Date and Time

    • Suffix
    To give the date, you use 〜年 (year), 〜月 (month), 〜日 (day), and 〜曜日 (day of the week). To tell time, you use 〜時 (hour), 〜分 (minute), and 〜秒 (second).

    Table of Contents

    The Basics

    Talking about the date and time in Japanese is pretty simple! Apart from knowing how to count in Japanese, you just need to know the right words for each component and to follow the format. This page will talk about all the necessary components one by one, so let's get started.

    Prerequisites: Before diving in, make sure you’re familiar with the basics of counting and counters in Japanese. If you need a refresher (or an introduction), feel free to check out this page!


    The most typical date format in Japan is "Year Month Day (Weekday)," in which each number is followed by the respective Japanese characters 年 (year), 月 (month), 日 (day), and 曜日 (day of the week). So for example, Friday, February 4, 2022 will be written as 2022年2月4日金曜日 in Japanese. It can also be abbreviated, like '22/02/04(金)or 22.2.4(金), but the order of the format remains the same.

    It might be helpful to note here that in Japan, the order of things like this usually starts with more general info, then gets narrowed down to more specific info. With names, for example, the family name comes first, followed by the given name. Similarly, addresses in Japan start with the postal code, followed by the prefecture, city, street number, and finally building. You can think of the date as following the same pattern!

    Now, let's take a look at each element and discuss how to use it.

    年 for "Year"

    To talk about "calendar years," you use ねん. Take a look at the chart below to make sure you know how to read each number:

    Year (numeral) Japanese (kanji) Reading
    1 一年 いちねん
    2 二年 にねん
    3 三年 さんねん
    4 四年 よねん
    5 五年 ごねん
    6 六年 ろくねん
    7 七年 ななねん / (しちねん)
    8 八年 はちねん
    9 九年 きゅうねん /(くねん)
    10 十年 じゅうねん
    11 十一年 じゅういちねん
    12 十二年 じゅうにねん
    100 百年 ひゃくねん
    1,000 千年 せんねん
    2,000 二千年 にせんねん
    What year 何年 なんねん

    Although the above table lists kanji writing, it's very common to use numerals with dates in horizontal writing. In vertical writing, which is how Japanese books are traditionally written, kanji is typically employed.

    Even though the majority of people in Japan use — or at the very least are familiar with — the Western calendar ( 西暦せいれき), the traditional imperial calendar is still employed, especially for official documents. When using the imperial calendar, the name of the era comes before the year. For example, the year 2011年 is 平成へいせい23年 on the imperial calendar because it's the 23rd year of the Heisei era. 2011年4月1日金曜日 can also be written as 平成へいせい23年4月1日金曜日. The name of the era may be abbreviated to its first single character, as in 平23/04/01, or its initial letter in romaji (the roman alphabet), as in H23.04.01.

    If you want to convert Western calendar years to Japanese imperial calendar years, websites like this one may come in handy!

    月 for "Month"

    To talk about "calendar months," you use がつ. Take a look at the chart below to make sure you know how to read each number:

    Japanese Reading English
    一月 / 1月 いちがつ January
    二月 / 2月 にがつ February
    三月 / 3月 さんがつ March
    四月 / 4月 しがつ April
    五月 / 5月 ごがつ May
    六月 / 6月 ろくがつ June
    七月 / 7月 しちがつ / (なながつ) July
    八月 / 8月 はちがつ August
    九月 / 9月 くがつ September
    十月 / 10月 じゅうがつ October
    十一月 / 11月 じゅういちがつ November
    十二月 / 12月 じゅうにがつ December
    何月 なんがつ Which month(s)?

    It's pretty straightforward, right? Bear in mind this is all about calendar months, not about counting months. To count months, as in "I've been in Japan for two months," things are a bit different — you'll have to use a counter like 〜ヶ月 or 〜月. If you aren't familiar with those, check out the counter 月 page!

    日 for "Date"

    To talk about "calendar days," you use にち. Take a look at the chart below to make sure you know how to read each number:

    Numeral Japanese Reading English
    1 一日 ついたち / (いっぴ) 1st
    2 二日 ふつか 2nd
    3 三日 みっか 3rd
    4 四日 よっか 4th
    5 五日 いつか 5th
    6 六日 むいか 6th
    7 七日 なのか 7th
    8 八日 ようか 8th
    9 九日 ここのか 9th
    10 十日 とおか 10th
    11 十一日 じゅういちにち 11th
    12 十二日 じゅうににち 12th
    13 十三日 じゅうさんにち 13th
    14 十四日 じゅうよっか 14th
    15 十五日 じゅうごにち 15th
    16 十六日 じゅうろくにち 16th
    17 十七日 じゅうしちにち / (じゅうななにち) 17th
    18 十八日 じゅうはちにち 18th
    19 十九日 じゅうくにち 19th
    20 二十日 はつか 20th
    21 二十一日 にじゅういちにち 21st
    22 二十二日 にじゅうににち 22nd
    23 二十三日 にじゅうさんにち 23rd
    24 二十四日 にじゅうよっか 24th
    25 二十五日 にじゅうごにち 25th
    26 二十六日 にじゅうろくにち 26th
    27 二十七日 にじゅうしちにち / (にじゅうななにち) 27th
    28 二十八日 にじゅうはちにち 28th
    29 二十九日 にじゅうくにち 29th
    30 三十日 さんじゅうにち 30th
    31 三十一日 さんじゅういちにち 31st
    Which day 何日 なんにち Which day

    As you can see in the table, 日 can be read as either か (wago) or にち (kango). Readings for numbers can also be a mixture of wago and kango, so watch out! There aren't any tricks to remember them quickly, but continuous practice using a Spaced Repetition System like WaniKani will probably help you get used to them!

    曜日 for "Days of The Week"

    To talk about "days of the week," you use 曜日ようび. For days of the week, you don't use numerals but kanji characters, each of which indicates an element of nature. Take a look at the chart below to make sure you know how to read each character:

    Element of Nature Japanese Pronunciation English
    Sun (Yang) 日曜(日) にちよう(び) Sunday
    Moon (Yin) 月曜(日) げつよう(び) Monday
    Fire 火曜(日) かよう(び) Tuesday
    Water 水曜(日) すいよう(び) Wednesday
    Wood 木曜(日) もくよう(び) Thursday
    Gold (Metal) 金曜(日) きんよう(び) Friday
    Earth 土曜(日) どよう(び) Saturday
    N/A 何曜(日) なんよう(び) Which day of the week?

    So, why does each kanji character indicate an element of nature? It's because the naming concept was developed by fusing the yin and yang of Chinese philosophy with the five Taoist elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water). Pretty cool, huh?

    Note that 曜日 is often abbreviated to 曜 both in speaking and writing, as in 日曜 or 月曜. The 曜日 part can also often be completely omitted as an abbreviated form in writing, but in that case, the first single character is often put in parentheses, as in (日) or (月).


    Okay, let's move on to learning how to discuss time in Japanese. First, let's talk about the general stuff, and then check out each element.

    When writing a specific time in Japanese, 時 (o'clock) and 分 (minute) are added after the numerals. So, for example, 7:15 is written 七時十五分, though it's typical to simply write 7:15 in Japanese as well. If you want, you can also add 秒 (seconds) after the minute part, like 七時十五分二十三秒.

    In Japan, both the 12-hour and 24-hour formats are common. When using the 12-hour format, 後前ごぜん (a.m.) or 午後ごご (p.m.) can be added before the time, as in 後前ごぜん7時15分 (7:15 a.m.) or 午後ごご7時15分 (7:15 p.m.) for clarification. AM/PM signs are also used, however, and unlike 後前ごぜん and 午後ごご, AM and PM can be put either before or after the time (AM7:15 or 7:15PM).

    For the 24-hour format, it's particularly employed in schedules for public transit to prevent people from mixing up AM and PM. Interestingly, times beyond midnight after the 24-hour mark can also be counted continuously sometimes. This often occurs when the activity from before midnight extends past midnight, indicating that your day has kept on extending past the 24-hour threshold. For instance, a radio program that starts at 1:00 and ends at 2:00 in the morning might say it starts at 25:00 and ends at 26:00 on their time table.

    Now you've got the basic idea, let's take a look at each element. We've already talked about the basic ways to use them, so the focus here will be mostly on their readings.

    時 for "O'clock"

    To give the hour reading on a clock ("o'clock") you use . Take a look at the chart below to make sure you know how to read each number:

    Numeral Japanese Reading English
    1 一時 いちじ 1:00 a.m.
    2 二時 にじ 2:00 a.m.
    3 三時 さんじ 3:00 a.m.
    4 四時 よじ 4:00 a.m.
    5 五時 ごじ 5:00 a.m.
    6 六時 ろくじ 6:00 a.m.
    7 七時 しちじ / (ななじ) 7:00 a.m.
    8 八時 はちじ 8:00 a.m.
    9 九時 くじ 9:00 a.m.
    10 十時 じゅうじ 10:00 a.m.
    11 十一時 じゅういちじ 11:00 a.m.
    12 十二時 じゅうにじ 12:00 p.m.
    13 十三時 じゅうさんじ 13:00 (1:00 p.m.)
    14 十四時 じゅうよじ 14:00 (2:00 p.m.)
    15 十五時 じゅうごじ 15:00 (3:00 p.m.)
    16 十六時 じゅうろくじ 16:00 (4:00 p.m.)
    17 十七時 じゅうしちじ / (じゅうななじ) 17:00 (5:00 p.m.)
    18 十八時 じゅうはちじ 18:00 (6:00 p.m.)
    19 十九時 じゅうくじ 19:00 (7:00 p.m.)
    20 二十時 にじゅうじ 20:00 (8:00 p.m.)
    21 二十一時 にじゅういちじ 21:00 (9:00 p.m.)
    22 二十二時 にじゅうにじ 22:00 (10:00 p.m.)
    23 二十三時 にじゅうさんじ 23:00 (11:00 p.m.)
    24 二十四時 にじゅうよじ 24:00 (12:00 a.m.)
    0 零時 れいじ 0:00 (12:00 a.m./p.m.)
    What time 何時 なんじ What time

    Note numeral 0 is also used to talk about 12 a.m. and even 12 p.m., especially by Japanese broadcasting and newspapers. In this case, the midnight version is 午前零時, also written as 午前0時, AM 0:00, or 0:00 AM, and the noon version is 午後零時, also written as 午後0時, PM 0:00, or 0:00 PM. Also keep in mind that these readings are for specifying the time of day, not for counting hours or saying how much time something takes. To count or talk about the number of hours, you'll have to use 〜時間 instead.

    分 for "Minute"

    To talk about the "minute" reading on a clock, you use ふん. Take a look at the chart below to make sure you know how to read each number:

    Numeral Japanese Reading
    1 一分 いっぷん
    2 二分 にふん
    3 三分 さんぷん / (さんふん)
    4 四分 よんぷん / (よんふん)
    5 五分 ごふん
    6 六分 ろっぷん
    7 七分 ななふん / (しちふん)
    8 八分 はっぷん / (はちふん)
    9 九分 きゅうふん
    10 十分 じゅっぷん / (じっぷん)
    11 十一分 じゅういっぷん
    12 十二分 じゅうにふん
    What minute 何分 なんぷん / (なんふん)

    Notice how the ふ of ふん often changes to a ぷ? This is called rendaku, also known as "sequential voicing" in English. If you aren't familiar with it, here is our article about rendaku!

    Note that to indicate 30 minutes past the hour, you can also use the word . So 9:30 can be written either as 九時三十分 or 九時半, along with the numeral versions.

    秒 for "Second"

    To talk about the "second" reading on a clock, you use びょう. Take a look at the chart below to make sure you know how to read each number:

    Numeral Japanese Reading
    1 一秒 いちびょう
    2 二秒 にびょう
    3 三秒 さんびょう
    4 四秒 よんびょう
    5 五秒 ごびょう
    6 六秒 ろくびょう
    7 七秒 ななびょう
    8 八秒 はちびょう
    9 九秒 きゅうびょう
    10 十秒 じゅうびょう
    11 十一秒 じゅういちびょう
    12 十二秒 じゅうにびょう
    What second 何秒 なんびょう

    Thankfully, the readings for 〜秒 are very straightforward. You can just use the kango numbers from 1 to 60 and stick 秒 after them.

    Beyond The Basics

    Commonly Paired Suffixes

    We've learned how to talk about the date and time in pretty precise terms. Now you should have no trouble using Japanese to schedule your next dentist appointment for exactly 4:47 p.m. on a Wednesday two months from now. But not all time-related discussions are so clear-cut. What if you want to give a rough estimate instead of an exact time? Read on to find out!

    〜くらい and 〜頃 for "Around 〜"

    To give an approximation of the date and time, the suffixes くらい and ころ are commonly used. Although they both can be used in casual and formal settings, くらい is more casual and ころ is a bit stiffer.

    When speaking casually, more people would probably go with くらい:

    • 七時くらいにそっちに行くね。
    • I'll be there around seven.

    On the other hand, when talking to your client in a more formal manner, ころ may come into play more often, as it can add some rigidity to your speech.

    • 七時にそちらに伺います。
    • I'll be there around seven.

    Note both くらい and ころ typically get rendaku-ed and become ぐらい or ごろ.

    〜くらい and 〜頃 with and without Particle に

    One heads up is that くらい can be used to indicate not only approximate points in time but also approximate durations, whereas ころ only denotes approximate points in time. In other words, when the expression can indicate both the point in time and duration, you must have the pinpointer particle に with くらい to show you're talking about the point in time.

    Let's imagine, for example, that you text your friend the following message at roughly 2 p.m. When discussing the time implied (because it's within an hour from now or because it was mentioned earlier), it's common to only specify the minute portion of the time in Japanese. In this case, you can still understand it's about a point in time if the particle に is there:

    • 四十五分くらいバスに乗るね!
    • I'll get on the bus at around 2:45 p.m.

    But if the に is taken out, the meaning of the sentence will indicate the duration instead:

    • 四十五分くらいバスに乗るね!
    • I'll be on the bus for around 45 minutes.

    On the other hand, ころ's meaning remains the same with or without に because it never denotes an approximate duration of time.

    • 四十五分頃()バスに乗るね!
    • I'll get on the bus at around 2:45 p.m.

    Try to master this くらい/ ころ distinction so your friends aren’t confused about your expected arrival time!

    〜前 for "Shortly Before…"

    To talk about a point in time before a certain time, you can use the word 前 (front/before).

    When 前 is attached to a duration of time, it indicates "…ago" or "…earlier," as in:

    • 二時間にバス停に来た。
    • I came to the bus stop two hours [agoearlier].

    But 前 can also mean "shortly before" when it's directly attached to a given point in time, like in the following:

    • 二時にバス停に来た。
    • I came to the bus stop shortly before two o'clock.

    In this case, 前 indicates an unspecified period just before the given time.

    〜過ぎ for "Shortly After…"

    Although is usually paired with 後, to say something is "shortly after" a certain time, you use 〜 ぎ, which is the stem form of the verb ぎる (to pass), as in:

    • 二時過ぎにバスが来た。
    • The bus came shortly after two o'clock.

    Note that it's also common to write the kanji in kana, as in 二時すぎ.

    後 still has its uses though! We can attach it to a duration of time, indicating "…later," as in:

    • 二時間にバスが来た。
    • The bus came two hours later.

    Knowing how to tell time exactly is an important basic skill in language. But most discussions about time aren’t super exact, so these expressions will definitely come in handy too!