Japanese Lesson 26 – Expression of time and date in Japanese

Let’s learn the expression of time and date in Japanese.

Basically, they are expressed as the combination of a numerical value and a unit name like the counting ways you have already learned.

The following is the list of unit names of time and date.

The expression of time


It is expressed by adding “ji” after a numerical value.
In most cases, “4” is read as “yon” and “7” is read as “nana”.
But when “ji” is used, “4” is read as “yo” and “7” is read as “shichi”.
“24:00” is read as “nijuuyo-ji”.

“Gozen” and “gogo” are always put before the the expression of time.

8 a.m. = gozen hachi-ji
4 p.m. = gogo yo-ji

When you can understand either a.m. or p.m. in the conversation, “gozen” and “gogo” are often omitted.

“0:00” in the midnight is “gozen rei-ji”.
“12:00” at noon is read as “juuni-ji”, “gogo rei-ji” or “shoogo”.


It is expressed by adding “fun” after a numerical value.
But to pronounce easily, the consonant is changed or the words are connected in some numbers.
They are in the yellow parts of below table.

About 30 minutes, a short word “han” is often used.
5 : 48 = go-ji yonjuu-hachi-fun
7 : 10 = shichi-ji juppun
10 : 30 p.m. = gogo juu-ji sanjuppun / gogo juu-ji han


It is expressed by adding “byoo” after a numerical value.

3′ 15″ = sanpun juugo-byoo

The expression of date


In English, a year is read as the combination of 2-digit numbers.
But in Japanese, it is read directly and “nen” is added after that.
Only last “4” is read as not “yon” but “yo”.

2015 = twenty fifteen (Eng.) / nisen-juugo nen (Jap.)
1964 = nineteen sixty-four (Eng.) / sen-kyuuhyaku-rokujuu-yo nen (Jap.)

By the way, another year is used in Japan.
It is the year with “Japanese era name”.

Current Emperor of Japan is Akihito.
He acceded the throne in 1989 and “Heisei” is given as the new Japanese era name by the Japanese government at that time.
The first year is called “gan-nen” and the second year is “2-nen” (ni-nen), and the third year is “3-nen” (san-nen).
The year of 2015 is the 27th year of Heisei, so it is called “Heisei 27(nijuu-nana) nen”.
This year name is often used, so please know this.

The recent era names are the following.

Meiji = 1868 – 1912
Taishoo = 1912 – 1925
Shoowa = 1925 – 1989
Heisei = 1989 –

This Japanese era name was changed when the Emperor died.
So it is usually changed in mid-year.
In 1989, Shoowa Emperor died on January 7th.
1989 started as Shoowa 64-nen on January 1st, but it became Heisei gan-nen from January 8th.


In many western languages, the name from various classical origin is given to each name of month.
But in Japanese, it is expressed by adding “gatsu” after a numerical value.

For “4”, “7” and “9”, “shi”, “shichi”, “ku” are used.


Basically, it is expressed by adding “nichi” after a numerical value.
But the days from 1 to 10 and 20 are read by using the name in ancient times.
At that time, “nichi” isn’t used but “ka” is used.

Days of the week


Both “yoobi” and “yoo” are OK.
The meaning of the head part is similar to the name in English.
They are the elements of the world that the ancient people had believed.

nichi = sun / getsu = moon / ka = fire / sui = water
moku = tree / kin = metal / do = soil

Of course, we don’t use them thinking above meaning.
Please learn them without thinking anything.

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