How to Say Dates and Times in Japanese

When making plans, appointments, and travel arrangements in Japanese-speaking countries, you need to be able to state dates and other calendar terms in Japanese. Understanding the days of the week, the months of the year, and how to tell time in Japanese can help you to avoid confusion.

Days of the week

The Japanese names for the days of the week all end with yōbi.

Japanese Pronunciation English
getsuyôbi geh-tsoo-yooo-bee Monday
kayôbi kah-yooo-bee Tuesday
suiyôbi soo-ee-yooo-bee Wednesday
mokuyôbi moh-coo-yooo-bee Thursday
kinyôbi keen-yooo-bee Friday
doyôbi doh-yooo-bee Saturday
nichiyôbi nee-chee-yooo-bee Sunday

Other phrases used to indicate the days of the week include:

kyō (kyohh) (today)
kinō (kee-nohh) (yesterday)
ashita (ah-shee-tah) (tomorrow)

In Japanese, the words for the months of the year are based on the numbers 1–12 and end in the Japanese word for month: gatsu.

ichi-gatsu (ee-chee-gah-tsoo) (January)
ni-gatsu (nee-gah-tsoo) (February)
san-gatsu (sahn-gah-tsoo) (March)
shi-gatsu (shee-gah-tsoo) (April)
go-gatsu (goh-gah-tsoo) (May)
roku-gatsu (roh-coo-gah-tsoo) (June)
shichi-gatsu (shee-chee-gah-tsoo) (July)
hachi-gatsu (hah-chee-gah-tsoo) (August)
ku-gatsu (coo-gah-tsoo) (September)
jū-gatsu (juuu-gah-tsoo) (October)
jūichi-gatsu (juuu-ee-chee-gah-tsoo) (November)
jūni-gatsu (juuu-ni-gah-tsoo) (December)

Days of the month

When referring to the days of the month in Japanese, you'll see that they are full of irregularities:

Days of the Month
Tsuitachi the first
Futsuka the second
Mikka the third
Yokka the fourth
Itsuka the fifth
Muika the sixth
Nanoka the seventh
yôka the eighth
Kokonoka the ninth
tôka the tenth
jûichi-nichi the 11th
jûni-nichi the 12th
jûsan-nichi the 13th
jûyokka the 14th
jûgo-nichi the 15th
jûroku-nichi the 16th
jûshichi-nichi the 17th
jûhachi-nichi the 18th
jûku-nichi the 19th
hatsuka the 20th
nijûichi-nichi the 21st
nijûni-nichi the 22nd
nijûsan-nichi the 23rd
nijûyokka the 24th
nijûgo-nichi the 25th
nijûroku-nichi the 26th
nijûshichi-nichi the 27th
nijûhachi-nichi the 28th
nijûku-nichi the 29th
sanjû-nichi the 30th
sanjûichi-nichi the 31st

You can use the following phrases as a guide when talking about dates in Japanese:

  • Kyō wa nan-nichi desu ka. (What is today's date?)

  • Kyō wa jūroku-nichi desu. (Today is the 16th.)

  • Kyō wa nanyōbi desu ka. (What day is it today?)

  • Getsuyōbi desu. (It's Monday.)

Telling time

The time of day can be described in general terms or specific times. The following words can be used to describe the general time of day:

asa (ah-sah) (morning)
hiru (hee-roo) (noon)
gogo (goh-goh) (afternoon)
ban (bahn) (evening)
yoru (yoh-roo) (night)

When expressing time between the hours, use these terms to break things down:

ji (o'clock)
jikan (hour)
gozen (a.m.)
gogo (p.m.)
yíkèzhōng (quarter hour)
fun (minute)
byō (second)
han (half)

Japanese commonly uses the 24-hour clock for all official listings, such as plane and train schedules. For every hour after 12 noon, just add an hour. So 2:15 p.m. is 14:15 (jūyo-ji jūgo-fun).

When you want to know a specific time of day, you can ask Ima nan-ji desu ka. (What time is it now?) The following are some examples of specific times.

On the Clock
ichi-ji 1 o'clock
ni-ji 2 o'clock
san-ji 3 o'clock
yo-ji 4 o'clock
go-ji 5 o'clock
roku-ji 6 o'clock
shichi-ji 7 o'clock
hachi-ji 8 o'clock
ku-ji 9 o'clock
jû-ji 10 o'clock
jûichi-ji 11 o'clock
jûni-ji 12 o'clock
shichi-ji jûgo-fun 7:15
jûichi-ji go-fun mae 10:55 (5 minutes to 11)
gozen jûichi-ji 11 a.m.

You can use the following phrases as a guide when talking about time in Japanese:

  • Jūichi-ji jūgo-fun desu. (It's 11:15.)

  • Nan-ji kara desu ka. (From what time?)

  • Nan-ji made desu ka. (Until what time?)

  • Ni-ji kara go-ji made desu. (It's from 2 to 5.)

  • Nan-ji ni demasu ka. (At what time are you leaving?)

  • San-ji ni demasu. (I'll leave at 3.)

  • Nan-jikan kakarimasu ka. (How many hours does it take?)

  • Ni-jikan kakarimasu. (It takes two hours.)

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