Love can be translated as “AI” or “KOI” in Japanese. I think all words will be translated into the same “love” word in English. But in Japanese, AI and KOI are similar but clearly different.
Ai is love for everyone while Koi is for someone who you fell in love with. Ai includes all the affection and warm feelings against people like your family, friends, lover, and anything you adore. On the other hand, Koi is a kind of love, but it’s only for someone you love as more than a friend.
How about RENAI? This word includes both!
Renai belongs to Koi. Renai means to feel romantic about someone or the state you love someone more than a friend.
The verb “SUKI” is also used to mean love. The translation for the word SUKI is “like,” But if you use it against a person, it’s equivalent to “love.” For example, if you say “Anata ga suki desu (I like you),” it’s the same meaning as “I ‘m falling in love with you.” Love or like? This may confuse you a bit, but in principle, we Japanese people aren’t used to saying “愛してる Ai shiteru (I love you)” in spoken language. So we try to avoid saying it directly and prefer to use “好き Suki” since it’s a rather moderate expression and is easy to say.
Japanese culture sometimes regards it rude and shameless to show emotions in front of people. It’s changing little by little under the Western culture, but many people still hesitate to say “I love you” in front of people.
I hope this post will help you to understand how to say love in Japanese!