20 Cute Japanese Words to Make Your Heart Melt!

Published June 27th, 2021

When you learn Japanese from a textbook, you get all the useful words and phrases for communication. It can sometimes be a bit dry without the fun stuff. The Japanese language has an abundance of cute and fun words that aren’t always introduced when you first start learning Japanese. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth knowing. Here is a list of the top 20 cute Japanese words that are definitely going to make your heart melt!

1. Doki doki (ドキドキ)

Do you remember the feeling of nervousness when you see your crush? Or when your heart beats fast as if it’s thumping to get out of your chest? In Japanese, you can describe this feeling as “doki doki” (ドキドキ). The word itself is like the sound of a fast heartbeat. You can use this word as a verb, too, by adding ”suru” (する) to make “doki doki suru” (ドキドキする). This translates to be excited (with a racing heart) or when you have butterflies in your stomach.

Make sure not to mix it up with “toki doki” (時々), which means ”sometimes”.

2. Kura kura (クラクラ)

When you feel dizzy or giddy, you can describe the feeling as “kura kura” (クラクラ). Even though the act of being dizzy itself isn’t all that fun, at least the word has a cute ring to it. Use it as a verb by adding ”suru” (する) to make “kura kura suru” (クラクラする)

3. Kawaii (かわいい)

What’s a list of cute Japanese words without the Japanese word for “cute” in it, and that is “kawaii” (かわいい). While it translates to “adorable” and “cute”, this word covers a wider range than just that. You can call a kitty or puppy “kawaii”, but you can also refer to an action as “kawaii”. This is when the word holds the meaning of “adorable” that makes you want to show your affection.

“Kawaii” can also be written in kanji as 可愛い, but it’s more common to spell it out in hiragana.

4. Kirei (綺麗)

While “kawaii” is a common compliment, a step up from it is “kirei” (綺麗). This Japanese word means “pretty”. Not only does the word sound cute when spoken, but it’s also considered as a sweet compliment. You can say this to your girlfriend or among your group of friends (for the ladies). Since it has a more feminine tone, I don’t think it’s best to say this to your guy pals. They might even take it the wrong way, who knows!

5. Niko niko (ニコニコ)

The Japanese word for smile is “emi” (笑み). The same kanji is used for the verb “to laugh” (笑う). Those are the common ways to express those feelings, but why not try a new word for “smile”? “Niko niko” (ニコニコ) is a cute alternative to refer to your or someone else’s smile in Japanese.

6. Utsukushii (美しい)

So we have a word for “cute” and a word for “pretty”. What if you want to take it up another notch? The Japanese word “utsukushii” (美しい) translates to “beautiful”. I think it’s such a lovely way to compliment your girlfriend or friends. When said, the word sounds extremely cute. It’ll melt her heart more than it’ll melt yours!

7. Momo (もも)

This next cute Japanese word is quite common to use as a nickname for someone. In fact, some people have their real names as this, too! “Momo” (もも) in Japanese means “peach”. Because it’s such a cute and endearing word, a lot of Japanese people would name their children or pets as “momo”.

8. Mago mago (まごまご)

Have you ever been confused, it’s like your head is spinning trying to process the information? “Mago mago” (まごまご) is the Japanese word to mean “confused”. Similar to dizziness, being confused is not the most pleasant thing. But at least the word is cute to say. Who knows, the pleasantry of it might even help with your confusion!

9. Bara (ばら)

There’s a word in Japanese that translates to “scattered” or “disperse” and that is “bara bara” (バラバラ). However, if you only take half of the word, “bara” (ばら) actually is referred to a rose. You might want to be careful when referring to the beautiful flower a couple of times. If you say “rose, rose”, which is “bara, bara”, you might actually be conveying a whole different meaning!

10. Hoshi (ほし)

I find this next word extremely cute. “Hoshi” (ほし) is the Japanese word for “star”. I think it’s adorable because, not only is the pronunciation itself is cute, but it’s also because it’s close to the word for “desire” which is “hoshii” (欲しい). Try saying “hoshi ga hoshii” (ほしが欲しい): “I want a star”.

11. Momonga (モモンガ)

In Honshu, Japan, you can find flying squirrels in the forest. If you’ve ever seen one before, you know that they’re incredibly cute animals! And so is their name: momonga (モモンガ). This word can refer to flying squirrels in general, but it’s more commonly used to refer to the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel. I don’t know about you, but that extra fact just made this Japanese word even cuter!

12. Gaki (ガキ)

If you have a young sibling or any little kids around you, call them this when they’re whining: gaki (ガキ). This word has the meaning of “brat”, but in an endearing way and not too negative. It’s best to only use it with someone you’re familiar with and not a stranger.

13. Koneko (子猫)

Can anything beat the cuteness of kittens? Except for puppies, not really. “Cat” in Japanese is “neko” (猫), so what about kittens? We add the kanji for “young” or “child” at the start and that is “ko” (子), to make “koneko” (子猫). Even the Japanese word for “kitten” is cute. Very befitting.

14. Chou Chou (蝶々)

Whether big or small, butterflies are super cute. What’s even cuter is the name for it: chou chou (蝶々). You can even shorten it to just “chou” when referring to them. Either way, it’s still a cute word, especially if you see a kid pointing to a butterfly and saying “chou chou!”

15. Kisu (キス)

I don’t know about you, but I like the word “kiss”. In Japanese, they also use the word but in katakana form: “kisu” (キス). When someone asks their partner for a kiss, they would say: “kisu shite” (キスして), which is like saying “let’s kiss”. Isn’t that the cutest?

Do take note that this word should be used with only your partner. It can be quite inappropriate otherwise.

16. Tamago (卵)

One of the first few words in Japanese that we learn is “tamago” (卵), which means “egg”. And it really does just mean “egg” most of the time. However, in Japanese culture, it can be used to have a different meaning. On its own, it can have the meaning of “rookie” or “noobie”. If you attach it to something else, it can mean that you’re a beginner of that skill. “Dezainā no tamago” (デザイナーの卵) means that you’re a rookie designer.

17. Bigaku (美学)

One of the most popular words that people like to use in English is “aesthetics”. The Japanese equivalent is “bigaku” (美学), but this word has a cuter connotation to it. When you describe someone as “bigaku”, it’s describing their love of cute and adorable things. It’s common for people who are into Harajuku fashion to describe younger people dressing up in cutesy styles.

18. Aikyou (愛郷)

Not only is this word cute but it’s also quite heartwarming. “Aikyou” (愛郷) translates to “love for one’s hometown”. Literally, it means “love town” but when used, it’s always to describe the feeling of homesickness of the place you grew up in.

19. Koi (恋)

Nothing can make your heart melt more than the word for “love” itself: “koi” (恋). I think it’s beautiful in meaning and in the kanji used. But not only that, it has a cute pronunciation that you can’t help but to smile when it’s said.

20. Mamoru (守)

Last but not least, we have “mamoru” (守). Other than the word sounding cute itself, the meaning is simply magnificent. “Mamoru” means “to protect” or “to cherish”, and if someone says to you that they want to “mamoru” you, you’re definitely going to feel like your heart skipped a beat (or “doki doki”).

Which word is the cutest?

There are definitely loads more cute Japanese words. The list is endless. But hopefully, these 20 highlighted ones are more than enough to make your heart melt for now. Which do you think is the cutest Japanese word? Let us know in the comments if you plan on using any of these words in the near future!