5.5. The months and the days


5.5.1. The months


Japanese lost the names of months hundreds of years ago, and now months are called with sequential numbers. After a number, just say the word (ga)(tu) "gatu", which means month.

EnglishJapanese
WordMeaning
January
(i)(ti)(ga)(tu)
itigatu
The first month
February
(ni)(ga)(tu)
nigatu
The second month
March
(sa)(n)(ga)(tu)
sangatu
The third month
April
(si)(ga)(tu)
sigatu
The fourth month
May
(go)(ga)(tu)
gogatu
The fifth month
June
(ro)(ku)(ga)(tu)
rokugatu
The sixth month
July
(si)(ti)(ga)(tu)
sitigatu
The seventh month
August
(ha)(ti)(ga)(tu)
hatigatu
The eighth month
September
(ku)(ga)(tu)
kugatu
The ninth month
October
(zi)(small yu)(u)(ga)(tu)
zyûgatu
The tenth month
November
(zi)(small yu)(u)(i)(ti)(ga)(tu)
zyûitigatu
The eleventh month
December
(zi)(small yu)(u)(ni)(ga)(tu)
zyûnigatu
The twelfth month

For the names of the months, the common digit names of 4, 7, and 9 are not used. ((yo)(n)(ga)(tu) "yongatu", (na)(na)(ga)(tu) "nanagatu", and (ki)(small yu)(u)(ga)(tu) "kyûgatu" are not used.)


5.5.2. The ancient names of the months


Here is a list of the ancient names of the months. Just skip this paragraph if you are not interested.

EnglishJapanese
WordMeaning
January
(mu)(tu)(ki)
mutuki
The month of friendship
February
(ki)(sa)(ra)(gi)
kisaragi
The month of the rebirth of plants
March
(ya)(yo)(i)
yayoi
The month of growing plants
April
(u)(du)(ki)
uzuki
The month of the rabbit, which is the fourth animal of the Chinese zodiac.
May
(sa)(tu)(ki)
satuki
The month of rice sprouts
June
(mi)(na)(du)(ki)
minazuki
The month of water
July
(hu)(mi)(du)(ki)
humizuki
The month of letters
August
(ha)(du)(ki)
hazuki
The month of leaves
September
(na)(ga)(tu)(ki)
nagatuki
The month of long nights
October
(ka)(n)(na)(du)(ki)
kannazuki
The month of gods
November
(si)(mo)(tu)(ki)
simotuki
The month of frost
December
(si)(wa)(su)
siwasu
The month of busy people


5.5.3. The days of the week


The days of the week are named after the sun, the moon, and planets. They are translations of the days of the week in European languages such as Latin. Sunday is the first day of the week in Japan.

EnglishJapanese
WordMeaning
Sunday
(ni)(ti)(yo)(u)(bi)
nitibi
The day of the sun ((ta)(i)(yo)(u) "taiyô")
Monday
(ge)(tu)(yo)(u)(bi)
getubi
The day of the moon ((tu)(ki) "tuki")
Tuesday
(ka)(yo)(u)(bi)
kabi
The day of Mars ((ka)(se)(i) "kasei")
Wednesday
(su)(i)(yo)(u)(bi)
suibi
The day of Mercury ((su)(i)(se)(i) "suisei")
Thursday
(mo)(ku)(yo)(u)(bi)
mokubi
The day of Jupiter ((mo)(ku)(se)(i) "mokusei")
Friday
(ki)(n)(yo)(u)(bi)
kin'bi
The day of Venus ((ki)(n)(se)(i) "kinsei")
Saturday
(do)(yo)(u)(bi)
dobi
The day of Saturn ((do)(se)(i) "dosei")

The suffix (yo)(u)(bi) "yôbi" in the days of the week means shine + day. The suffix (se)(i) "sei" in the planets' names means star. The prefixes (ni)(ti) "nichi" and (ge)(tu) "getu" of Sunday and Monday come from different words that mean the sun and the moon respectively.


5.5.4. The seasons


The Japanese word for a season is (ki)(se)(tu) "kisetu". There are four season names in Japan.

EnglishJapaneseMonths
Spring
(ha)(ru)
haru
March, April, May
Summer
(na)(tu)
natu
June, July, August
Autumn
(a)(ki)
aki
September, October, November
Winter
(hu)(yu)
huyu
December, January, February

Actually Japan also has the following season from the mid of June to the mid of July, in which season there is much more rain than any other season:

(tu)(yu)
LH
tuyu

It is called the rainy season or just tsuyu in English.


5.5.5. The days of the month


To my regret, the names of the days of the month in Japanese are not as easy as the names of the months, because they preserve ancient names.

The days 11th through 31st except the 14th, 20th, and 24th have straighforward names. Their names are the combination of the number and word (ni)(ti) "niti", which means a day. For example, the 15th day is called (zi)(small yu)(u)(go)(ni)(ti) "zyûgoniti". The word (ni)(ti) sometimes becomes (n)(ti) "nti" in colloquial Japanese.

For other days, please look at the table below. Notice that they are similar to the traditional number names. The suffix (ka) "ka" (or possibly (u)(ka) "uka") was a counter for days in ancient Japanese. Using (ni)(ti) for the days listed below is understandable, so don't hesitate to use (ni)(ti) when you can't remember their real names.

EnglishJapanese
WordMeaning
1
(tu)(i)(ta)(ti)
tuitati
The beginning of the month.
It came from (tu)(ki) "tuki" (month, moon) + (ta)(tu) "tatu" (to stand up)
2
(hu)(tu)(ka)
hutuka
The second day
3
(mi)(small tu)(ka)
mikka
The third day
4
(yo)(small tu)(ka)
yokka
The fourth day
5
(i)(tu)(ka)
ituka
The fifth day
6
(mu)(i)(ka)
muika
The sixth day
7
(na)(no)(ka)
nanoka
The seventh day
8
(yo)(u)(ka)
ka
The eighth day
9
(ko)(ko)(no)(ka)
kokonoka
The ninth day
10
(to)(o)(ka)
ka
The tenth day
14
(zi)(small yu)(u)(yo)(small tu)(ka)
zyûyokka
The fourteenth day
10
(zi)(small yu)(u)
+ 4th day
(yo)(small tu)(ka)
20
(ha)(tu)(ka)
hatuka
The twentieth day
24
(ni)(zi)(small yu)(u)(yo)(small tu)(ka)
nizyûyokka
The twenty-fourth day
20
(ni)(zi)(small yu)(u)
+ 4th day
(yo)(small tu)(ka)
(others)
A day number +(ni)(ti)
niti
This is a suffix added to a number.


5.5.6. How to read date and time


In Japanese, it is necessary to say the biggest part first, then go down to smaller parts. This is because of the head-last rule of Japanese. This rule is applied not only for date but also for time and addresses.

Dates are read in the following order: a year, a month, a day of the month, a day of the week. To read a year, just add (ne)(n) "nen", which means a year, after the number.

Example: Monday, June 16th, 1997 is 1997 (ne)(n) 6 (ga)(tu) 16 (ni)(ti) (ge)(tu)(yo)(u)(bi) "sen kyûhyaku kyûzyû nananen rokugatu zyûrokuniti getubi". The Japanese style of abbreviation of the date is 1997/6/16 (year/month/day).

Please remember the American style and the European style are also different from each other.

American: day-of-week, month/day/year
European: day-of-week, day/month/year
Asian: year/month/day, day-of-week

To read time, add (zi) "zi" after hours, (hu)(n) "hun" after minutes, and (bi)(small yo)(u) "byô" after seconds. For instance, 11:29:07 is 11 (zi) 29 (hu)(n) 7 (bi)(small yo)(u) "zyûitizi nizyû kyûhun nanabyô".

When you say both date and time, say date first. Please remember the biggest part comes first in Japanese.


Further readings:

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