Daisuki – The Japanese Way of Expressing Interest

Around the world, each country has a unique way of expressing itself. Whether it’s through words, music, dance, art, stories, or other aspects of culture, these expressions are communicated to each other to form relationships; the foundation of human interactions.

As for languages, not all of them can be equally compared to each other. Each language has its own character – from its manners of speech to how it is written, expressions are always varied, and there may be no truly exact translations of a certain concept. While you can roughly translate the general idea of a sentence from Japanese to English, there are subtleties that become lost in translation. 

Nevertheless, one of the most widely translated and understood concepts worldwide is love. Though they may not all exactly literally translate word for word to the western notion “I love you” – they project the same emotion. 

Expressing Interest in Japan

There is a multitude of variations to the sentence “I love you”, as each one connotes a meaning, however slightly distinct. Here’s the breakdown to help you understand. 

“Ai” means love. It is written in Japanese as “愛”. When you turn that into “to love”, which is the verb form of the word “love”, that becomes “愛する”, or aisuru. Now if you were to translate “I love you”, word for word, it would come out as “愛しています”, or “ashite imasu”. The entire sentence will then be “Watashi wa anata wo aishitemasu”. 

The specific sentence “ashite imasu” is very rarely used in the Japanese language, and neither is its more common phrase, “愛してる”, pronounced as “aishiteru” However, the Japanese language sometimes changes depending on whether you’re talking to a man or a woman, as the sentence-ending particle would usually be changed.

Aishiteru is what is used as a gender-neutral term, while “aishiteru wa” - written as “愛してるわ” would be used if you were talking a woman, and “aishiteru yo” – written as “愛してるよ” would be said to a man. As for formality, “ai shitemasu”, written as “愛してますよ” is used. This is only ever used in very extreme romantic situations, like when someone is about to ask for another person’s hand in marriage. 

A Mellower Form of Love

Yet there is another Japanese phrase that somewhat conveys love, but in a more casual way – sort of akin to the word “like”. In Japanese, the concept of liking someone or something – or more specifically, the verb “to like” - is expressed through the words “Suki desu”. In Japanese, Suki desu is written as “好きです”. 

Of course, Suki desu has its variations when said to either a woman or a man, though they are labeled colloquial. Suki dayo is the phrase you use when referring to men. It is written as “好きだよ”(sukidayo). Suki yo is what is used with women, and it is written in Japanese as “好きよ”.

But What Is the Meaning of Daisuki in Japanese?

The Japanese word “daisuki” is a compound. It is comprised of two smaller words – “dai” (大), which means large, and “suki” (好き) is a noun that points towards the action of loving or liking. Together, they form an adjectival noun, “daisuki”. Its hiragana form is “だいすき”, and its kanji form is simply “大好き”.

More Than One Definition

Daisuki can mean two things. Its first dictionary-based definition is when it is used to express one’s great fondness for something or someone. That can be anything or anyone tangible or intangible. You can exclaim that you love your best friend, rock climbing, ice cream, or the dream you had the other night using “daisuki”.

The second definition is used when someone wants to make it clear that what they’re talking about is at the top of their favorites list. Like your most favorite flavor of ramen, or your most favorite brother. 

Suki Desu, Versus Daisuki Desu, Versus Aishiteru

Daisuki can be used in both platonic and romantic relationships, as it conveys the feeling of romance (when taken in context) yet it can also convey feelings of great liking. Think in terms of adoration, tenderness, fondness, and affection - unlike the very formal and serious Aishiteru, which is linked with the profession of intense, general love. 

To the usual foreigner or guest, the Japanese may seem very shy and find affection hard to show due to their culture. Thus, aishiteru is rarely ever used. In fact, it is almost never used and only mentioned in dramatic Anime shows or in the movies. Daisuki is much more often used. This way, you could say that there are three general degrees of expressing this kind of love: Suki Desu, which is used to convey a lighthearted appreciation, Dasuki Desu, a larger appreciation with a hint of affection, and lastly, Aishiteru, or the most serious way of saying “I love you”. 

Other Ways of Saying I Love You

In other parts of Japan, “I love you” is said differently. Japan has many different dialects, such as Kansai-ben, which is spoken around the Osaka area. There, the phrase for I love you is “suki yanen”, or “好きやねん”. Even other regions in Japan are familiar with this term, as it became the brand of instant ramen. 

“恋”, is another way to express intense liking. It is pronounced as "koi". It doesn’t have a region where it is native from, but it is used to express the kind of love that is more on the romantic side rather than general, which is what “ai” infers to. 

If you haven’t already noticed, the Japanese often borrow words from the English language but make it their own in terms of pronunciation and writing. This is called “gairaigo”, which indicates a borrowed or loaned word. So, the word “love” turns into “ラブ”. The Japanese say "rabu". This is because, in Japanese, the sounds that the V and the L make do not exist. 

A word of warning – make sure to take the words koi and ai in their proper context. “Ai” connotes a dark shade of blue. Koi is famous for being a species of carp fish. What differs is the way that their kanji are written. As for listening to the words in speech, 

“Daikirai”, the Opposite of Daisuki 

The word “Daisuki” comes with an antonym – and that word is Daikirai. It is written as “大嫌い” in kanji, while its hiragana is “だいきらい”. It is also an adjectival noun and has only one definition - to hate someone or something to an extensive degree. 

More About Daisuki, the Japanese Website Dedicated to Anime

6 years ago, a video streaming service called “Daisuki” was launched. This platform focused mainly on anime. Its headquarters were in Tokyo, Japan, and it served all nations worldwide. Its holding companies included Bandai Namco Holdings and Anime Consortium Japan. Registration was only optional. The date Daisuki launched was May 16, 2013, but the company dissolved on October 31, 2017. 

The full name of the company is Kabushiki-gashia Daisuki, written in Japanese as “株式会社ダイスキ”. 6 anime studios came together to create this website, including Dentsu, Aniplex, Toei Animation, and Sunrise, among others. While Anime Consortium Japan managed the company, other Japanese anime studios sponsored it, such as the Cool Japan Fund, Bandai Namco, and Asatsu-DK.

Of the entire venture, Asatsu-DK had the most shares, holding 26.3% of the company. All the other companies split their shares at 13.4%, except for Dentsu which has a 6.4% stake. At the time that the venture was running, Kunihiko Shibata was the venture’s CEO. 

Although technically the streaming service should have stopped by October 31, Dragon Ball Super still aired and finished on the 22nd of February 2018. Dragon Ball Super Card Game eventually took the show in.

Differentiating the Different Degrees of Daisuki

As you’re looking up what Daisuki means, you’re probably either truly concerned for what its definition is, or you’re looking to say it to someone (this is common among ryuugakusei or overseas students). So, which would you use? Suki da yo, or Daisuki da yo? They both can mean I love you – most especially Daisuki da yo.

The expression “Daisuki da yo”, alone has 3 degrees of expression, possibly because it is used so often that it relies heavily on context. The first rate or degree pertains to having a certain intensity of liking something or someone. Next, an even more intense degree, where you want to emphasize that you really like something. The third is the most intense use of the phrase, which is akin to saying “I love you” in western notions. 

The first degree of Daisuki could be used for anything as mundane as a hobby that you enjoy doing, or food you really like. The same word can be used even when taken up a notch. For example, if a girl and guy went out, and the guy tells the girl “I really love spending time with you”, post their date, Daisuki can also be used for that.

Finally, Daisuki could be used to say “I love you” in the serious way it is meant. This is only said when you really feel very strong feelings for the other person or want to let them know that you care. It conveys strong feelings of both loving and liking that person. For example, if you’re about to leave for a long trip and want to tell your sister you love her, you still use Daisuki, or Daisuki da yo. 

Japanese Men Are Not as Likely to Say These Words

Western culture passes around "I love you" more often than other cultures do because of its outgoing and open nature. When it comes to the dating scene in Japan, it’s a different story. don’t expect Japanese men to be as open to saying this as American men are. 

There are many reasons why Japanese men are afraid to say it. Majority of them want to say it only when the moment is right, or they’re too shy to show their true feelings using such strong words. Many of them stick with the casual “Suki da”, because anything more intense than that may be too soon to say. In Japan, men also think saying “I love you” compromises their masculinity and privacy, as there is cultural pressure on them to look and stay calm, cool, and collected always. They must always keep a cool mug.  

Other Japanese men simply haven’t found love yet. This is common among the younger generation, who aren’t shacking up as much as the older generations are. Then there’s the fear that saying Daisuki too soon could flatter the woman and give her too much power play in the romantic situation. Lastly, some of them don’t see the point of verbalizing it when it’s already shown in their actions.

Here’s the question – are you ready to say Daisuki?