How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (2023)

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‘Cool’ is a very flexible word in the English language. It can be used to describe someone’s fashion sense, action movie stunts, or a gift you received from a friend.

It’s also used as a response in agreement to something or someone: ‘Let’s head to the amusement park.’ ‘Cool!’

The most popular Japanese word for cool is kakkoii (カッコイイ / かっこいい), and it can also be used in nearly the same manner as in English. But did you know that there’s a variety of ways to say cool in Japanese? There are words for ‘cool guy’, ‘cool taste (in fashion)’ and a lot more.

Table Of Contents

  1. Kakkoii
  2. Ii yo / ii ne
  3. Yabai
  4. Sugoi
  5. Saikou
  6. Subarashii
  7. Oshare
  8. Sensu ga ii
  9. Shibui
  10. Ikemen
  11. Yatta
  12. Manji




Kakkoii (格好いい / カッコイイ / かっこいい) is the most common Japanese word for cool. It also means ‘good looking’, ‘handsome’, and ‘stylish’. Typically, it is used to describe the fashion style of a person, or the appearance of a person or object.

You wouldn’t use kakkoii for abstract ideas; in this case, it is better to say ii ne (いいね) or one of the other phrases discussed later on.

The word kakkoii comes from the words kakkou (格好 / かっこう) meaning ‘appearance’, and ii (良い / いい) which means ‘good’. Nowadays, however, it is usually written in hiragana or katakana, or a mixture of both:

  • かっこいい
  • カッコイイ
  • カッコいい

Want to learn how to read Japanese? Download your free hiragana and katakana workbook here!

Pretty sure most anime fans have heard this word in an episode or two before. Sometimes, users of the word prefer the slang version kakkee (かっけー). In Haikyuu!!, the character Hinata uses kakkee a lot to compliment their libero, Nishinoya, when he uses his move called ‘Rolling Thunder’.

To say ‘very cool’ in casual Japanese, you can say meccha kakkoii (めっちゃかっこいい). The word meccha means ‘very’ or ‘extremely’. Similarly, totemo kakkoii (とてもかっこいい) is a more polite way to say ‘very cool’!

When used to describe a person’s appearance, kakkoii can mean ‘handsome’ or ‘attractive’. It is basically just used for boys/men. If you want to compliment a girl’s appearance, it’s safer to say kawaii or one of these other Japanese words for beautiful. However, you can use kakkoii for a girl to describe her cool behaviour or skills.

Ii yo / ii ne

いいよ / いいね

That’s cool

When casually conversing with your Japanese friends and you want to agree with what someone is saying, ii yo (いいよ) or ii ne (いいね) is appropriate. It means ‘okay’, ‘sure’, ‘no problem’, or ‘I’m cool with it’. Note that this informal way of saying okay is not suitable for a business setting.

This comes from the word yoi (良い / よい) and is conjugated as an i-adjective. Adding yo (よ) or ne (ね) adds emphasis to your agreement and can convey enthusiasm.




Sometimes, yabai (ヤバイ / やばい) can be associated with a negative outcome because of its original meaning of ‘dangerous’. In this case, yabai can also mean ‘terrific’, ‘awesome’, or ‘crazy’ in a good way.

It can be difficult to determine if yabai is used positively or negatively, but the key is to understand the context of the situation.




How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (2)

Sugoi (すごい) is one way to say ‘awesome’ or ‘incredible’ in Japanese. This word is typically used in two ways: as an exclamation to convey amazement, and as an adverb meaning ‘really’ or ‘very’.

As a standalone expression, sugoi is used when you see someone doing an impressive action or when you see something amazing. A stunning view of Mt. Fuji? Sugoi! Your friend shows off their crazy hidden dance skills? Sugoi!

As an adverb, sugoi or sugoku (凄く / すごく) is used to intensify the positive or negative traits of something. For example, sugoi ame can mean ‘awful rain’, while sugoi hanabi can mean ‘amazing fireworks’.

There are many cool ways to use sugoi (no pun intended) and this article by Alex Rockin Japanese explains them very well!

The more masculine and slangy form is sugee (スゲー).



The best

The word saikou (最高 / さいこう) is a way to say ‘best’, ‘wonderful’, or ‘great’. It can be used to describe a person, object, or experience.

Saikou is made up of the following kanji with their onyomi readings: sai (最 / サイ) for ‘utmost’ and kou (高 / コウ) for ‘high’.




Another way to say cool in Japanese in an abstract way is subarashii (素晴らしい / すばらしい). It means ‘wonderful’, ‘splendid’, or ‘magnificent’. It is used in the same manner as the rest of the adjectives listed previously, and it can be a great compliment for someone!

You can say subarashii yakiniku to compliment the cook, or say subarashii when your friend flawlessly plays the violin, etc.




How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (3)

Now this word is more specific to cool fashion styles. Oshare (お洒落 / おしゃれ) is frequently seen in fashion magazines, stores, or social media posts. It means ‘stylish’ or ‘fashionable’ and is also spelled out in katakana (オシャレ).

When describing a smartly-dressed person, you can refer to them as oshare-san (お洒落さん / おしゃれさん). You can find many oshare-san in fashion and shopping districts like Harajuku, Shinjuku, or Shibuya.

Sensu ga ii


Cool taste

Sensu ga ii (センスがいい) is a way to say ‘you have good taste in ___’! Sensu refers to one’s sense in fashion, music, or even humor. Ii (いい) as said earlier, means ‘good’.

This phrase is a great compliment for anyone. That way, you are letting them know that you find their interests and style cool.



Old-school cool

How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (4)

The word shibui (渋い / しぶい) originally means ‘elegant and unobtrusive’, and refers to a certain aesthetic that is simple and classic, yet exudes a calm elegance. Think coffee shops, retro-style fashion and accessories.

Its dictionary meaning is ‘bitter’ or ‘harsh’, but young people now use shibui as a way to describe the ‘old-school cool’ aesthetic. A person’s voice or face can also be called shibui (ex. shibui koe) – with a positive connotation like being dandy or the mature type of ‘cool’.



Cool guy

Ikemen (イケメン) means ‘cool guy’ or ‘handsome man’. They usually have an attractive hairstyle, face, or personality, manly and built physique – the ultimate heartthrob!

Anime, manga, and video games always have at least one character that falls into the category of ikemen. Japanese idols and actors are also called ikemen, and many polls are held to find out fan favorites.

The word originates from iketeru (イケてる) which means ‘cool’ or ‘stylish’, and men (面 / メン) meaning ‘face’. It is typically written in katakana.




The expression yatta (やった) is a word for ‘cool’ made for jump-for-joy situations! Yatta is the Japanese equivalent of ‘woohoo!’ or ‘hooray!’.

This expresses happiness about a good result, like a good grade, winning a contest, achieving a goal, and more.



Maji manji (マジまんじ / マジ卍) was popularized as an internet slang by young Japanese high schoolers back in 2016-2017. It means ‘cool’, ‘wow’ or ‘awesome’ and generally expresses excitement or approval. Manji already existed as a standalone expression, but the addition of maji was only recent.

Since trends get old quickly, you might sound strange trying to use manji on the internet nowadays, but let’s get to know the background of the kanji.

The swastika symbol is controversial in the West because of how it was used by the Nazis during World War II, but when it comes to Buddhism, it is a positive symbol! It means ‘luck’ and ‘peace’ and is used on maps to mark the location of Buddhist temples.

How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (5)

Words for cool in Japanese

As you can see, there are heaps of words for cool, awesome, great in Japanese!

Want to be one of the cool kids and learn how to speak Japanese? We recommend JapanesePod101. Sign up for free and start learning real Japanese, as it’s spoken today.

How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (6)

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How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (7)
How to Say Cool In Japanese (Kakkoii and Beyond) (8)

Thea Ongchua

Thea is a freelance content writer, currently majoring in Japanese studies. She likes to create art and draws inspiration from film and music. Thea was inspired to study Japanese language and culture by reading the literary works of Haruki Murakami and Edogawa Ranpo.


What are Japanese expressions for cool? ›

カッケー (kakkee)

"Kakkee" is an abbreviation of the phrase カッコイイ or “cool” in Japanese. Pronouncing the word as Kakkee instead helps show that you really find the person attractive.

Does Kakkoii mean cool? ›

Kakkoii is a common phrase meaning “cool” or “handsome.” It can function in a sentence as a normal i–adjective or on its own as an interjection. It is used in reference to things that are physically present that meet your enthusiastic approval.

What does Kakkoii mean in Japanese? ›

格好(かっこう)- Read as Kakkou

2. いい – Read as Ii. The former refers to the “Appearance” of someone or something whereas the latter is an adjective used to describe something as “Good”. When put together, these 2 words form Kakkoii, of which would be used to describe someone or something as “Good Looking” or “Cool”.

What does 4649 mean in Japanese? ›

4649 can be read as "yo-ro-shi-ku" (よろしく), meaning "best regards".

How do you flirt in Japan? ›

PDA in Japan

Japanese are known to be shy, so once they become a couple, they flirt discreetly when in public. For example, you can see many couples walking hand-in-hand but not kissing much. Most Japanese feel embarrassed even just exchanging a small kiss on the cheek in public.

What's another way to say cool? ›

What are some synonyms for Cool? Awesome, Nice, Sweet, Excellent, Dope, Killer, Sick.

Can you call a girl Kakkoii? ›

When used to describe a person's appearance, kakkoii can mean 'handsome' or 'attractive'. It is basically just used for boys/men. If you want to compliment a girl's appearance, it's safer to say kawaii or one of these other Japanese words for beautiful.

Can you call a man kawaii? ›

For example, while it still maintains a feminine nuance, people can often describe (Japanese) men as 'kawaii' too. The common point kawaii things have are youthful and child-like features.

How do you say cool in anime? ›

かわいい (kawaii) is one of the most common Japanese words to hear in anime and about anime. It means “cute” in Japanese. かっこいい (kakkoii) is “cool” in Japanese, but it can also mean “handsome” or “attractive.” It's often used to describe guys that the main heroine finds attractive.

What is cute in Japanese language? ›

Kawaii (Japanese: かわいい or 可愛い, IPA: [kawaiꜜi]; 'lovely', 'loveable', 'cute', or 'adorable') is the culture of cuteness in Japan.

How do you compliment a guy in Japanese? ›

In Japanese, if you want to compliment a guy, you'll usually say he's かっこいい (kakkoii). This means he's “cool”, but also means he's good-looking or handsome.

What is the Japanese word for pretty boys? ›

Bishōnen (美少年) (IPA: [biɕoꜜːneɴ] ( listen); also transliterated bishounen) is a Japanese term literally meaning "beautiful youth (boy)" and describes an aesthetic that can be found in disparate areas in East Asia: a young man of androgynous beauty.

What does 33 mean in Japan? ›

The numeral 33, for example, can be pronounced sanzan, which may mean either "troublesome" or "birth difficulty," the numeral 42 can be pronounced shi ni, meaning "to death," and the number 19 can be pronounced jū ku, meaning "intense suffering." In 1955, the anthropologist Edward Norbeck dismissed such explanations as ...

What does 753 mean in Japanese? ›

753 is a Japanese tradition to celebrate kids' growth. They wear kimonos and usually go to a shrine to "thank" for their healthy growth and wish for a bright future. Boys do it at the age of 5, girls do it at the age of 3 & 7 yrs old.

What does 39 mean in Japan? ›

So if someone texts you “39” or “3 9,” you can read it “san kyu”… a.k.a., “sankyu,” a Japanese-inflected version of the English, “thank you.” (You're welcome.) “39” has become common texting shorthand for gratitude in Japan, but it's only the tip of the numeric wordplay iceberg.

Does Suki mean love? ›

Conveying fondness in Japanese. First of all, suki (好き). The latter can be used more lightly than the other three. It expresses affection rather than literal love and is usually translated into “like” in English. For this reason, it can be used between friends as well as between partners.

Is it OK to kiss in Japan? ›

We hold hands and kiss in public often in Japan. The only place we don't kiss is on a train, bus, or subway or at the hot springs. For all couples, same sex or not, it is culturally rude to kiss on the trains or subways or buses.

Can I kiss a Japanese girl on the first date? ›

Japanese first dates are neutral — there are no public displays of affection and no overt physical or verbal displays of desire.

What is extremely cool slang? ›

Dope - Cool or awesome. Extra - Over-the-top, extreme. Fit - Short for outfit. Fire - Hot, trendy, amazing, or on point (formerly "straight fire")

What do Gen Z say instead of cool? ›

Fire. In Gen Z slang term, “fire” means something is really amazing or cool. They also use it to express excitement or point out a new trend within their culture.

What is a cool way to say awesome? ›

  • amazing.
  • astonishing.
  • awesome.
  • breathtaking.
  • grand.
  • impressive.
  • majestic.
  • mind-blowing.

What do Japanese girls call their lovers? ›

Koibito. Koibito (恋人 / こいびと) is the Japanese word for 'sweetheart' or 'lover'.

What is Sugoi desu ne? ›

Sugoi desu ne! = Lit. Really? Great! このアニメは ほんとうに すごいですね!

What is opposite of kawaii? ›

Notes. 6. Kimokawaii: An abbreviation of kimochi warui kedo, kawaii, which means "weird but cute." Kimochi warui is the complete opposite of kawaii, but if something weird is liked it can be grouped among the kawaii.

What is cute in anime language? ›

Kawaii (かわいい)

This is a word that is constantly used in Japanese culture. It basically describes anything that can be seen as cute, such as a stuffed animal or a pretty dress!

Is kawaii gendered? ›

Kawaii is therefore an important aspect of gender identity in young children, particularly girls, because it is associated especially with femininity.

What does Ara Ara mean? ›

Ara Ara is a Japanese expression, a word you say when you are moved or surprised (A term that repeats the interjection “Ara” twice) and means oh dear or oh my in English, depending on the situation. I'm sure you've seen scenes where women use “Ara Ara” in anime, but it's also used in real life.

How to say I love you in anime? ›

How do you say 'I love you' in Japanese?
  1. Aishiteru (愛してる) – 'I love you'
  2. Suki yanen (好きやねん) – 'I love ya'
  3. Koishii desu (恋しいです) – 'I yearn for you'
  4. Suki Da (愛してる) – 'I like you'
  5. Suki Yo (好きよ ) – 'I like you'
  6. Suki Dayo (好きだよ) – 'I like you'
Oct 6, 2022

Is it OK to say kawaii? ›

This is especially true when it comes to women. Whereas in English-speaking countries some may take issue with what they perceive as a diminutive or demeaning connotation to the word “cute,” in Japan, calling a girl kawaii is almost universally considered a compliment.

What is kawaii slang for Japanese? ›

One of the most enigmatic Japanese words is kawaii (hereinafter, this word is employed without italicisation). It is often translated into English as 'cute' or 'pretty' (Yomota, 2006).

What does kawaii desu ne mean? ›

Kawaii desu ne means, it's cute, isn't it?

Do Japanese guys say I love you? ›

Linguistic differences aside, there is a larger cultural difference that causes a mistranslation to occur. Japanese people simply do not regularly say “I love you.” Someone might say “Aishiteru” in a sappy romantic movie, but overall the lingering impression after one professes their love in Japanese is a profound ...

How do you say pretty girl in Japan? ›

Bijin (美人) is a Japanese term which literally means "a beautiful person" and is synonymous with bijo (美女, "beautiful woman").

What to say to your Japanese crush? ›

How to say I like you in Japanese
EnglishHiraganaJapanese pronunciation
I like youすきだよsukidayo
I like you lotsだいすきだよdaisuki dayo
I like you so muchすごくすきだよsugoku suki dayo
I really like youとてもすきだよtotemo suki dayo
10 more rows
Apr 26, 2022

What is Japanese slang for amazing? ›

やばい (yabai) = Terrible, ridiculous, crappy; amazing, awesome. This phrase is used all over Japan and is common in everyday language. A friend may use it to tell you that a situation is really good. Or it might mean things are bad, really bad, depending on the context of the situation.

What is a boku boy? ›

Ore: usually the male who is over 16 to 18 years old call himself. Boku: usually the boy who is younger thatn 16 years old call himself. Occasionally young female call herlsef as "Boku".

What is boy boy love in Japanese? ›

The Japanese genre is currently known by the katakana name ボーイズラブ (boizu rabu) or the abbreviation BL (ビー・エル). In the West however, it is still predominantly known by the older Japanese name of yaoi.

What does 69 mean in Japan? ›

Oral sex is the stimulation of the genitals with the tongue. 69 got its name because the circles on the 6 and the 9 each represent a head, with the tails being the body. While oral sex is often safer than unprotected vaginal sex or anal sex, there is still a risk of infection and disease.

What does 7 mean in Japan? ›

Lucky Numbers

Seven is a lucky number in Japan largely because of its significance in Buddhism. Additionally, seven is used with the Seven Gods of Luck (七福神). Eight is a less popular yet still lucky number.

Why is 88 special in Japan? ›

88th Birthday

The day is known as yone-no-iwai and is special because when the characters for eighty-eight are written together in Japanese, the characters resemble the kanji for rice . Rice plays a major role in the lifestyle of many Japanese, being a food consumed at nearly all ages.

How would you say 7 1 9 in Japanese? ›

Basic Japanese counting: 1 to 10 in Japanese
Nr.Sino-Japanese readingNative Japanese reading
6ろく (roku)むっつ (muttsu)
7しち、なな (shichi, nana)ななつ (nanatsu)
8はち (hachi)やっつ (yattsu)
9く、きゅう (ku, kyuu)ここのつ (kokonotsu)
6 more rows
Nov 22, 2019

What is 9999 Japanese? ›

Numbers from 1001 to 1999, 2001 to 2999, ... and 9001 to 9999 are formed with multiples of 1000 and number from 1 to 999: e.g. 1051 is sen gojū ichi (1000+50+1), 3006 is sanzen roku (3000+6) and 9999 is kyūsen kyūhyaku kyūjū kyū (9000+900+90+9).

What does 110 mean in Japan? ›

Throughout Japan, an emergency phone call can be made free of charge from any phone including public pay phones. Ambulance – Dial 119. Fire – Dial 119. Police – Dial 110.

What does 13 mean in Japan? ›

Due to these unlucky connotations, the numbers 4 and 9 are often pronounced yon and kyuu instead. The number 13 is occasionally thought of as unlucky, although this is imported from Western culture.

What does 20 mean in Japan? ›

Coming of Age Day
Official name成人の日 (Seijin no Hi)
Observed byJapan
SignificanceCongratulates and encourages all those who have reached the age of maturity (20 years old) over the past year and celebrates adulthood
7 more rows

What does 10 mean in Japan? ›

Native Japanese counting: “hitotsu” (1), “futatsu” (2), “mittsu” (3), “yottsu” (4), “itsutsu” (5), “muttsu” (6), “nanatsu” (7), “yattsu” (8), “kokonotsu” (9), and “tou” (10). Sino-Japanese reading can be found in the table below under “English pronunciation.” It has two reading options for numbers 4, 7, and 9.

What is the Japanese word for trendy? ›

trendy {adjective}

ナウ {adj.} trendy. トレンディー {adj.}

What is the meaning of Shibui? ›

Shibui (渋い) (adjective), shibumi (渋み) (noun), or shibusa (渋さ) (noun) are Japanese words that refer to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. Like other Japanese aesthetics terms, such as iki and wabi-sabi, shibui can apply to a wide variety of subjects, not just art or fashion.

What is the cutest Japanese word? ›

We can't think of Japan without associating it with the word kawaii! Not only is kawaii (かわいい) an adjective to describe something that is 'cute', 'lovely', or 'adorable', but it is also part of a bigger culture in Japan.

What is Momoko? ›

Momoko (桃子, 百子, 杏子, ももこ, モモコ) is a Japanese name for girls. Momo is usually written with the kanji character 桃 for "peach" or 百 for "one hundred" or 杏 for "apricot", followed by -ko, a common suffix for girls' names (meaning "child").

What does 555 mean in Japan? ›

The number 5 in Japanese is ご (go). So when writing 555, you're saying “Go, go, go!” It's used in online gaming primarily. But it's not the only number you'll see pop up as internet slang! 888 is also used because it's read はちはちはち (hachi hachi hachi), which is the onomatopoeia sound for clapping.

What is Japanese slang for pretty? ›

Bijin (美人) is a Japanese term which literally means "a beautiful person" and is synonymous with bijo (美女, "beautiful woman").

Is cute a compliment in Japan? ›

かわいい [Kawaii] – Cute!

Kawaii is the perfect compliment for a girl in Japanese. For instance, if you want to tell a Japanese girl that you like her dress, then this is the word you'd need to use.

Is Baka a swear word? ›

What does baka mean? The short answer: Baka (馬鹿 or ばか) is a Japanese swear or curse word meaning idiot, jackass, dumbass, or unthinking fool.

What does Sabi mean? ›

'Sabi' originally means the state of deterioration over the passage of time. It expresses the effect that time has on a substance or any object. In the concept of wabi sabi, Sabi is not a sense of desolation, but a much more desirable quality.

What is kanso in Japanese? ›

Kanso is a concept which comes from Japanese Zen philosophy and emphasises simplicity. In terms of aesthetics and interior design, it's all about keeping things simple, free from clutter and functional.


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