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Grammar detail: Japanese dates

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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).
日曜日にちようびsunSunday
月曜日げつようびmoonMonday
火曜日かようびfireTuesday
水曜日すいようびwaterWednesday
木曜日もくようびwoodThursday
金曜日きんようびgoldFriday
土曜日どようびearthSaturday

Months of the year

As with the days, the months are also very regular - just a number, followed by 月 (read as がつ), meaning month.
一月いちがつJanuary
二月にがつFebruary
三月さんがつMarch
四月しがつApril
五月ごがつMay
六月ろくがつJune
七月しちがつJuly
八月はちがつAugust
九月くがつSeptember
十月じゅうがつOctober
十一月じゅういちがつNovember
十二月じゅうにがつ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 三つ) of a number with 日, 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).
一日ついたち1st
二日ふつか2nd
三日みっか3rd
四日よっか4th
五日いつか5th
六日むいか6th
七日なのか7th
八日ようか8th
九日ここのか9th
十日とおか10th
十一日じゅういちにち11th
十二日じゅうににち12th
十三日じゅうさんにち13th
十四日じゅうよにち14th
十五日じゅうごにち15th
十六日じゅうろくにち16th
十七日じゅうしちにち17th
十八日じゅうはちにち18th
十九日じゅうくにち19th
二十日はつか20th
二十一日にじゅういちにち21st
二十二日にじゅうににち22nd
二十三日にじゅうさんにち23rd
一日にじゅうよにち24th
一日にじゅうごにち25th
一日にじゅうろくにち26th
一日にじゅうしちにち27th
二十八日にじゅうはちにち28th
二十九日にじゅうくにち29th
三十日さんじゅうにち30th
三十一日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.
一昨日おとといday before yesterday
昨日きのうyesterday
今日きょうtoday
明日あした (can also be read あす)tomorrow
明後日あさって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.
季節きせつseason
はるspring
梅雨つゆtsuyu - the rainy season
なつsummer
あきautumn / fall
ふゆwinter
As a side note, 梅雨 is a good example of
'ateji', the idea of assigning a common word as the phonetic reading of (etymologically) unrelated kanji. 梅 means 'plum' (the fruit), and is typically read うめ; 雨 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    
ヨウ    day of the week   
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ガツ   ゲツ   つき month; moon   
カ   fire   ひ    ほ-    
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スイ   みず water   
モク   ボク   き tree   こ-    
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キン   コン   かね gold; money   
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ド   ト   ground; earth   つち ground, earth, soil   
イチ   イツ   one   ひと    ひと-    
ニ   ふた    ふた two   
サン   み    みっ three   
シ   よん    よ four   
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ゴ   いつ-    いつ five   
ロク   むっ six   む    むい    む    
シチ   seven   なな    なな    なの    
ハチ   や    や    よう eight   
ク   キュウ   ここの nine   
ジュウ   ジッ   ten   と    とお    
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クン    teaching, precept; Japanese reading of a kanji   
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ドク   トク   よ to read   
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サク    yesterday   
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コン   キン   いま now   
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メイ   ミョウ   あかるい bright   あきらか obvious   あかす to lay bare   
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ゴ   コウ   のち    あと afterwards   うし behind   おくれる be late   
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バイ   うめ plum tree   
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ウ   あめ    あま- rain   
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キ    season   
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セツ   セチ   ふし occasion, time   
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シュン   はる spring   
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カ   なつ summer   
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シュウ   あき autumn   
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トウ   ふゆ winter   
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トウ   あてる    あたる to hit   
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ジ   character   あざ village section   
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