A Japanese girlfriend – I know you want one! But first you gotta’ learn how to say girlfriend in Japanese! Otherwise, what are you supposed to say when introducing her to your family? “This is my Honey Bunny”? This isn’t Pulp Fiction!
It will come as no surprise that there are a variety of ways to say girlfriend in Japanese. Typical Japanese language, amiright?!
I’ll show you the most common word first, followed by the English loan word (of course!) which I’m sure you can already guess how to say, and then I’ve got a third word that you can use alternatively as well.
Don’t stop there though, keep reading to learn how to ask a Japanese girl out on a date, in Japanese! I’ve got the classic line for ya, but I can’t promise that it’ll work 100% of the time. Unless you’re Johnny Depp.
Girls LOVE Johnny Depp!
The Two Ways to Say Girlfriend in Japanese
The primary way to say girlfriend in Japanese is the word 彼女 「かのじょ」 which I’m sure you originally learned as the Japanese word for the personal pronoun she.
The truth about the meaning of 彼女 is that, both of them are correct! Is that confusing?
The best way to tell them apart is by the context.
Since it’s more common to refer to a girl in the third person by her name, or by one of those age-descriptors (if you don’t know her name) like お姉さん 「おねえさん」 you probably won’t hear 彼女 used as she all that much.
But I think the best way to understand when 彼女 means girlfriend is when there is the possesive particle の in front of it.
-This is my girlfriend. こちらは私の彼女です。 「こちらはわたしのかのじょです。」
-Yuuki is my brother’s girlfriend. ユウキちゃんは弟の彼女だ。 「ユウキちゃんはおとうとのかのじょだ。」
-Do you have a girlfriend? 彼女がいますか？ 「かのじょがいますか？」
But you will also hear the English gairaigo ガールフレンド used in Japanese. That’s fine too, and there will be no confusion with this one since it doesn’t have an alternate meaning like the first word.
Of course, there are still more words that you could use to describe the special girl in your life. The word you would use to talk about your lover, sweetheart, or significant other (regardless of man/woman) is the word 恋人 「こいびと」 in Japanese.
It is, after all, a combination of the word for love 恋 and person 人.
The Classic Way to Ask a Girl Out on a Date
Alright, so you’ve met a nice Japanese girl and you want to go out on a デート with her. That’s right, another English loan word!
Like most loan words, you just add the verb する to it to turn it into デートする which means to date (someone).
But how do you ask her out?
In English we would say something like will you be my girlfriend? You could say that in Japanese as 彼女になってくれますか？ 「かのじょになってくれますか？」 but it would sound a little unnatural. They would know what you mean, but Japanese people don’t really talk that way.
It’s another one of those cases where English and Japanese don’t really line up with one another.
My advice is to stick with the classic Japanese way, which is to tell her 好きです！付き合って下さい！ 「すきです！つきあってください！」 which translates as I like you! Please go out with me!
Consider this your 告白 「こくはく」 or love confession to tell her how you feel and that you want to be more than just friends.
The word 付き合う 「つきあう」 means dating a person, go out with someone, or basically being in a relationship with them.
When things get really serious, learn how to tell her you love here.
But wait, wait, WAIT!!!
What if things aren’t series yet? What if you just want to go on a date, but not start a relationship yet?
Then just ask her out to get some tea or coffee with you. Keep it simple!
ねえ、二人でお茶でも飲まない？ 「ねえ、ふたりでおちゃでものまない？」 which means hey, why don’t we (just the two of us) get some tea or something to drink?
That’s a nice, casual way to get to know the 好きな子 「すきなこ」 girl/boy you like on a 初デート 「はつデート」 first date.
The population of Japan is about 127 million people – Lots of girls to ask out!
What is a Gōdō Kompa?
A 合同コンパ 「ごうどうコンパ」 is basically a group dating event. It comes from the word 合同 which means meeting together and the loan word コンパ which is actually a contracted version of two English words: company and companion.
It’s usually a fairly large group, like 8-12 people, with half of them being men and half of them being women.
It’s typically held in a pub where you all pay a set fee for dinner and all you can drink. Seating is also arranged, so you just gotta focus on getting yourself there on time!
Talk, joke, get to know the other person and hopefully find a lot of chemistry with someone you meet.
Do You Like Karaoke?
After you’re done with the Gōdō Kompa, you head on out to the 二次会 「にじかい」 also known as the after-party, where you have a good time singing カラオケ and drinking some more.
Side note: the word “karaoke” come from 空 「から」 which means empty and the English word orchestra. So カラオケ translates as empty orchestra in English. It’s probably good we still just call it karaoke in English as the literal translation doesn’t really describe those people who sing karaoke… Even when they shouldn’t!
You know who you are (ಠ_ಠ).
Dating and hanging out in a group, rather than alone (1 on 1) types of situations are pretty common in Japan.
Remember, the Japanese culture puts the group above the individual, which is pretty much the reverse of Western culture.
If someone invites you to a Gōdō Kompa while you’re visiting Japan, tell them YES!
Now you know several ways to talk about your girlfriend in Japanese.
You also know how to get the ball rolling when you find a nice girl and want to start asking her out on dates.
And then perhaps, like… um, start a serious relationship or something! ٩(>‿<)۶
Now I want to hear from you!
Share your wisdom Sensei! Tell us what you know about getting dates with Japanese girls!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: