The Japanese culture of Love: Aishteru Japanese
The Japanese people are not that boldly expressive of their feelings. Many people believe that there are too few ways for the Japanese to express their love for another person. This may be because of their tradition. They are very conservative and unromantic.
In a historical sense, it was believed that falling madly in love is dangerous for a person’s life. It can cause disturbances in the harmonious flow of society. It is also through these mad expressions of love that scandals often come about. This is why the Japanese people in history are not as expressive as their other foreign counterparts.
Also, in their culture, it is more important to express and feel the love rather than say it. It is through actions that the people show how much they love others. For instance, how a mother takes care of a child or how a father provides for the family – these are strong indications of love and no other words are needed.
The reality of love in Japan compared to what can be seen in literary works and media are two opposing conditions of love. Not all people express their love confessions as romantically as writers have written them. Usually, what happens in real life is that a couple is formally introduced to each other and they start from there. The intimacy comes at a much later part of the relationship and the relationship is mostly built on respect. Despite the lack of sizzling romance, the presence of respect is already a strong indication of true love.
How to say ‘I love you’ in Japanese
What is interesting about the Japanese culture is that they don’t often say “I love you” to other people which are why the terminology or phrase used to express love is not commonly used. More often than not, they say “I like you” or “let’s date” but not necessarily the touchy-feely “I love you”. In any case, here are a few ways of saying “I love you” in Japanese.
The phrase "Aishiteru Yo" literally means, I love you. It is how the Japanese people express their love for their significant other. Again, since the Japanese people are not as expressive about love as their foreign counterparts, it is more common to hear "Sukidayo" than "Aishiteru yo". This phrase literally translates to I like you. Other expressions of love in Japan can be "Futari de ikou" which means let’s have a date. Others use more subtle yet romantic phrases such as "Issho ni itai" which means I want to spend time with you. Some more poetic than others say "Daiji ni shitai" which means I treasure you. The phrase "Aishtemasuka" is directly translated to “do you love me?”.
Aishteru in Kanji and Aishteru in Hiragana
Since hiragana is the method for which words are spelled as they are pronounced, the hiragana form of "Aishiteru yo" is "愛してるよ". It is noticeable that there is a character to represent every syllable in the phrase. On the other hand, the only kanji character in the phrase is "愛(AI)" which means love. There is no kanji way for writing “I love you” in Japanese.
Aishteru in English
The phrase was derived from the word ai which means love. It is also believed to have been derived from "Aisuru" which means to love. It is said that the phrase ending as "Aishiteru yo" is male speech while "Aishiteru wa" is female speech.
Japan’s ‘Love Confession’ Culture
How girls confess their love
In many of the cultures in the world, Valentine’s day is intended for men to sweep girls off of their feet. On the other hand, in Japan, it is the other way around. Quite mysteriously and uniquely, Japanese girls use Valentine’s day as an opportunity to confess their love to the guys that they like. It is a tradition for girls to give chocolates to important male figures in their life. For instance, they could give chocolates to their brothers, fathers, teachers, and more.
There are different kinds of chocolates depending on what kind of feeling is being given to a person. The giri-choco is the kind of chocolate that is given to teachers, friends, brothers, and fathers. These are symbols of obligation and is given as a means of thanks for all the special memories shared between the giver and the receiver. On the other hand, the honmei-choco is what girls use to confess their love to the guys they like. This is a special type of chocolate which is a good way to tell that there is romance involved in the gift giving. Oftentimes, this honmei-choco is heart shaped and packed with intricate and beautiful packaging. If not chocolates, some girls give other gifts like flowers, cookies, cakes, and the like.
How boys confess their love
In response to Valentine’s Day, boys usually take the opportunity to confess their love to the girls they like through White Day. An event that happens a month after Valentine’s Day, this is the best event to return favors for the gifts received during Valentine’s Day. The boys are supposed to respectfully give something special in return for the gifts that the girls have given to them.
Common gifts given to women are flowers, candies, and chocolates. Just like Valentine chocolates, there are also giri-choco and honmei-choco given to girls. Giri-choco is given to family members, friends, teachers, and sisters while the honmei-choco is given to someone special. It is like the Japanese celebrate Valentine’s a month too late.
Dating and Marriage in Modern Japan
Dating in Japan is not easy for a lot of people. Finding the perfect partner is not always the easiest task. This is the reason why it is not rare for parents to hire matchmakers, or omiai, to help their children find the perfect partner for marriage. These professional match-makers have used their wide-spread experience in finding lonely souls find the love of their lives.
In the earlier Japanese times, omiai is employed for arranged marriages. But in many modern times, these matchmakers do not force the couple to get married anymore. They just act as bridges for the two people to meet. If they think that they are not made to be married then it is the task of the omiai to find another match.
The Japanese take the institution of marriage pretty seriously because of so many reasons. Since it is the center of the home, the foundation for which a family is anchored upon, marriage is one of the most sacred bonds in Japanese society. On the other hand, the power of marriage had continuously been questioned and challenged with the continuous development of the laws and regulations for divorce or nullification of marriage.
Although the nitty gritty details of marriage are not pretty and can be quite expensive, a lot of Japanese people find comfort in the presence of divorce in their constitution. If there is a failure in marriage, then there is a possibility of leaving it. With this idea of escape, some people can find it comfortable to get married even if they are unsure.
On the other hand, there is another side to this as well. The products of divorce – the collateral damage so to speak – are the children who suffer through the breakup. They are the ones who suffer the most even though they had no part in the separation. Because of the emotional and psychological trauma that these experiences have for children while they are growing up, a lot of the Japanese youth of today are not in any way motivated to find a partner to marry. Since there is a high percentage of divorce in the country, what is the possibility that they will not fall victim to the comforting idea of escape?
Traditional Weddings in Japan
Traditional weddings in Japan may be one of the most elaborate personal celebration in their country. It is a religious ceremony that binds two people in love for the rest of their lives. A traditional Japanese wedding is usually held at a Shinto shrine and is presided over by a Shinto priest.
The simple ceremony is quite symbolic in a variety of ways. Before the marriage, the Shinto priest performs a rite to purify the couple being married. To seal the bond they are tasked to drink sake in a ritual known as san-san-kudo. This is the process for which the couple will share three “nuptial cups” symbolizing their bond and oath to each other. After the entire ceremony, the couple will then provide offerings to the deity of the temple as a prayer that they are blessed with a fruitful life together.
As for the clothing, both the bride and the groom are to wear traditional style kimonos. The bridal kimono is known as the uchikake which is completely white from the headdress to the socks. The color is a symbol of purity. One interesting trivia about this wedding attire is the idea that the large headdress is used to cover the bride’s hidden “horns” as a sign of fully submitting to the husband. The groom, on the other hand, wears a dark kimono with a white family embroidered crest.
There are a number of couples who resort to getting married in more modernized and westernized style. This is due to the fact that getting married in a Shinto temple, buying traditional marriage kimono, and all that traditional jazz can be quite expensive.
This is due to the fact that the bride and the groom usually dress differently and more casually during the reception, which is done after the performance of rites at the temple. With multiple clothing changes, the wedding can be a bit more expensive. Take note, traditional wedding kimonos are often rented because buying these clothes would cost a fortune. It is said that renting a regular kimono wedding dress already costs just as much as buying a western style dress.
There are other wedding traditions in Japan that are quite incredible. One fact is that the reception is quite closely similar to a Western-style celebration. There is cake cutting, dancing, gift-giving and more. For anyone going to a wedding, it must be a good thing to remember to always bring something as a gift for the bride and groom as this is common respect and courtesy.
Choosing a life partner: Japanese tips to remember
One thing to remember about finding the perfect life partner is the fact that there are more to body language and actions that blurting out romanticized (watashitachi) words. A deeper sense of love is felt when it is expressed through actions.
Even if people from Japan are not as expressive when it comes to love and relationships, it is still a good thing to throw out some words out there just as an assurance for the other person that they are loved and appreciated no matter what. It all starts with a simple “I like you”.
If finding a person to marry is a subject in school, perhaps a lot of people would fail at it because there is no perfect formulation to finding one. Maybe it would be best to find someone that is introduced by a friend or a family member. This way there is immediate trust between the two. The common friend can become a reference for questions and other concerns.
For those who do not want to find love by blind dates, maybe going on a short trip or travel would open up the mind to meeting someone. It may be from another continent, another city, or another country. The season of love would always follow anyone who is looking for love. Just be open minded and be more friendly with people.
For those who are quite desperate, maybe consultations with matchmakers can be a good thing. Even if there is no perfect formulation for love, they might just have someone up in their sleeves who have the same likes and dislikes.