The Complete Guide to Writing Dates in Japanese

Published November 23rd, 2022

Writing dates in Japanese is surprisingly easy! While there is a lot of memorization involved in being able to write the date, once you know your numbers and counters, it is a simple task to put everything together.

The date in Japanese is written in the order of Year + Month + Day, so let’s look into how to say the year, month, and day in Japanese.

Years in Japanese

The year is easy to write if you know how to write numbers into the thousands. Just write the year in numerical form then add the counter (ねん) (nen) to the end!

2022 in Japanese is 2022年. It is written out as 二千二十二年(にせんにじゅうにねん) and pronounced ni-sen ni-jū-ni nen.

In modern times, years are based on the Gregorian calendar rather than the Japanese calendar, which is based on the reigns of its emperors. Japan is currently in the 令和(れいわ) (reiwa) era. The previous era was the 平成(へいせい) (heisei) era. The Heisei era began in 1989 when Emperor Akihito ascended the throne. It lasted until his death in 2019, when his son Naruhito took his place and began the Reiwa era. To write the year in the format of the Japanese calendar, add the era before the year. For example, 2019 was the first year of the current era and would be written as 令和1年(れいわいちねん) (reiwa ichi nen).

Related Words to Know:

What year: 何年(なんねん) (nan nen)

This year: 今年(ことし) kotoshi)

Last year: 去年(きょねん) (kyonen)

Next year: 来年(らいねん) (rainen)

Every year: 毎年(まいとし) (maitoshi)

Months in Japanese

Months follow the same rule as years. In fact, if you know numbers 1-12 in Japanese, you’re already halfway there! The month in Japanese is simply the month’s number followed by (がつ) (gatsu), the counter for months.

Month Kanji Romaji
January 一月 or 1月(いちがつ) Ichi-gatsu
February 二月 or 2月(にがつ) Ni-gatsu
March 三月 or 3月(さんがつ) San-gatsu
*April 四月 or 4月(しがつ) Shi-gatsu
May 五月 or 5月(ごがつ) Go-gatsu
June 六月 or 6月(ろくがつ) Roku-gatsu
*July 七月 or 7月(しちがつ) Shichi-gatsu
August 八月 or 8月(はちがつ) Hachi-gatsu
September 九月 or 9月(くがつ) Ku-gatsu
October 十月 or 10月(じゅうがつ) Jū-gatsu
November 十一月 or 11月(じゅういちがつ) Jū-ichi-gatsu
December 十二月 or 12月(じゅうにがつ) Jū-ni-gatsu

*四 is usually pronounced よん (yon) or よ (yo). For April, it is always pronounced し (shi). 七 can also be pronounced as なな (nana), but for July, it always uses the しち (shichi) pronunciation

Related Words to Know:

What month is it?: 何月ですか?(なんがつですか) (nan gatsu desu ka?)

This month: 今月(こんげつ) (kongetsu)

Last month: 先月(せんげつ) (sengetsu)

Next month: 来月(らいげつ) (raigetsu)

Every month: 毎月(まいつき) (maitsuki)

Days of the Month

Writing the days of the month is where it gets tricky. Days all end with the counter 日. While the majority of the time it is pronounced にち (nichi), a large chunk of the days pronounce it as か (ka).

Day Kanji Romaji
*1st 1日 or 一日(ついたち) Tsuitachi
2nd 2日 or 二日(ふつか) Futsuka
3rd 3日 or 三日(みっか) Mikka
4th 4日 or 四日(よっか) Yokka
5th 5日 or 五日(いつか) Itsuka
6th 6日 or 六日(むいか) Muika
7th 7日 or 七日(なのか) Nanoka
8th 8日 or 八日(ようか) Yōka
9th 9日 or 九日(ここのか) Kokonoka
10th 10日 or 十日(とうか) Tōka
11th 11日 or 十一日(じゅういちにち) Jū-ichi-nichi
12th 12日 or 十二日(じゅうににち) Jū-ni-nichi
13th 13日 or 十三日(じゅうさんにち) Jū-san-nichi
*14th 14日 or 十四日(じゅうよっか) Jū-yokka
15th 15日 or 十五日(じゅうごにち) Jū-go-nichi
16th 16日 or 十六日(じゅうろくにち) Jū-roku-nichi
17th 17日 or 十七日(じゅうしちにち) Jū-shichi-nichi
18th 18日 or 十八日(じゅうはちにち) Jū-hachi-nichi
19th 19日 or 十九日(じゅうくにち) Jū-ku-nichi
*20th 20日 or 二十日(はつか) Hatsuka
21st 21日 or 二十一日(にじゅういちにち) Nijū-ichi-nichi
22nd 22日 or 二十二日(にじゅうににち) Nijū-ni-nichi
23rd 23日 or 二十三日(にじゅうさんにち) Nijū-san-nichi
*24th 24日 or 二十四日(にじゅうよっか) Nijū-yokka
25th 25日 or 二十五日(にじゅうごにち) Nijū-go-nichi
26th 26日 or 二十六日(にじゅうろくにち) Nijū-roku-nichi
27th 27日 or 二十七日(にじゅうしちにち) Nijū-shichi-nichi
28th 28日 or 二十八日(にじゅうひちにち) Nijū-hichi-nichi
29th 29日 or 二十九日(にじゅうくにち) Nijū-ku-nichi
30th 30日 or 三十日(さんじゅうにち) Sanjū-nichi
31st 31日 or 三十一日(さんじゅういちにち) Sanjū-ichi-nichi

As you can see, days 2 through 10 end with か (ka). Days above 10 end in にち (nichi), with exceptions being 14, 20, and 24. Also note that days 2 through 10 use their Kun'yomi readings, as opposed to their more common On'yomi readings. The 1st of the month is an outlier, so it is best to memorize it.

Days of the Week

Days of the week all end with 曜日(ようび) (yōbi). In Japanese, each day of the week is represented by an element in nature as well as a celestial body.

Day Kanji Romaji Meaning
Sunday 日曜日(にちようび) Nichiyōbi Sun
Monday 月曜日(げつようび) Getsuyōbi Moon
Tuesday 火曜日(かようび) Kayōbi Fire, Mars
Wednesday 水曜日(すいようび) Suiyōbi Water, Mercury
Thursday 木曜日(もくようび) Mokuyōbi Wood, Jupiter
Friday 金曜日(きんようび) Kinyōbi Gold, Venus
Saturday 土曜日(どようび) Doyōbi Dirt, Saturn

Note that the kanji for the days of the week use their On'Yomi readings, rather than their more common Kun’Yomi readings.

As mentioned, the date in Japanese is written in the order of Year + Month + Day. If you want to add a day of the week, the most common way is to add it to the end using parentheses. In this instance, the 曜日 is dropped and only the defining kanji is used.

Related Words to Know

What day of the week is it?: 今日は何曜日ですか?(きょうはなにょうびですか) (Kyō wa nan yōbi desu ka?)

Today: 今日(きょう) (kyō)

Yesterday: 昨日(きのう) (kinō)

Tomorrow: 明日(あした) (ashita)

Every day: 毎日(まいにち) (mainichi)

Week: (しゅう) (shū)

This week: 今週(こんしゅう) (konshū)

Last week: 先週(せんしゅう) (senshū)

Next week: 来週(らいしゅう) (raishū)

Every week: 毎週(まいしゅう) (maishū)

Weekend: 週末(しゅうまつ) (shūmatsu)

Weekday: 平日(へいじつ) (heijitsu)

Let’s practice what we’ve learned with some important dates in Japan!

Remember: Year + Month + Day (weekday)

New Year’s Day (January 1st) is 2023年1月1日(日)

Coming of Age Day (January 9th) is 2023年1月9日(月)

Foundation Day (February 11th) is 2023年2月11日(土)

Emperor’s birthday (February 23rd) is 2023年2月23日(木)

Golden Week (April 29th to May 5th) is 2023年4月29日(土) から2023年5月5日(金)

*から (kara) means “from” and can link two dates together

Marine Day (July 17th) is 2023年7月17日(月)

Mountain Day (August 11th) is 2023年8月11日(金)

Respect for the Aged Day (September 18th) is 2023年9月18日(月)

Sports Day (October 9th) is 2023年10月9日(月)

Culture Day (November 3rd) is 2023年11月3日(金)

Labor Thanksgiving Day (November 23rd) is 2023年11月23日(木)