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Koi no Yokan: 8 Japanese Love Songs for You to Fall in Love With

Let’s celebrate the Valentine season with songs by eight modern Japanese artists, telling stories that range from first love confessions to fantastical tales of fate.

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(Graphic design by Micah Go, featuring screenshots from Prologue, Ano Yume o Nazotte, us, and Kokuhaku)

Being home to the second largest music market in the world, Japan has an undeniable love for music, and the topic of love in its every form is a favorite among Japanese artists to write and sing about. The popularity of modern love songs, like the ONE OK ROCK classic “Wherever You Are,” is a testament to this. 

So, this year, we celebrate the Valentine season with songs by eight other modern Japanese artists, telling stories that range from first love confessions to fantastical tales of fate. Join our celebration, below:

‘Prologue’ by Shota Shimizu (featuring Aimer)

(Screenshot from Prologue’s music video)

Let’s start off with an aptly-titled song by Shota Shimizu which he sings as a duet with Aimer: “Prologue.” This track is sung from the perspective of two people who share the same painful fate of having been in relationships that ended prematurely. But perhaps by fate as well, they are drawn towards each other, igniting a possibility for the two of them to have a second chance at love. But will they take it? 

Follow Shota Shimizu and watch the music video here to find where the answer lies.

‘Kokuhaku’ (Confession) by My First Story

(Screenshot from Kokuhaku’s music video)

Speaking of chances, if given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to convey how you feel for that special person, would you grab it? This song by My First Story is a mellow, piano-driven track that wonderfully captures the beautiful feeling of a “kokuhaku” or a confession as one grapples with the fear (and excitement) of whether or not the other person feels the same way for them.

Follow MyFirstStory and watch the music video here for this song about such a confession。

‘=LOVE’ by =LOVE

(Screenshot from =LOVE’s music video)

While we are on the topic of love confessions, why not listen to a very lively track about it? Produced by former AKB48 member and center Rino Sashihara, =LOVE’s self-titled debut single is a song that reminds us of the dynamic feelings of young love and meeting, as the 11-piece idol group sings of it, our “ideal” person for the first time.

Follow =LOVE and watch them perform the song in their music video here.

‘us’ by milet

(Screenshot from us’ music video)

Here, milet weaves a more specific story of confession, singing about the lovers’ struggle to completely convey their feelings, especially after they suddenly share a kiss and wonder how a full-on confession would change their momentarily undefined relationship.  

Follow milet and watch the story unfold through the language of dance in this music video, here

‘Kataomoi’ (One-Sided Love) by Aimer

(Screenshot from Kataomoi’s music video)

Ah yes, one-sided love. Perhaps an experience many of us would wish to never go through. However, in this light, electric guitar-led track, Aimer sings of that very experience in a more positive and hopeful light. The words proclaim that she will continue to love the other person, in this life and in the next, with the hope that someday that person may come to understand how she feels. It is a song that leads us to ask ourselves if an unrequited love is truly worth pursuing and fighting for to the very end. 

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Follow Aimer and watch the music video here.

‘Betelgeuse’ by Yuuri

(Screenshot from Betelgeuse’s music video)

Let us take a break from love confessions for a bit and listen to this song by rising singer-songwriter Yuuri

It can be said that, thematically, this song is quite different from the rest. Supposedly dedicated to his best friend, the song is about how they met one starry night and, from that point on, how their friendship only grew stronger. They vow to always shine in unison like the bright stars that guided them to meet each other. 

While the listener is free to also interpret this as a romantic love song, I believe it is quite beautiful to see it from the perspective Yuuri initially intended it to be: a love that consists of support, assurance, and strong connections between friends. 

Follow Yuuri and watch the music video for “Betelgeuse” here.

‘Flower’ by MyDearDarlin’

(Screenshot from Flower’s music video)

Another song of assurance, this comforting track by idol group MyDearDarlin’ talks about being there for the person or the people we love, especially when they feel most alone and afraid. In love and in life, it will not always be about sunshine and rainbows. The darkest and loneliest nights could always come, and when they do, MyDearDarlin’ beautifully reminds us to be there for each other. 

Follow MyDearDarlin’ and watch the idol group perform the song through its music video here.

‘Ano Yume o Nazotte’ (Tracing That Dream) by YOASOBI

(Screenshot from Ano Yume o Nazotte’s music video)

Lastly, sharing the same album that contains the viral track “Yoru ni Kakeru (Racing Into the Night),” YOASOBI’s “Ano Yume o Nazotte” or “Tracing That Dream” is an emotional tale of young love filled with fate, fantasy, and fireworks (literally). It is based on the short story by Souta Ishiki entitled Yume no Shizuku to Hoshi no Hana (2021, Futaba Publishing, in Japanese), which, in my opinion, is as beautiful as the piece of music it inspired and is worth reading at least once!

(Author’s note: For all the graphic novel enthusiasts who are reading this, I believe there is even a manga version for it!)

Follow YOASOBI and watch the animated music video here.

There you have it! Eight musical tracks for you to fall in love with this Valentine’s season.

I chose to call this collection of songs “Koi no Yokan,” the Japanese term for the feeling a person gets when they meet someone for the first time and they know that they will, from that point onwards, inevitably fall in love with that other person. 

When I listened to these songs for the first time, I recalled how I knew I would have them on loop afterwards. It’s my own “koi no yokan,” so to speak.  I hope by sharing these tracks with you, you will feel that same spark with at least one of them! 

Author: Micah Go

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