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Grammar detail: Japanese dates

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JLPT:
Japanese dates
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Japanese dates are very regular, and generally follow a similar pattern to English.

Days of the week

As with the Western calendar, the days of the week in Japanese are based on traditional elements of the environment. In some cases, the same exact elements are used for the same days of the week, as with
にちようび
, which literally means 'sun-day', and refers to the Western Sunday, and
げつようび
which means 'moon-day', and refers to Monday.
Each day of the week follows the same three kanji pattern - the first kanji indicates the day, the second is
よう
meaning 'day of the week', and then
meaning 'day' (together read as ようび).
にちようびsunSunday
げつようびmoonMonday
かようびfireTuesday
すいようびwaterWednesday
もくようびwoodThursday
きんようびgoldFriday
どようびearthSaturday

Months of the year

As with the days, the months are also very regular - just a number, followed by (read as がつ), meaning month.
いちがつJanuary
にがつFebruary
さんがつMarch
しがつApril
ごがつMay
ろくがつJune
しちがつJuly
はちがつAugust
くがつSeptember
じゅうがつOctober
じゅういちがつNovember
じゅうにがつDecember

Days of the month

In general the days of the month are formed by combining the
くんよ
み (Japanese reading, such as みっつ for つ) of a number with , in this case read as か. However, there are some irregularities which just need to be memorized. For example, the first of the month and the 20th both have special terms; certain days use readings for the number kanji which are slightly different to the normal counting forms (eg むいか for the 6th).
ついたち1st
ふつか2nd
みっか3rd
よっか4th
いつか5th
むいか6th
なのか7th
ようか8th
ここのか9th
とおか10th
じゅういちにち11th
じゅうににち12th
じゅうさんにち13th
じゅうよっか14th
じゅうごにち15th
じゅうろくにち16th
じゅうしちにち17th
じゅうはちにち18th
じゅうくにち19th
はつか20th
にじゅういちにち21st
にじゅうににち22nd
にじゅうさんにち23rd
にじゅうよっか24th
にじゅうごにち25th
にじゅうろくにち26th
にじゅうしちにち27th
にじゅうはちにち28th
にじゅうくにち29th
さんじゅうにち30th
さんじゅういちにち31st

Other useful date expressions

Japanese has set expressions to refer to useful dates - note that some of these use unusual readings for the kanji they are written with.
おとといday before yesterday
きのうyesterday
きょうtoday
あした (can also be read あす)tomorrow
あさってday after tomorrow

Seasons of the year

Japan is generally considered to have the same four seasons as in all northern latitudes - spring, summer, autumn and winter. Sometimes the short period between spring and summer (from late May to early June) known as the
つゆ
, the 'rainy season', is considered a fifth season.
きせつseason
はるspring
つゆtsuyu - the rainy season
なつsummer
あきautumn / fall
ふゆwinter
As a side note, is a good example of
'ateji', the idea of assigning a common word as the phonetic reading of (etymologically) unrelated kanji. means 'plum' (the fruit), and is typically read うめ; means 'rain' and is read あめ. Put together, they convey the idea of 'plum-sized rain', which is quite an evocative way to describe the heavy rain of the つゆ! See the full article on あてじ for more information.
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Kanji used in this grammar

ニチ   ジツ   sun; day   ひ    -か    
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ヨウ    day of the week   
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ガツ   ゲツ   つき month; moon   
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カ   fire   ひ    ほ-    
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1
スイ   みず water   
1
モク   ボク   き    こ- tree   
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1
キン   コン   かね gold; money   
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1
ド   ト   ground; earth   つち ground, earth, soil   
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イチ   イツ   ひと    ひと- one   
1
ニ   ふた    ふた two   
1
サン   み    みっ three   
1
シ   four   よ    よ    よっ    よん    
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1
ゴ   いつ-    いつ five   
1
ロク   むっ six   む    むい    む    
1
シチ   seven   なな    なな    なの    
1
ハチ   や    や    よう eight   
1
ク   キュウ   ここの nine   
1
ジュウ   ジッ   と    とお ten   
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1
クン    teaching, precept; Japanese reading of a kanji   
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4
ドク   トク   トウ   よ to read   
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1
サク    yesterday   
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3
コン   キン   いま now   
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1
メイ   ミョウ   あかり light   あかるい bright   あかるむ to brighten   あからむ to become luminous (at dawn)   あきらか obvious   あかす to lay bare   あ to open   あける to empty   
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2
ゴ   コウ   のち    あと afterwards   うし behind   おくれる be late   
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1
バイ   うめ plum tree   
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5
ウ   あめ    あま- rain   
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1
キ    season   
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4
セツ   セチ   ふし occasion, time   
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5
シュン   はる spring   
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2
カ   ゲ   なつ summer   
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2
シュウ   あき autumn   
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2
トウ   ふゆ winter   
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2
トウ   あてる    あたる to hit   
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3
ジ   character   あざ village section   
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2
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