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#1 Amazing Guide To Japanese Date And Time

March 22, 2022

In the previous post, we learned the Japanese numbers and counting system and now you may be wondering how to tell date and time in the Japanese language. This is exactly what we are going to find out today: Japanese date and time! But if you don't know Japanese numbers yet, it would be better if you go through our previous post about Japanese numerals!

The structure of this post goes like this: days of the week, months, and years in the Japanese language. After we learn this related vocabulary, I will give you the sentence pattern and examples of telling the date. Once we dug into telling the date, we will go through telling the time in Japanese.

Alright, if you are ready, let's get started!

 

Japanese Date And Time: Days Of The Week

japanese date and time

I think it is kind of easy to memorize the days of the week since they all end with yōbi. We also added some words at the end that could be useful, especially when telling the dates in a form of year/month/days of the week.

KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
月曜日げつようびgetsu-yôbMonday
火曜日かようびka-yôbiTuesday
水曜日すいようびsui-yôbiWednesday
木曜日もくようびmoku-yôbiThursday
金曜日きんようびkin-yôbiFriday
土曜日どようびdo-yôbiSaturday
日曜日にちようびnichi-yôbiSunday
今日きょうkyōtoday
昨日きのうkinōyesterday
明日あすasutomorrow
Example:

今日は何曜日ですか? Kyō wa nanyōbi desu ka? (What day is it today?)

月曜日です。Getsuyōbi desu. (It's Monday.)

 

Japanese Months

In Japanese, 月 (gatsu) means month. I can say that Japanese people used a basic system to name months. The rule is simple: name them with numbers in order until 12. So, first, write the number corresponding to that specific month, then add the kanji 月 gatsu. Let me give an example for January.

January is the first month of the year, so it is 1月 (いち がつ) ichi-gatsu. Now, let's have a look at all of them here:

KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
1月いち がつichi-gatsuJanuary
2月にがつni-gatsuFebruary
3月さんがつsan-gatsuMarch
4月しがつshi-gatsuApril
5月ごがつgo-gatsuMay
6月ろくがつroku-gatsuJune
7月しちがつshichi-gatsuJuly
8月はちがつhachi-gatsuAugust
9月くがつku-gatsuSeptember
10月じゅうがつjû-gatsuOctober
11月じゅういちがつjûichi-gatsuNovember
12月じゅうにがつjûni-gatsuDecember

 

Days Of The Month In Japanese

Unfortunately, I can't say that there is a specific order in this list, yet most of them end with nichi. Memorizing these days of the month will make you more fluent when identifying a specific date in the Japanese language.

  • 1日 tsuitachi 1st
  • 2日 futsuka 2nd
  • 3日 mikka 3rd
  • 4日 yokka 4th
  • 5日 itsuka 5th
  • 6日 muika 6th
  • 7日 nanoka 7th
  • 8日 yôka 8th
  • 9日 kokonoka 9th
  • 10日 tôka 10th
  • 11日 jûichi-nichi 11th
  • 12日 jûni-nichi 12th
  • 13日 jûsan-nichi 13th
  • 14日 jûyokka 14th
  • 15日 jûgo-nichi 15th
  • 16日 jûroku-nichi 16th
  • 17日 jûshichi-nichi 17th
  • 18日 jûhachi-nichi 18th
  • 19日 jûku-nichi 19th
  • 20日 hatsuka 20th
  • 21日 nijûichi-nichi 21st
  • 22日 nijûni-nichi 22nd
  • 23日 nijûsan'-nichi 23rd
  • 24日 nijûyokka 24th
  • 25日 nijûgo-nichi 25th
  • 26日 nijûroku-nichi 26th
  • 27日 nijûshichi-nichi 27th
  • 28日 nijûhichi-nichi 28th
  • 29日 nijûku-nichi 29th
  • 30日 sanjû-nichi 30th
  • 31日 sanjûichi-nichi 31st
Example:

今日は何日ですか? Kyō wa nan-nichi desu ka? (What is today's date?)

今日は16日です。Kyō wa jūroku-nichi desu. (Today is the 16th.)

 

Years In Japanese

Japan has a different system for counting the years. Basically, the year starts over again from 1 at the beginning of each new reign along with the name of the era. For example, the 「平成」 era began in 1989, so, the year 2009 would be 平成21年.

If you live in Japan, it is better to know the year based on the current era. Below are the eras going back about 100 years. There are also online converters or charts about years in the Japanese calendar. Here is the list of the last 5 years with eras in Japanese.

  • 2018 平成30年 year 30 of the Heisei era
  • 2019 平成31年 year 31 of the Heisei era (From January to April)
  • 2019 令和1年 year 1 of the Reiwa era (From May to December)
  • 2020 令和2年 year 2 of the Reiwa era
  • 2021 令和3年 year 3 of the Reiwa era
  • 2022 令和4年 year 4 of the Reiwa era

 

Japanese Dates

The date format in Japanese is year/month/day. Japanese words meaning "year, month, and day" are placed after the numbers. The weekday is usually abbreviated to a single character, like instead of 水曜日 which means Wednesday, but may also be written in full with parenthesis. Here are all the possible date formats you may encounter in the Japanese language.

To express dates in written form you must use specific counters, so here are the Japanese counters for the day, month, and year.

  • 年 ねん nen – year counter
  • 月 がつ gatsu – month counter
  • 日 にち nichi – day counter
Example:
  • 2009年12月24日 = 2009/12/24
  • 2010年4月1日(木曜日)= Thursday, April 1st, 2010
  • 昭和56年11月30日 = 1981/11/30

 

Japanese Calendar

In Japan, the commonly used calendar is the Japanese imperial calendar as well as the Gregorian calendar.

The Japanese imperial calendar is the one we talked about above. Basically, it is a calendar unique to Japan that is based on the reign of each emperor. The year starts over from 1 at the beginning of each new reign along with the name of the era. The new era begins when the current emperor accedes to the throne and if you are wondering, the current era is 令和 Reiwa which began in 2019.

The Gregorian calendar, on the other hand, is the calendar used by most of the world and it is based on a solar dating system.

 

How To Tell Time In Japanese?

Japanese commonly uses the 24-hour clock for all official listings, such as plane and train schedules. In order to adapt to the 24-hour system, you should keep on counting after 12 for every hour afternoon on the clock. Like, 1 pm would be 13, 2 pm is 14, and so on. Here are the Japanese hours up to 12.

KanjiRomajiMeaning
1時ichi-ji1 o'clock
2時ni-ji2 o'clock
3時san-ji3 o'clock
4時yo-ji4 o'clock
5時go-ji5 o'clock
6時roku-ji6 o'clock
7時shichi-ji7 o'clock
8時hachi-ji8 o'clock
9時ku-ji9 o'clock
10時jû-ji10 o'clock
11時jûichi-ji11 o'clock
12時jûni-ji12 o'clock
7時15分shichi-ji jûgo-fun7:15
午前11時gozen jûichi-ji11 a.m.

To express the time in Japanese, again, we need counters. Here are the counters that you can use when telling the time.

  • 時 じ ji – hour counter
  • 分 ふん fun – minute counter
  • 午前 ごぜん gozen – AM
  • 午後 ごご gogo – PM
  • 半 はん han – half
Example:

今何時ですか?Ima nan-ji desu ka? (What time is it?)

11時15分ですJūichi-ji jūgo-fun desu. (It's 11:15.)

 

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