If you are visiting Japan, you might want to learn the days of the week (or youbi) in Japanese so you can discuss your flight schedule and travel plans. Even if you are not visiting Japan soon, learning days of the week in Japanese is probably among the initial lessons you will take as a Japanese learner.
Learning the days of the week can be simple for English speakers because each Japanese day ends with the same suffix. It’s -day in English; in Japanese, each day of the weekends with -youbi. Keep this suffix in mind, and you will be halfway there.
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How to remember the days of the week in Japanese
If you are just starting out with Japanese, these words may appear intimidating, especially since they are all kanji. The kanji for (-youbi) in particular can be difficult to write by hand, so you might want to start by writing only the first kanji, then -youbi in hiragana.
However, there is a simple memory trick that Japanese students use for the first character of each day of the week. Each day of the week has a natural element that corresponds to its kanji character, and Japanese schools use these mnemonics to help grade students learn the kanji early on. Let’s dissect them together.
The kanji for 日 (nichi) literally means “sun” or “day”. This makes remembering the first day of the week in Japanese especially easy for English speakers. Consider the kanji for “sun” to be a window through which you can see the sunrise on a Sunday.
The kanji for 月 (getsu) means “moon” or “month”. Consider Monday rising after a Sunday evening, just as the moon rises after the sun sets.
The kanji for 火 (ka) means “fire”. If you use your imagination, the character could even resemble a dancing flame. If you are having trouble visualizing the fire, think of Tuesday as the day you get fired up for the week after a gloomy Monday.
The character 水 (sui) means “water”. You could think of Wednesday as a splash of water to cool off after a hot Tuesday. If that doesn’t help you remember the word suiyoubi, imagine Wednesday as the crest of the week’s wave.
The kanji 木 (moku) means “wood” or “tree”. 木 looks a bit like a bare tree with branches spreading above and below its mighty trunk.
Everyone looks forward to Friday. The thrill of the weekend is just around the corner. That could be why Kinyoubi’s first character is the kanji for “gold” or “money”: i.e. 金. You can remember this day by imagining all the money you will spend this Friday evening after work, or by thinking, Friday is your favorite day of the week.
The first kanji character for Saturday is 土 (do), which means “earth” or “soil”. Consider gardening or other relaxing hobbies that people enjoy on their days off to help you remember this. You could also take a literal interpretation of the word “earth” and imagine that on Saturday, the world of possible pleasures is yours to explore.
Learning Japanese is not a difficult process. You need to choose the right learning resources, be consistent and sharpen your imagination.
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Other Japanese words related to days and dates
|一昨日おととい||ototoi||the day before yesterday|
|明後日あさって||asatte||the day after tomorrow|
|一日いちにち||ichinichi||all day long|
You may notice some patterns in some of these words: the kanji 今 (read ko- or kon-) refers to the present time, while 来 (read as rai-) refers to the future. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a good tip to keep in mind when reading a Japanese schedule or calendar.
Some Japanese examples related to the days of the week
- Tuesday’s lunch is always spaghetti. 火曜日のランチはかならずパスタです. Kayoubi no ranchi wa kanarazu pasta desu.
- I have a test on Friday. 金曜日に試験があります. Kinyoubi ni shaken ga arimasu.
- Tomorrow is my birthday. 明日が私の誕生日です. Ashita ga watashi no tanjoubi desu.
- We’re going to my aunt’s house next week. 来週, うちのおばさんの家に行きます. Raishuu, uchi no obsa-san no ie ni ikimasu.
- I have a date on Monday. 月曜日にデートがあります. Getsuyoubi ni deeto ga arimasu.
You can learn Japanese greetings to use all the sentences in your day-to-day conversations. Remember that Japanese are polite people and give importance to greetings and expressions in conversations.
Frequently asked questions
Q. Is the week in Japan seven days long?
A. The Japanese were quick to adopt the seven-day week, but it fell out of use in daily life in Japan until the late nineteenth century, though it was kept separate for astrological purposes.
Q. Is there a four-day workweek in Japan?
A. Japan has a four-day workweek. Although Japan was once known for its intense work culture, the country recently issued new guidelines encouraging employers to switch to four-day work weeks.
Q. Is Sunday a holiday in Japan?
A. You get at least one day off per week, but most jobs give you two days off per week. Some are consecutive, such as the typical Saturday and Sunday off, but others are not.
Learning the days of the week in Japanese isn’t as difficult as the kanji suggests. Try writing a few times per day, and don’t forget to test your knowledge. Don’t wonder if Japanese is hard to learn and try to practice everything that you learn.
Use different learning resources available online such as Japanese media, podcasts, animes, and documentaries. Look for documentaries that involve days of the week in Japanese as it will help you gain fluency.
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