how to tell time in japanese

how to tell time in japanesebefore you start talking how to tell time in japanese, let's find out how to write and build seconds and minutes in Japanese.

how to tell time in japanese

That way, we can follow it step-by-step, until we're ready to speak the time in Japanese.

Japanese seconds and hours

This is a very neglected part of the Japanese language by Japanese teachers. Because of its little use, many authors and teachers do not mention the subject.

But as I was watching the Suzuka anime, I noticed that the characters used Japanese seconds a lot (Suzuka is a romance between students who participate in an athletic club). So I decided to do something different and mention the subject here in the Japanese language.

To write the seconds, we will need the numbers in japanese and the kanji , which means seconds or moment in Japanese. The default would be: number + . Shall we see some examples?

一秒 - One second
二秒 - Two seconds
三秒 – three seconds
四秒 – Four seconds
五秒 - Five seconds
六秒 – six seconds
七秒 – seven seconds
八秒 – eight seconds
九秒 – nine seconds
十秒 – ten seconds

As far as we can see, writing the seconds in Japanese is not difficult at all. Just use the Japanese numbers (from one to 59) followed by the Japanese symbol .

Another cool thing is that there are no exceptions related to reading kanji, we keep reading the same way we learned when we studied the numbers in japanese.

The minutes and hours in Japanese

This time we will use the symbol  to pass the idea of minutes in Japanese.

The construction is based on the same pattern as the seconds, but instead of the symbol , let's use the . The default is: numbers + . Let's see how the minutes are in Japanese?

一分 - One minute
二分 - Two minutes
三分 - Three minutes
四分 - Four minutes
五分 - Five minutes
六分 – six minutes
七分 – seven minutes
八分 – eight minutes
九分 – nine minutes
十分 - Ten minutes
十一分 – eleven minutes
十二分 – Twelve minutes
十三分 – Thirteen minutes
十四分 – fourteen minutes
十五分 - Fifteen minutes
十六分 – sixteen minutes
十七分 – seventeen minutes
十八分 – Nineteen minutes
十九分 – Nineteen minutes
二十分 - Twenty minutes

Again we find a different reading for the Japanese numbers. In today's case we have i for ro for nana for there is for  and ju/ji for . Things get even more complicated when we realize that the Japanese symbol  change your reading of fun for pun when combined with certain numbers. But don't worry, with a little practice we can learn anything.

If we look carefully at the list above, we will notice that the reading pun from kanji  is always used with the numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10. This makes it a little easier to know when to read fun or pun.

As you can see, it was not necessary to write the minutes from 1 to 59, since the construction of the minutes follows the same rule of numbers in Japanese, but logically, following the reading and writing demonstrated in the list above.

the hours in japanese

As can be expected, to write the hours we will need the numbers in Japanese. If you don't know them yet, you should read the article: the numbers in japanese.

In addition to the numbers, we will use the Japanese symbol . It is with him that we will indicate the idea of time.

So, to form the hours in Japanese, let's use the following pattern: number + . So far it's been pretty easy, isn't it? Let's see how to write all the hours in Japanese?

一時 - One hour
二時 - Two hours
三時 - Three hours
四時 - Four o'clock
五時 - Five o'clock
六時 - Six hours
七時 - Seven o'clock
八時 - Eight o'clock
九時 - Nine o'clock
十時 - Ten hours
十一時 – 11 hours
十二時 - Twelve hours

If you paid close attention, you noticed three irregular pronunciations in the hours in Japanese. In case, 四時 is pronounced yoji and not yonji, 七時 is pronounced shichiji and not nanaji and 九時 is pronounced kuji and not kyuuji. These symbols are not read the way we are used to, so we need to be careful with them.

how to tell time in japanese

Now that we know how to form hours, minutes and seconds, let's learn how to write and tell time in Japanese in a more complete way.

The basic

Telling the time in Japanese is very simple. We just need to pay a little attention to some details that are not even essential for communication. Let's start with a simple sentence pattern: ,[number] です

 means now,  means hours andです works like the verb to be. Then just put the desired number before the  to form a complete sentence. Let's go to the examples:



Speaking half an hour in Japanese

To speak the hours in half (half an hour) we will need the kanji  used after the to form the expression half an hour (or half an hour). With that, we can say “now it's half past four”. Check it out:



If you've noticed, the pattern for forming this sentence is:  ,[number] です

Speaking fifteen minutes in Japanese

We can use the fifteen minutes in two ways: speaking of the fifteen minutes that have already passed or that are missing to complete an hour.

To say that fifteen minutes have passed, let's use the expression すぎ after , forming the pattern ,[number] 十五分すぎです。 Let's go for one more example:


Now let's invert and say that there are fifteen minutes left to complete a certain hour. In this case, we will use the kanji  after 十五 to indicate the remaining minutes. The default for this case is: ,[number] 十五です. Here's the example:


A simplified way to tell the time in Japanese

As with Portuguese, there is a simpler and more objective way to tell the time by omitting the  . That way we can say it's x hours and y minutes ([number] [number] です). Let's go to the examples:



Following this path, it is very easy to tell the time in Japanese. The only things you will need is to know the numbers well and to know how to write the hours and minutes in Japanese. How about seeing two more examples?



How to tell time in Japanese – day or night?

In some cases, the Japanese do not use 24-hour timekeeping. That way, it can get complicated to know if an appointment is going to be held at seven in the morning or at night. This problem can be solved in three ways: by the context of the sentence, using adverbs of time and using the 24-hour mark.

Using sentence context to tell time in Japanese

There are cases where it is easy to find out the time of an appointment by the context of the sentence. For example:


As we know that a dinner always takes place during the night, so it is clear from the context that the appointment will be at six o'clock at night and not in the morning. It would be kind of weird to have breakfast at six o'clock at night...

Using adverbs of time to tell the time in Japanese

In this case, we are going to use some of the new Japanese time-related symbols in Japanese. The adverbs of time are:

午前 or : Morning. Usually between 5 and 11 am.
: Half day, 12 hours.
午後: The afternoon or evening. Usually between 1 pm and midnight.
夕方 or : Night
深夜: Dawn. Usually between 1 and 4 am.

Whenever you are going to use any of these adverbs, place them before the hours together with the particle . In this way, we indicate the relationship between hours and the adverb of time.

The pattern for forming sentences of this type is: ,[adverb]  [hour] です . Shall we see some examples?




The most used adverbs of time in Japan are 午後 and 午前, relating the hours of morning or evening.

Using 24 hour dial In japanese

This time expression pattern can be used in Japan, although it is not very common. So we can use the numbers from 一(1) to 二十四(24) to indicate the difference between morning, afternoon and evening hours. Check it out:



Useful time phrases in Japanese

I thought it would be nice to end this article about the time in Japanese with some useful phrases in everyday life. Hope you like it.







Kanji calligraphy exercise

Below are the Japanese ideographic symbols used in this article. Selecting the desired kanji, copy and paste them into Worksheet for Kana and Kanji Practice , a new window will open where you can view the printable file and practice Japanese calligraphy by covering the gray symbols and then trying to write yourself. Just print and practice.