Learn Japanese - Dates, Units and Counting

Dates, Units and Counting in Japanese

Learning how to express dates, units, and counting in Japanese is an essential skill for anyone who wants to learn Japanese and communicate effectively in the language.

Here are some important things to keep in mind:


In Japanese, dates are typically expressed in the order of year, month, and day, with the year being written first. For example, January 1st, 2023, would be written as "2023年1月1日" (nisen nijuu san nen ichigatsu tsuitachi). Note that the kanji characters for "year," "month," and "day" are used in this format.

Units of Time

When expressing units of time in Japanese, it's important to be aware of the different counters that are used for different types of objects.

For example, the counter for minutes is "fun," while the counter for hours is "jikan." Similarly, the counter for days is "nichi," while the counter for weeks is "shuu." There are many other counters that are used for different types of objects, so it's important to do some research and learn which counters are appropriate for different situations.


Counting in Japanese can be a bit tricky, as there are different counting systems that are used for different types of objects. For example, the "ichi, ni, san" counting system is used for counting most objects, while the "hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu" counting system is used for counting flat objects like sheets of paper.

It's also important to note that there are different words for counting people, animals, and other types of objects.

Kanji Characters

In Japanese, kanji characters are often used to express numbers, particularly for larger numbers. For example, the number 100 is expressed as "百" (hyaku) in kanji. It's important to learn how to recognize and read kanji characters if you want to be able to read and understand numbers in Japanese.

Overall, learning how to express dates, units, and counting in Japanese takes some practice and memorization, but it's an essential skill for anyone who wants to communicate effectively in the language. With some patience and persistence, you can master these concepts and feel confident in your ability to use them in a real-life situation in Japan, such as a shopping trip or ordering items in a restaurant for example.

Days of the week

Monday : getsuyobi

Tuesday : kayobi

Wednesday : suiyobi

Thurday : mokuyobi

Friday : kinyobi

Saturday : doyobi

Sunday : nichiyobi

Months and Seasons

Winter : Fuyu

January : ichigatsu

February : nigatsu

March : sangatsu

Spring : Haru

April : shigatsu

May : gogatsu

Summer :Natsu

June : rokugatsu

July : shichigatsu

August : hachigatsu

Automn : Aki

September : kugatsu

October : jugatsu

November : juichigatsu

December : junigatsu

Absolute Numbers

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten : Ichi, ni, san, yon, go, roku, nana, hachi, kyu, juu

Eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fiveteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty : Juuichi, juuni, juusan, juuyon, juugo, juuroku, juunana, juuhachi, juukyu, nijuu

Thirty, fourty, fivety, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, hundred : sanjuu, yonjuu, gojuu, rokujuu, nanajuu, hachijuu, kyujuu, hyaku

One thousand, two thousand, three thousand,… ten thousand : Sen, nisen, sansen,… ichiman

Twenty thousand, thirty thousand, … one hundred thousand : Niman, sanman,…juuman

One million, two million…ten million : hyakuman, nihyakuman…issen man

One hundred millions,…one billion : ichi oku man,… itchou

Days of the month, dates

In Japanese, the days of the month are a bit more complex than the numbers (listed above).

For example, you might think that as it says « ichigatsu » for January (litterally : Month one), you can say « ichinichi » (day one) to say the 1st of the month. Well, almost. Ichinichi means one day, but in the duration of one day. The 1st of the month is « Tsuitachi ».

Here are the special days of the month (others follow the same rules as absolute numbers)

1st : tsuitachi

2nd : futsuka

3rd : mika

4th : yoka

5th : itsuka

6th : muika

7th : nanoka

8th : youka

9th : kokonoka

10th : touka

14th : juuyoka

20th : hastuka

24th : nijuuyoka

For the years, it’s very easy (as soon as you keep with the western calendar, because the Japanese calendar is a bit more tricky for foreigners anaware of the history of Japan). Just use the absolute number and add « nen » (année) to specify it’s a date.

Ex : 1982 : Sen Kyuhyaku Hachijuu ni nen.


For the age, you say the number and add « sai » :

1 year old : isai

2 years old : nisai

3 years old : sansai

It’s very easy and goes on this way. If you don’t know the exact age, use « goro » to say « about » :

About 5 years old : gosai goro.

Only exception would be :

20 years old : Hatachi

30 years old : Misoshi


Nanji desu ka : What time is it ? So…

It’s one o clock : ichi ji

…2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 o’clock : ni ji, san ji, yo ji, go ji, roku ji, shichi ji, hachi ji, ku ji, juu ji, juu ichi ji, juu ni ji.

Midnight : rei ji

1 past 5 minutes : ichi ji go fun

…past 10 min, 15 min, 20 min, 25 min… and a half : juu pun, jugo fun, nijuu pun, nijuu go fun, … sanjuu pun

…twenty five to, twenty to, fiveteen to, ten to, five to two : Niji nijugofun mae, niji nijupun mae, niji juugo fun mae, ni ji juupun mae, ni ji go fun mae.

4 in the morning : gozen no yoji

4 in the afternoon : gogo no yoji


When you want to count, you’ll find that Japanese is the most complex and horrible languages of all in that matter. There are so many way to count stuff, based on the nature of what your are counting : long stuff, flat stuff, mechanical stuff, plane, house, people, round stuff, big stuff, food…so lets focus on two of them

Counting things (small stuff)

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten : Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, yottsu, itsutsu, muttsu, nanatsu, yattsu, kokonotsu, to

Counting people

One,…ten : hitori, futari, sannin, yonin, gonin, rokunin, nananin, hachinin, kyunin, juunin.


If you want to establish a list of priorities or stuff you like/want/… :

Cardinal number :

First : dai ichi

Second : dai ni

Third : dai san

Fourth : dai yon

Fifth : dai go

Sixth : dai roku

Seventh : dai nana

And so on…

Ordinal number :

First,… : ichibanme, nibanme, sanbanme, etc.

You’ll often hear « ichiban », which means first, like in « Nihon ichiban ! »(Japan is the best !)