita?

Formal > [先週末は何をしましたか?]: senshuumatsu wa nani wo shimashitaka?

Find out what your date enjoys doing in their spare time with this phrase. This is great for initiating a conversation into common interests, their family, or their work-life. If they spent the weekend with their sibling, you can continue to talk about each other’s family. If they spent the weekend working, you can talk about your jobs. The possibilities are endless. 

3) “What is your blood type?”

Casual > [血液型は何?]= ketsuekigata wa nani?

Formal > [血液型は何ですか?]: ketsuekigata wa nandesuka?

This is a phrase specifically tailored to dating in Japan and also Korea. While in several other countries, this phrase would cloak you in the guise of a dormant serial killer, in Japan, knowing one’s blood type is integral to deducing said person’s personality. Akin to star-signs, different blood types are also said to connect better romantically than others. 

Different blood types are often linked with different personality traits. 

  • Blood type A people are commonly serious
  • Blood type B people are often creative
  • Blood type AB people are usually eccentric
  • Blood type O people are considered extrovertive and social

This is a very rough generalization so take a look at this chart for a more accurate representation of what a person’s blood type says about them (as well as which blood types are best suited for each other romantically). 

Japanese Blood Type

4) “How is your work?”

Casual > [お仕事はどう?]: oshigoto wa dou?

Formal > [お仕事はどうですか?]: oshigoto wa dou desuka?

With work culture having such a heavy influence over people’s lives in Japan, this phrase should go hand-in-hand with any casual discussion. Be it a first date or fourth, learning about your date’s job, former jobs, and work-life balance will give you an accurate insight into their interests, future aspirations, and foreseeable availability. 

Flirting

1) “Your {noun} is/are pretty”

Casual > [Noun + が + 綺麗 ] : Noun + ga + kirei

Formal[Noun + が + 綺麗 + です] : Noun + ga + kirei + desu

Everyone likes being told they’re beautiful, and if you freeze up at the exact moment and forget your noun flashcards, don’t worry it happens to the best of us. However, if you can specify exactly what it is that has entranced you about your date, be it their smile, eyes, or hair, the compliment becomes much more tailored to that person.

Be sure to replace the noun with whatever it is you’re complimenting. Unless of course you’re positively infatuated with your partner’s vocabulary. In that case, feel free to leave the ‘noun’ as is. 

目 (め)
 me
“Eyes”

  ヘアスタイル
 heastairu
“Hairstyle”

  笑顔 (えがお)
 egao
“Smile”

  鼻 (はな)
 hana
“Nose”

  肌 (はだ) 
 hada
“Skin”

2) “You are so cute!”

[とってもかわいいね]: totemo kawaii ne

For a more general compliment, telling your date they look cute is sure to flatter them. ‘Kawaii’ is such a popular complement in Japan so it is best to learn this convenient word now and reap the rewards. The male equivalent would be: 

[かっこいい] (kakoii: “Handsome/Cool”)

3) “You look great!”

[その + 物 + は + とても + 素敵いだよ]: 

sono + mono (thing > replace this) + wa + totemo + sutekiidayo 

Another general compliment but one that also is used to compliment things other than your date’s features.

[その + シャツ (shatsu) + は + とても + 素敵いだよ]: “You look great in that shirt”

4) “I want to see you again”

Casual >[また会いたい]: mata aitai

Formal > [また会いたいです]: mata aitai desu

Let your date know how special they are by proclaiming that you want to see them again as soon as possible. If they feel the same way, head back to the top of the article and get started planning your next date. 

The End of the Night

Let’s wrap up the date with some phrases to express just how much fun you had with your partner. 

1) “I’ll pay”

Casual > [私がおごるよ]: watashi ga ogoruyo

Formal > [私がおごります]: watashi ga ogorimasu

Who said chivalry was dead? While more and more couples seem to be splitting the cheque after dinner nowadays if it’s just gone payday, why not treat your partner to their meal or drinks. Certainly, they will appreciate the gesture and perhaps be more inclined to join you on a second date to repay the favor.

2) “Shall we go somewhere else?”

Casual > [どこか他のの所に行こうか?]: Dokoka hoka no tokoro ni ikou ka

Formal > [どこか他のの所に行きましょうか?]: Dokoka hoka no tokoro ni ikimashou ka

If you aren’t ready for the night to end just yet, ask your date if they still have the energy to continue. Check out some of the other establishments in the area and keep the party rolling. 

3) “I had a great time tonight”

Casual > [今日はとても楽しかった]: kyou wa totemo tanoshikatta 

Formal > [今日はとても楽しかったです]: kyou wa totemo tanoshikatta desu

A great way to cap off a perfect evening with your date. Let them know how much fun you had and how much you want to do it again. Refer to the preparation part of the article to arrange your second date.

4) “I’ll call/message you”

[また電話/メールするね]: mata denwa/meeru suru ne

[また電話/メールします]: mata denwa/meeru shimasu

Relieve your date of the fear that you might ghost them by reassuring them that you will be in contact soon. 

Enjoy Dating in Japan


There you have it. Hopefully, you can find some use of these phrases to enhance your dating life in Japan. Of course, these phrases should only be used as a guideline, a prompt if you will for starting your own conversation. If you have any Japanese date phrases that you think would help others on their next date, feel free to comment down below. 

Good Luck!

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