The Ultimate Guide to Telling Time in Japanese

Published December 15th, 2022

Before learning to tell time in Japanese, it is good to have your Japanese numbers memorized.

Number Kanji Romaji
1 (いち) Ichi
2 () Ni
3 (さん) San
4 (よん) Yon
5 () Go
6 (ろく) Roku
7 (しち or なな) Shichi or Nana
8 (はち) Hachi
9 (きゅう) Kyū
10 (じゅう)

Numbers 11 through 19 are written as 十 + number. For example, 12 is 十ニ (Jū-ni).

Numbers 20 through 99 have the multiple of ten placed before 十. For example, 20 is ニ十 (Ni-jū).

Zero in Japanese can be written as (れい) (rei) or ゼロ (zero).


Time in Japanese is 時間(じかん) (jikan). This kanji is also used to describe the duration of hours. To describe a certain amount of hours, the kanji 時間 is placed after the number. For example, 5 hours in Japanese is 5時間 or 五時間.

When telling time, the hour is represented by () (ji). The kanji is placed after the number, and roughly translates to “o’clock.”

Time Kanji Romaji
1 o’clock 1時 or 一時(いちじ) Ichi-ji
2 o’clock 2時 or 二時(にじ) Ni-ji
3 o’clock 3時 or 三時(さんじ) San-ji
4 o’clock 4時 or 四時(よじ) Yo-ji
5 o’clock 5時 or 五時(ごじ) Go-ji
6 o’clock 6時 or 六時(ろくじ) Roku-ji
7 o’clock 7時 or 七時(しちじ) Shichi-ji
8 o’clock 8時 or 八時(はちじ) Hachi-ji
9 o’clock 9時 or 九時(くじ) Ku-ji
10 o’clock 10時 or 十時(じゅうじ) Jū-ji
11 o’clock 11時 or 十一時(じゅういちじ) Jū-ichi-ji
12 o’clock 12時 or 十二時(じゅうにじ) Jū-ni-ji
13:00 13時 or 十三時(じゅうさんじ) Jū-san-ji
14:00 14時 or 十四時(じゅうよじ) Jū-yo-ji
15:00 15時 or 十五時(じゅうごじ) Jū-go-ji
16:00 16時 or 十六時(じゅうろくじ) Jū-roku-ji
17:00 17時 or 十七時(じゅうしちじ) Jū-shichi-ji
18:00 18時 or 十八時(じゅうはちじ) Jū-hachi-ji
19:00 19時 or 十九時(じゅうくじ) Jū-ku-ji
20:00 20時 or 二十時(にじゅうじ) Ni-jū-ji
21:00 21時 or 二十一時(にじゅういちじ) Ni-jū-ichi-ji
22:00 22時 or 二十ニ時(にじゅうにじ) Ni-jū-ni-ji
23:00 23時 or 二十三時(にじゅうさんじ) Ni-jū-san-ji

Japan uses both 24-hour and 12-hour formats, depending on the situation. The 12-hour format is common in conversation. The 24-hour format is more common when written down, like a store’s business hours or train schedules. When using the 12-hour format, A.M and P.M. can be used to differentiate between day and night, but they are optional.

A.M. in Japanese is 午前(ごぜん) (gozen). P.M. is 午後(ごご) (gogo). These are placed before the hour. For example, 3 A.M. is 午前3時.


Minutes in Japanese are represented by the kanji 分. It is pronounced either ぷん (pun) or ふん (fun) depending on the number that precedes it.

Time Kanji Romaji
1 minute 1分 or 一分(いっぷん) Ippun
2 minutes 2分 or 二分(にふん) Nifun
3 minutes 3分 or 三分(さんぷん) Sanpun
4 minutes 4分 or 四分(よんふん) Yonfun
5 minutes 5分 or 五分(ごふん) Gofun
6 minutes 6分 or 六分(ろっぷん) Roppun
7 minutes 7分 or 七分(ななふん) Nanafun
8 minutes 8分 or 八分(はっぷん) Happun
9 minutes 9分 or 九分(きゅうふん) Kyūfun
10 minutes 10分 or 十分(じゅっぷん) Juppun

Note that some numbers remain regular while others are shortened or become irregular.

30 minutes is 30分 or 三十分. However, (はん) (han) means “half past” and can be used when telling time.


Seconds in Japanese are represented by (びょう) (byō). Like with hours and minutes, this kanji is placed after the number it describes.

Time Kanji Romaji
1 second 1秒 or 一秒(いちびょう) Ichi-byō
2 seconds 2秒 or 二秒(にびょう) Ni-byō
3 seconds 3秒 or 三秒(さんびょう) San-byō
4 seconds 4秒 or 四秒(よんびょう) Yon-byō
5 seconds 5秒 or 五秒(ごびょう) Go-byō
6 seconds 6秒 or 六秒(ろくびょう) Roku-byō
7 seconds 7秒 or 七秒(ななびょう) Nana-byō
8 seconds 8秒 or 八秒(はちびょう) Hachi-byō
9 seconds 9秒 or 九秒(きゅうびょう) Kyū-byō
10 seconds 10秒 or 十秒(じゅうびょう) Jū-byō
30 seconds 30秒 or 三十秒(さんじゅうびょう) San-jū-byō
59 seconds 59秒 or 五十九秒(ごじゅうきゅうびょう) Go-jū-kyū-byō
60 seconds 60秒 or 六十秒(ろくじゅうびょう) Roku-jū-byō

Additional Words to Know

Around: (ごろ) (Goro)

About: (やく) (Yaku)

At: に (Ni)

Before: (まえ) (Mae)

After: (あと) (Ato)

Sharp: ちょうど (Chōdo)

Now: (いま) (Ima)

From/Until: から (Kara)

Time Related Questions

What time is it now? 今何時(いまなんじ)ですか? (Ima nan-ji desu ka?)

What time? 何時(なんじ)?(Nan-ji?)

How many hours? 何時間?(なんじかん) (Nan-jikan?)

How many minutes? 何分?(なんぷん) (Nan-pun?)

How many seconds? 何秒?(なんびょう) (Nan-byō?)

What time is X? Xは 何時(なんじ) ですか?(X wa nan-ji desu ka?)

How long does it take? どのくらい () かりますか?(Dono kurai kakarimasu ka?)


今何時(いまなんじ) ですか?

Ima nan-ji desu ka?

What time is it now?


Ichi-ji Jū-gofun desu.

It is 1:15.

授業(じゅぎょう)八時(はちじ) から (はじ) まるから。

Jugyō wa hachi-ji kara hajimarukara.

Class doesn't begin until eight o’clock.

(まつ) りは 何時(なんじ) ですか?

Matsuri wa nan-ji desu ka?

What time is the festival?


Nana-ji goro.

Around 7 o’clock.

どのくらい () かりますか?

Dono kurai kakarimasu ka?

How long does it take?

やく 10分(じゅっぷん) です。

Yaku juppun desu.

About 10 minutes

(わたし)30秒(さんじゅうびょう)()電車(でんしゃ)()(おく) れた!

Watashi wa san-jū-byō no sa de densha ni noriokureta!

I missed the train by 30 seconds!

映画(えいが)9時(くじ)(はじ) まりました。

Eiga wa ku-ji ni hajimarimashita.

The movie started at 9 o’clock.