15+ Cutest Japanese Phrases You Need to Know

Are you interested in learning Japanese? How about learning some cute Japanese words and phrases at first? Japanese is a fascinating and rich language with a long history. It’s also a language full of cute words and expressions to describe just the right feeling like “Momo or [Peach]” and “Doki-Doki or [Excited]”. Today we’ve got a list of some of the cutest Japanese words that every Japanese learner can appreciate.

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 a lot of cute and fun words that aren’t always introduced when you first start learning Japanese.

At First

Japanese is full of words The best way to start learning Japanese is with “Hiragana”. You can start by studying “Hiragana”, which will help you develop a firm root for reading Japanese. “Hiragana” is used to construct sentences around more advanced characters (Kanji). Also, there is another way to write Japanese is “Katakana”.

In addition, “Katakana” is similar to hiragana, but it is used to express sounds and represent borrowed words from other languages (for example, “Pinku” or ピンク, meaning pink). Here are some cute Japanese words that either sound that way, or refer to cute things to get you started. Please enjoy learning the Cute Japanese phrases below!

TOP Cute Japanese Words for Adjective

1. Kawaii / Cute かわいい

This is likely to be one of the most common cute Japanese words you already know. Use it for complementing anything that strikes you as cute. 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 the action as “Kawaii”. This is when the word holds the meaning of “adorable” which 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.

2.Kirei / Pretty きれい (綺麗)

This is another pleasant and complementary word. Much like with “Kawaii”[かわいい], use “Kirei”[きれい] to leave a positive remark about something that you find beautiful. While “Kawaii” is a common compliment, a step up from it is “Kirei”. This Japanese word means “Pretty”. Not only does the word sound cute when spoken, but it’s also considered a sweet compliment. You can say this to your girlfriend or among your group of friends (for the ladies).

3. Chotto / Just a Little ちょっと

“Chotto” is not only one of the most useful words in Japanese but also one of the cutest. You will hear people say “Chotto” in a lot of situations, describing a small amount of something or a small amount of time. And you’ll hear it said when a person is being asked to wait.

[Example]

① Chotto matte-kudasai ちょっと待ってください

Please wait a little bit/for a little while.

② Kare wa Chotto eigo-ga hanaseru ちょっと英語が話せます

He can speak a little English.

The word can also be used to give a polite negative response or to say ‘No’ more indirectly. And since politeness is paramount in Japanese, it’s essential to know it.

③ A: Nomi-ni ikanai?   飲みに行かない?

Want to go out drinking?

B: Aaah, Chotto…   あー、ちょっと。。

I can’t… [It means “cannot” indirectly]

Just a Bit More /Sukoshi 少し

Here we have another word for describing “Just a little bit”. It has a very similar meaning to “Chotto”, although it’s used a bit less. That doesn’t make it any less cute though.

④ Sukoshi kangaesasete. 少し考えさせて。

Let me think it over a little.

Cute Japanese Words for Onomatopoeia

4. Doki-doki / Excited ドキドキ(どきどき)

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 being 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”.

“Dokidoki” ドキドキ(どきどき)means Excited

“Tokidoki” ときどき(時々)means Sometimes

5. Niko-niko / Smile にこにこ(ニコニコ)

This is a cute way of saying smile, copying the repetitive or sound-alike traits of cute Japanese words. 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” (にこにこ) is a cute alternative to refer to your or someone else’s smile in Japanese.

6. Kura-kura / Dizzy くらくら

Unlike most cute Japanese words, “Kura-kura”(くらくら) only sounds cute. It actually means “Dizzy”. 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)

7. Mago-mago / Confused まごまご

Much like Kurakura, this is a repetitive sound for an unpleasant state, confusion. 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.

8. Goro-goro / The Rumbling of Thunder and Stomachs  

(ゴロゴロ)

  The Japanese language has a special relationship with onomatopoeias and words that refer to sounds. The adorable word “Goro-goro” is a prime example of that. This cute word can refer to any sort of rumbling sound. This includes thunder on a cloudy day, but it’s also used for hungry tummies and lazy cats. We can add “suru” after “Goro-goro” to change it into a verb. And as a verb “ゴロゴロする (goro-goro-suru)” it can mean all of these things as well as spending the day being idle and loafing around.

Note – Like most words that represent a sound, it’s written in katakana.

[Example]

  Kyouwa Ie de Goro-goro-shitai. 今日は家でゴロゴロしたい

  I want to just chill at home today.

9. Peko-peko / Hungry ぺこぺこ [ペコペコ]

 The state of being very hungry. When we use this, it means I am so hungry. The sound an empty stomach makes (Peko-peko [from the verb “Hekomu”[へこむ], meaning caved in]) gives us a way to say “I’m hungry” (Onaka ga Peko-peko, お腹がペコペコ). Not only the sounds, but also related to the sensations. This concept also works with many Japanese food words.

10. Kira-kira / Shiny きらきら [キラキラ]

“Kira-kira” (きらきら) means “shining, or to shine”. Pika-pika [ぴかぴか] is another word that has a similar meaning to “Kira-kira”. We often use the word, “Kira-kira” to say stars, but also to express something shiny.

 Cute Japanese Words for Nouns

1. Neko / Cat ねこ

Japan loves cats and ねこ is the Japanese word for both cats and things that are cat-like. Amusingly, adding an extra こ changes ”Cat” to ”Kitten” (こねこ).

2. Ringo / Apple りんご

This is the word used for” Apple.”

3. Momo / Peach もも

This repetitive word is the word” Peach”. We use “Peach” as a term of endearment. 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 “Momo”.

4. Tamago / Egg たまご

This fun-to-say word means” Egg.” 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, sometimes, it has 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 at that skill. “Dezainā no tamago” (デザイナーの卵) means that you’re a rookie designer.

[Example]

Designer-no-tamago desu  デザイナーの卵です

I’m a rookie illustrator.

5. Bara / Roses ばら

This word is used for roses. 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 be conveying a whole different meaning!

6. Ko / The Infant Marker — 子

This next one isn’t exactly a word, but it is a prefix that helps make other cute Japanese words. The particle (Ko) has a lot of meanings and one of them is to refer to children or offspring. As such, the Japanese use it as a prefix to make the names of different baby animals.

子猫 (Koneko) -“Kitten

子犬 (Koinu) -“Puppy

子羊 (Kohitsuji) -“Lamb

子牛 (Koushi) -“Calf

7. Momonga / The Flying Squirrel  モモンガ(ももんが)

 Did you know that in the forests of Honshu Japan, there are flying squirrels? Indeed Japan has one of the cutest animals around with an equally cute name – “Momonga” (モモンガ). The word can refer to flying squirrels, but most often is used to denote the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel. And the cute Japanese word is just perfect for what it describes.

[Bonus Phrases]

 Nyaa / The Cat’s Meow ニャー(にゃー)

This is the last onomatopoeia on our list, but we promise you’ll think it’s worth it. “Nyaa” (ニャー) is the sound cats make. Think of it as the Japanese ‘meow.’ The difference is in Japanese, you can adjust “Nyaa” to be even cuter. You can simply double the word “Nyanya” (ニャーニャー). And you can add on an ‘n’ to get Nyan (ニャン) and make it more adorable.

EnglishJapanese Meaning
1. KawaiiかわいいCute
2. Kireiきれい(綺麗)Beautiful
3. ChottoちょっとJust a little
4. Doki-dokiどきどき(ドキドキ)Excited
5. Niko-nikoにこにこ(ニコニコ)Smile
6. Kura-kuraくらくら(クラクラ)Dizzy
7. Mago-magoまごまごConfused
8. Goro-goroごろごろ(ゴロゴロ)Rumbling of Thunder and Stomachs
9. Peko-pekoペコペコ(ペコペコ)Hungry
10. Kira-kiraきらきら(キラキラ)Shiny
11. NekoねこCat
12. RingoりんごApple
13. MomoももPeach
14. Tamagoたまご(卵)Egg / Rookie
15. BaraバラRose / Scattered
16. KoInfant
17. Momongaももんが(モモンガ)Flying Squirrel

 

Which word is the cutest?

There are 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? I am sure that it is helpful to use these phrases in daily conversation and you can enjoy learning Japanese!

Summarize

  • There are a lot of Cute Words in Japanese, and they are written in “Hiragana” and “Katakana”. Sometimes, “Kanji”.
  • Most of the words that represent a sound, it’s written in “Katakana”.
  • Some words like “Bara”, “Tamago”, and “Goro-goro” have 2 different meanings, so when you use them, please be careful.
  • There are so many cute words more than this list, but at first, it is helpful for you to use those top phrases in daily conversation.

Not only about this, but I have written several articles about learning the Japanese language. Please find them here!

About Yuri Sensei 25 Articles
I am Yuri. I have worked for several companies, involved in assisting foreigners and teaching Japanese. I have also worked in Vietnam, teaching Japanese. I would like to help students abroad and teach Japanese culture. My hobbies are traveling abroad and sports, like tennis. Following excitement and discovering new things inspires me a lot. My joy in life is to help people overseas so that I can pass on the charm of Japanese culture.