Days of the Week in Japanese : Complete Guide

Source: charlesdeluvio from Unsplash

It might surprise you how frequently the days of the week come up in conversation. If you want to speak Japanese like a native, you need to acquire these words early on in your studies so that they are second nature to you. Perhaps you’d like to meet up with some friends, buy tickets to a live show, make a restaurant reservation, or have a package delivered. If you get into any of these situations in Japan or with a Japanese friend, knowing the days of the week in Japanese is an absolute must. Japan is the only country in the world where the sole official language is Japanese; yet it’s influence on culture and the economy through technology and media are thoroughly felt everywhere as it is has the third largest economy while Japanese is the world’s ninth most spoken language. Whether you’re an absolute beginner to Japanese or right in the thick of your language learning journey, this article will be your guide to the Japanese days of the week. You will get to know the meaning and culture behind their names, and we’ll let you in on some top tips and techniques for remembering them.

Days of the week in Japanese
Before we begin, it’s crucial to note that the week in Japan starts on Sunday and finishes on Saturday. This is worth noting because most Japanese calendars utilize this model.

If you’re a beginner, don’t worry if you’ve if you can’t read Hiragana or Katana yet. To memorize the days of the week, you only need to remember 8 different Kanji characters.

English Kanji (漢字) Hiragana (平仮名) Romaji (ローマ字)
Sunday 日曜日 にちようび nichiyoubi
Monday 月曜日 げつようび getsuyoubi
Tuesday 火曜日 かようび kayoubi
Wednesday 水曜日 すいようび suiyoubi
Thursday 木曜日 もくようび mokuyoubi
Friday 金曜日 きんようび kinyoubi
Saturday 土曜日 どようび doyoubi

 

What Does Each Word Mean?

ようび (youbi)
Each day of the week is made of three characters, two of which are unchanging. Just like the -day suffix in English, Japanese words use youbi for every day of the week. . The Japanese word ようび/youbi means “day.” It’s Kanji is derived from the Chinese characters 曜日. The word ようび/youbi is always attached to words that indicate the days of the week.

にち(nichi)

Source: Talking Darcy

Sunday is 日曜日, which translates to “Sun Day”. Which should be the easiest day to remember because they are pretty much the same.

The Kanji 日(にち / nichi) in 日曜日 (にちようび / nichiyoubi) evolved from the Chinese pictogram for the sun.

You’ll notice that even though the character 日 appears twice in 日曜日, the first referring to “sun” is pronounced にち / nichi while the second referring to “day” is pronounced び /bi.

げつ(getsu)

Source: Talking Darcy

Monday is 月曜日, which literally translates to “Moon Day”.

If you think about it, Monday sounds pretty close to “Moon day”, which makes for a great mnemonic. The Kanji character 月 (げつ/ getsu) means “moon.” As a pictorgram, it even takes after the shape of a crescent moon.

This character is also used to mean month in Japanese but is read as つき/tsuki.

か(ka)

Source: Talking Darcy

Tuesday is 火曜日. Literally translated, it means “Fire Day”.

The Kanji 火(か/ ka) in かようび/kayoubi represents fire. It comes from the Chinese pictogram that depicts a three pronged dancing flame surrounded by sparks on both sides.

When 火 is used to mean fire on its own, however, the character is read as ひ/hi.

すい(sui)

Source: Talking Darcy

Wednesday is 水曜日. which means “Water Day”.

The Kanji character 水 (すい / sui) represents water, and is a Chinese pictogram evolved from the image of flowing water.

Outside of the context of Wednesday, however, the character for water is pronounced みず/mizu.

もく(moku)

Source: Talking Darcy

Thursday is written as 木曜日, which means “Wood Day”.

The Kanji character 木 (もく / moku) in 木曜日 (もくようび / mokuyoubi) comes from the Chinese pictogram of a tree which takes the shape of the outline of the wooden part of a tree, a trunk with branches hanging from it.

木 means tree/wood. When the character is used by itself, it takes on the sound き/ki.

きん(kin)

Source: IPE Academy

Friday is 金曜日. This literal translation for it would be “Gold Day”.

The Kanji 金 (きん / kin) means gold or metal, but the pictogram that represents it isn’t as straightforward as some of the others above as it isn’t just an image of the element gold on its own but of gold buried under the dirt that flashes when observed.

In 金曜日 (きんようび / kinyoubi), the word is shortened to きん/kin, but when used on its own in is pronouned かね/kane.

ど(do)

Source: Talking Darcy

Saturday is 土曜日. This could translate to “Earth Day” or “Ground Day”.

The Kanji character 土 (ど / do) in 土曜日 (どようび / doyoubi) came from a the Chinese pictogram in the shape of a mound of earth. The word earth here specifically refers to physical earth like dirt or soil not the Planet Earth. Although, it does relate to a planet, as does every other day. More on that later.

土 つち/tsuchi, as it’s pronounced on its won, means ground/earth. We say 地球 ちきゅうchikyuu when we refer to the planet

Tips for Remembering:
1. Make an Mnemonic Using the First Letters of Every Day

The first-letter mnemonic, from its name, is a memorization strategy where you use the first letters of the words in a sentence to make it easier to remember information in a specific order.

One of the most famous ones is “My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” which we use to remember the order of the planets.

Here some examples for the days of the week in Japanese:

(N)ichi, (G)etsu, (K)a, (S)ui,(M)oku, (K)in, (D)o

Nine Great Kids Served Me Katsu Dinner.

No Good King Saves Man-Killing Dictators.

Nasty Gooey Kittens Screw Merry Kinky Demons.

You can even make up your own first-letter mnemonic.
2. Remember the Elements and the Kanji Pictograms

The kanji for the days of the week all correspond to the different elements: Sun, Moon, Fire Water, Tree, Gold, and Ground. Since sun and moon, fire and water pair up nicely and gold is buried in the ground like buried treasure, we can make up a super short and simple mnemonic story to remember the elements in order.

At night, the Sun sleeps, the Moon rises,

Fire is put out with Water

while, Under a Tree,

Gold is buried in the Ground.

3. Spaced Repetition Flashcards

Flash cards are a great way to organize information to keep in your memory. When used right, they can be the ultimate rote memorization tool. Rote memorization is a great way to memorize names and lists without having to think too hard about any meaning or story behind it. By repeatedly seeing or hearing the information, you increase the associative link needed for you to remember the information.

But how do you know if you review them too little or too much to be effective? Pairing flashcards with a spaced repetition system is also a good strategy to memorize information that entails repeating it at increasingly longer intervals until it sticks to your long term .

4. Change your calendar language settings

Open Google Calendar Settings. In the “Language” section, select Japanese in the drop-down menu. This way, you can force yourself to interact with the days of the week in Japanese every time you look at your calendar. Changing settings on your app or phone also allows you to come across some simple and useful words with high enough frequency that eventually you learn and remember them. Every time you check your calendar or lock screen, you would see the name of the day in Japanese instead and without even realizing it, you’ll be living the act of checking the date and scheduling meetings in Japanese.

5. Put it into a song

Music is such a powerful way to remember things. While we may not be attempting to memorize song lyrics, a catchy earworm can get stuck in our heads better (or worse) than any real adhesive and stay with us longer than any other material. For English speakers it is how we learn the alphabet, but Russians, Arabians, and Koreans also have their own alphabet songs. Unfortunately, with its three script writing systems, Japanese actually does not have an iconic alphabet song, but it does have a catchy song for the days of the week.

Days of the Week Song in Japanese

Source: ボンボンアカデミー

Lyrics:

日曜日に 市場(いちば)へでかけ

糸と麻(あさ)を 買ってきた

<コーラス>

テュリャ テュリャ テュリャ

テュリャ テュリャ テュリャリャ

テュリャ テュリャ テュリャ

テュリャリャ

月曜日に おふろをたいて

火曜日は おふろにはいり

<コーラス>

水曜日に ともだちが来て

木曜日は 送っていった

<コーラス>

金曜日は 糸まきもせず

土曜日は おしゃべりばかり

<コーラス>

ともだちよ これが私の

一週間の 仕事です

English Translation:

I went to the market on Sunday.

And bought yarn and linen.

<Chorus>

Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia

Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia

Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia.

Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia, Tullia.

On Monday, I heated the bath.

On Tuesday I went to the bath.

<Chorus>

On Wednesday, my friend came.

On Thursday, I took him home.

<Chorus>

Friday, no stringing.

Saturday, all we did was talk.

<Chorus>

Friends, this is my work for the week.

This is my work for the week.

The Culture of Japanese Days

Source: IDEA FACTORY, MIYAKO

The naming of the days relates to ideas of cosmology and celestial bodies. The connections in the first two days of the week are pretty obvious, since they’re named after the Sun and the Moon. The first five planets in Japanese (not counting Earth) are called 水星 (Mercury),金星 (Venus),火星 (Mars),木星 (Jupiter), and 土星 (Saturn). Notice Something? The Kanji character names for the planets represent the same elements as five days of the week do! This all traces back to the ancient Chinese theory of the Five Elements (wuxing in Mandarin). The Five Elements were a system for explaining bodily, medicinal, astrological and cosmological phenomena. Japan later adapted the wuxing into the 五行 (ご ぎょう/gogyo) also known as 陰陽五行 (おんみょう ごぎょう/onmyō gogyō). The ancient Chinese referred to the Sun, Moon, and the five planets as the Seven luminaries 七曜 (qī yào in Mandarin, しちよう/shichiyou in Japanese). Japanese days of the week are adapted from the Seven Luminaries, which is why the character 曜 (よう/you) is used in 曜日 (ようび /youbi) to refer to any day of the week.

Useful Words Related to the Days of the Week

English Kanji (漢字) Hiragana (平仮名) Romaji (ローマ字)
Today 今日 きょう kyou
Tomorrow 明日 あした ashita
Yesterday 昨日 きのう kinou
Day After Tomorrow 明後日 あさって asatte
Day Before Yesterday 一昨日 おととい ototoi
The Other Day 他の日 ほか の ひ hoka no hi
Week 週間 しゅうかん shūkan
Next Week 次週 じしゅう jishū
Last Week 前週 ぜんしゅう zenshū
Weekend 週末 しゅうまつ shūmatsu
Long Weekend 連休 れんきゅう renkyū
Holiday 休日 きゅうじつ kyūjitsu
Working Day 就業日 しゅうぎょうび shugyobi
Half Day 半日 はんじつ hanjitsu
Morning あさ asa
Noon 正午 しょうご shōgo
Afternoon 午後 ごご gogo
Evening 夕方 ゆうがた yūgata
Month つき tsuki
Date 日付 ひづけ hizuke


What’s Next?

Now learning the days of the week in Japanese should be a breeze! What’s next?

Why not learn how to tell time in Japanese. You can even learn the names of the months, and the different holidays. Japan has one of richest cultures and media empires in the world, and only Japanese speakers can enjoy anime, manga, music and video games as they were originally written!

Learning Japanese can be tough, especially with three writing systems and thousands of Kanji required. Learn more about Kanji here. But with a personalized tutor, you can practice learning the characters with instant feedback on pronunciation. Visit AmazingTalker for more information on how to locate the best online teachers not just in Japanese, but also in a range of other fascinating languages!

About AmazingTalker

About AmazingTalker

AmazingTalker offers professional online language tutors and teachers from around the world. We offer personalized one-on-one online tutoring that can help you master Korean more quickly and know your needs more clearly. flexible schedules with no joining fee. It’s a great way to start your Korean learning more systematically with a low budget.

Check now

Related Articles