A day can be divided into the following 3 parts and there are 2 words commonly used for parts of a night.
- 朝（あさ）: from sun rise until around 9-10 am
- 昼（ひる）: from around 9-10 am until sunset (for appointments, etc., the term 日中 is more commonly used.)
- 夜（よる）: from sunset until sunrise
- 夕方（ゆうがた）: early evening, dusk
- 晩（ばん）: evening until bed time
- For other words for “night,” please see the bottom of this page.
For Today only
|(early) this evening
|(late) this evening
Other Colloquial Time related words
- ゆうべ or さくや: last night
- 毎朝（まいあさ）: every morning
- 毎日（まいにち）: every day
- 毎夕（まいゆう）: every evening
- 毎晩（まいばん）: every night
Division based on the clock
- 午前（ごぜん）: from midnight until noon
- 午前二時 = 2 am (Unlike “am” is placed after the number, 午前 is placed before the number)
- 午後（ごご）: from noon until midnight
- 午後六時四十五分 = 6:45 pm (Again, 午後 comes before the number.)
Most languages have words like “yesterday,” “today” and “tomorrow” but Japanese has a simple word for “the day before yesterday,” “the week after next week,” etc.
Learn these words.
|one before last
|the one after next
Previous or Next…
The words in the above table are based on “now.” But you may want to talk about “the day before my birthday” or “the week after the summer holiday,” etc. They you use まえの or つぎの respectively.
たんじょうびの まえの ひ or たんじょうびの ぜんじつ
the day before the birthday
なつやすみの つぎの しゅう
The week after the summer holiday
りょうしんは さんじゅうねんまえに けっこんしました。つぎの とし、わたしが うまれました。
My parents got married 30 years ago. The following year, I was born.
とし here means the year.
the days of the week
Let’s remember the name of the days of the week.
きょうは すいようびですから、あしたは もくようび です。
As today is Wednesday, tomorrow is Thursday.
きょうは なんようび ですか。
What day is it today?
なんようびに スーパーに いきますか。
On what day, do/will you go to the supermarket?
In Japanese you mention the biggest unit first and then move onto a smaller unit. So if you want to say a date in full, you need to say it in the order of yyyy年MM月DD日
Stating the Year
In English, the year 2021 is pronounced as “twenty twenty-one” but in Japanese a 4-digit dominical year is read as an ordinary number. So 2021 is にせんにじゅういち by the word year, 年（ねん）.
If you need help reading the four digits, please watch these videos.
Many official, domestic documents prefer the year to be written with the name of the imperial era. 2021 is the third year of the 令和 era, so it can be written 令和3年. 令和 can be shortened with the English letter “R.”
I will list the beginning and ending year of the last 5 eras.
- 令和 : 1 May 2019 – (ongoing)
- 平成： 7 Jan 1989 – 30 Apr 2019
- 昭和： 25 Dec 1926 – 6 Jan 1989
- 大正： 30 Jul 1912 – 24 Dec1926
- 明治： 8 Sep 1868 – 29 Jul 1912
Name of each Month
It is basically the number + 月 but you need to be careful with April, July and September.
Name of each Day
It is basically the number + 日 but 1st to 10th, 14th, 20th and 24th all end in 日. You also need to be careful with 17th, 19th, 27th and 29th.
How to say the o’clock
For ”Half past xxx,” you can add 半 afterwards. For example:
half past 1 = 一時半
|1 minute past
|2 minutes past
|3 minutes past
|4 minutes past
|5 minutes past
|6 minutes past
|7 minutes past
|8 minutes past
|9 minutes past
|10 minutes past
|11 minutes past
|22 minutes past
Many Japanese people are proud to have 4 distinctive seasons. The word “season” in Japanese is 季節（キセツ） and “Four seasons” is called 四季（シキ） as a set. They are:
- spring はる 春
- summer なつ 夏
- autumn あき 秋
- winter ふゆ 冬
The set of the 4 kanji letters, 春夏秋冬, can be read as はる・なつ・あき・ふゆ (kun-yomi, the originally Japanese reading) or シュン・カ・シュウ・トウ (onyomi, the originally Chinese reading).
Most part of Japan has 梅雨（バイウ or つゆ）- the rainy season – between spring and summer, although it does not get counted as a “season.”
The words like hot and cold in Japanese have lots to do with seasons. Please see the chart below.
We also use these 4 words, あつい, あたたかい, すずしい and さむい for “hot” and “cold” and because these words are often translated as “hot,” “warm,” “cool” and “cold” respectively, lots of people seem to think they are lined up in the order from “the hottest” to “the coldest.” However, あたたかい and すずしい are NOT about the temperature itself but they are about level of comfort. あたたかい is used in winter (or when it is supposed to be cold) to say “it’s not too cold” while すずしい is used exclusively in summer (or when it’s supposed to be hot) to say “it’s not too hot.” When we hear the word すずしい in winter or あたたかい in summer, it sounds quite awkward to Japanese ears.