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, say the word がつ "gatu", which means month.
For the names of the months, the common digit names of 4, 7, and 9 are not used. (よんがつ "yongatu", なながつ "nanagatu", and きゅうがつ "kyûgatu" are not used.)
English Japanese Meaning January いちがつ
i ti ga tu
The first month February にがつ
ni ga tu
The second month March さんがつ
sa n ga tu
The third month April しがつ
si ga tu
The fourth month May ごがつ
go ga tu
The fifth month June ろくがつ
ro ku ga tu
The sixth month July しちがつ
si ti ga tu
The seventh month August はちがつ
ha ti ga tu
The eighth month September くがつ
ku ga tu
The ninth month October じゅうがつ
zyû ga tu
The tenth month November じゅういちがつ
zyû i ti ga tu
The eleventh month December じゅうにがつ
zyû ni ga tu
The twelfth month
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.
5.5.3. The days of the week
English Japanese Meaning January むつき
mu tu ki
The month of friendship February きさらぎ
ki sa ra gi
The month of the rebirth of plants March やよい
ya yo i
The month of growing plants April うづき
u zu ki
The month of the rabbit, which is the fourth animal of the Chinese zodiac. May さつき
sa tu ki
The month of rice sprouts June みなづき
mi na zu ki
The month of water July ふみづき
hu mi zu ki
The month of letters August はづき
ha zu ki
The month of leaves September ながづき
na ga zu ki
The month of long nights October かんなづき
ka n na zu ki
The month of gods November しもつき
si mo tu ki
The month of frost December しわす
si wa su
The month of busy people
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.
The suffix ようび "yôbi" in the days of the week means shine + day. The suffix せい "sei" in the planets' names means star. The prefixes にち "niti" and つき "getu" of Sunday and Monday come from different words that mean the sun and the moon respectively.
English Japanese Meaning Sunday にちようび
ni ti yô bi
The day of the sun (たいやう "taiyô") Monday げつようび
ge tu yô bi
The day of the moon (つき "tuki") Tuesday かようび
ka yô bi
The day of Mars (かせい "kasei") Wednesday すいようび
su i yô bi
The day of Mercury (すいせい "suisei") Thursday ほくようび
mo ku yô bi
The day of Jupiter (ほくせい "mokusei") Friday きんようび
ki n' yô bi
The day of Venus (きんせい "kinsei") Saturday どようび
do yô bi
The day of Saturn (どせい "dosei")
5.5.4. The seasons
The Japanese word for a season is きせつ "kisetu". There are four season names in Japan.
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:
English Japanese Months Spring はる
March, April, May Summer なつ
June, July, August Autumn あき
September, October, November Winter ふゆ
December, January, February
It is called the rainy season or just tsuyu in English.
つゆ L H tu yu
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 for the 14th, 20th, and 24th have straightforward names. Their names are the combination of the number and word にち "niti", which means a day. For example, the 15th day is called じゅごにち "zyûgoniti". The word にち sometimes becomes んち "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 か "ka" (or possibly うか "uka") was a counter for days in ancient Japanese. Using にち for the days listed below is understandable, so don't hesitate to use にち when you can't remember their real names.
5.5.6. How to read date and time
English Japanese Meaning 1 ついたち
tu i ta ti
The beginning of the month.
It came from つき) "tuki" (month, moon) + たつ "tatu" (to stand up)
hu tu ka
The second day 3 みっか
mi k ka
The third day 4 よっか
yo k ka
The fourth day 5 いつか
i tu ka
The fifth day 6 むいか
mu i ka
The sixth day 7 なのか
na no ka
The seventh day 8 ようか
The eighth day 9 ここのか
ko ko no ka
The ninth day 10 とうか
The tenth day 14 じゅうよっか
zyû yo k ka
The fourteenth day
10 + 4 day
じゅう + よっか
ha tu ka
The twentieth day
20 + 4 day
ni zyû yo k ka
The twenty-fourth day
20 + 4 day
にかじゅう + よっか
Others A day number + にち (ni ti)
ha tu ka
This is a suffix added to a number.
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 a 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, add ねん "nen", which means a year, after the number.
Example: Monday, June 16th, 1997 is 1997 ねん 6 づき 16 にち げつうび "sen kyûhyaku kyûzyû nananen rokugatu zyûrokuniti getuyôbi". 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 じ "zi" after hours, ふん "hun" after minutes, and びょう "byô" after seconds. For instance, 11:29:07 is 11 じ 29 ふん 7 びょう "zyûitizi nizyû kyûhun nanabyô".
When you say both date and time, say date first. Please remember the most significant part comes first in Japanese.