The ‘untranslatable’ Japanese phrase that predicts love

The ‘untranslatable’ Japanese phrase ‘Koi No Yokan’ is ‘the premonition of love’. BBC Culture asked Japanese speakers what it meant to them.

“We have the word for love at first sight – Hitomebore,” says language director Tomoyo Kamimura. Yet Koi No Yokan is different: it’s “the feeling upon first meeting someone that you will inevitably fall in love with them”.

The Japanese phrase is increasingly used by young people today, particularly those brought up on shoujo manga – comics aimed at teen females. But it also had a particular meaning for older people. “For my grandma’s generation, relationships were pretty serious. Relationships meant marriage,” says dancer Ayaka Kamei. “They were not really allowed to decide who they wanted to be with forever, so I think that little feeling of Koi No Yokan became really important.”

Watch the video to find out more about Koi No Yokan.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.