- 1. When are the weekdays in Japan?
- 2. Weekdays in company
- 3. Business hours & holidays
- 4. Holidays in Japan
- 5. How to say the days of the week in Japanese?
- 6. The meaning behind words
- 7. How to remember the days of the week in Japanese
- 8. History of the day in Japan
- 9. Other useful vocabularies you need to know
If you decide to come to Japan or work in Japan, you may be concerned about when weekdays and business hours are and how to say weekdays in Japanese. In this article, you’ll learn how the Japanese weekday system works and how to pronounce the days of the week in Japanese. You’ll see that there are strange similarities between the English and Japanese languages on this point. The first thing you should know before you broach the subject is that the week in Japan starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday. This is just a detail, but it’s still good to know because most Japanese calendars follow this model. In this simple guide, you’ll also learn how to remember it easily. Let’s go!
1. When are the weekdays in Japan?
Weekdays are ordinary weekdays, excluding holidays (Sundays, national holidays, transfer holidays, national holidays, long holidays, etc., in general companies). They may exclude Saturday and include holidays and other weekdays. In the case of Japan, most schools, businesses, government agencies, etc., include “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, which don’t fall under national holidays/holidays, transfer holidays, year-end holidays and New Year, Golden Week, Obon Time, etc.” together. In most cases, the term “weekdays” is used. So if you go to work on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays, and one of the days from Monday to Friday is a vacation, it can be called a “weekday“.
Originally, “Saturday” was also a weekday, but with the introduction of the two-day week system, schools, businesses, government agencies, etc., that have Saturdays and Sundays as holidays have become the majority, and the number of schools, businesses, government agencies, etc., that are closed on Saturdays has increased.
2. Weekdays in company
The days of the week in Japan depend on the particular company, but usually, Monday through Friday are considered “weekdays”.
|Public Institution||“Monday-Friday” excluding public holidays||Basically, excluding holidays|
|Transportation||“Monday-Friday” excluding public holidays||In the schedule of transportation means such as railroads and busses, “Monday-Friday” is set as the weekday schedule.|
|Office||“Monday-Friday” excluding Public holidays||It depends on each company|
|Hotel||Mainly “Monday-Thursday” is a weekday||Prices tend to be higher on Saturdays, Sundays, and the day before holidays. Sometimes, Friday isn’t a “weekday”|
|Dictionary||Basically, “Monday-Saturday” is a weekday stand.||Often called “days other than Sundays and holidays” it means “Saturday can be excluded.”|
3. Business hours & holidays
The opening hours of banks, post offices, department stores, as well as museums, parks and other public facilities in Japan may differ from those in your home country. These hours also vary throughout the country. Below is a rough overview of some of the more common businesses and services. However, be sure to check the websites for the opening hours of the places or facilities you plan to visit.
|Weekdays||Saturday||Sunday & National Holiday|
4. Holidays in Japan
In addition to regular national vacations, there are also extended vacation periods when almost the entire nation takes time off from the office to go to the beaches, and mountains or visit family. The last week of December through the first week of January, “Golden Week” [a few days in late April through May], and the “Obon Vacation” in mid-August are three of the major vacation periods. Many businesses are closed during the days around New Year’s Day.
During the Golden Week, there are many domestic and foreign travelers, while during the “Obon” vacation, much Japanese travel to their families in more rural areas of the country. Traffic and resorts are particularly busy at these times. Please look at the following list of the Japanese Public Holidays.
|Date||Name of the Day|
|January 1st||New Year’s Holiday|
|2nd Monday of January||Coming-of-Age Day|
|February 11th||National Foundation Day|
|February 23rd||The Emperor’s Birthday|
|March 20th or March 21st||Vernal Equinox Day|
|April 29th||Showa Day|
|May 3rd||Constitution Memorial Day|
|May 4th||Greenery Day|
|May 5th||Children Day|
|3rd Monday of July||Marine Day|
|3rd Monday of September||Respect for the Aged Day|
|September 22nd or September 23rd||Autumnal Equinox Day|
|2nd Monday of October||Health and Sports Day|
|November 3rd||Culture Day|
|November 23rd||Labor Thanksgiving Day|
5. How to say the days of the week in Japanese?
Please look at the following table to know how to say the days of the week in Japanese.
You may have noticed that all the names of the days of the week in Japanese consist of three kanji. The last two are always the same: just like in English, the word for each day of the week with day ようび [曜日]. Japanese word ようび [曜日] (youbi/ yōbi means “day” in English. It comes from the Chinese character 曜日. The word ようび [曜日] (youbi/ yōbi) is always appended to words denoting the days of the week.
6. The meaning behind words
The names of the days of the week have their origin in the seven celestial bodies of our solar system, which were known in ancient times. The sun, the moon and the planets Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. This model is also used in English. Each day of the week is associated with the same celestial body in English and Japanese. Please look at the following table to know the meaning of each day.
7. How to remember the days of the week in Japanese
Even the most talented language learner would have a hard time learning new vocabulary from just looking at a list of words. But we’ve broken it down for you with a short explanation behind the meaning of each day to help you remember the days of the week. Each day of the week is named after a combination of Chinese philosophies of yin-yang and the 5 Taoist elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water).
① Monday 月曜日 (Getsuyoubi)
In Japanese, Monday is written as 月曜日, which translates to “Moon Day” in English. Chinese character 月 (げつ/ Getsu) means “moon” as it represents the picture of a crescent moon. This is also the same character you’ll see with months in Japanese. You can also remember this word by thinking of Monday as the day that “gets” you up and ready for the week!
② Tuesday 火曜日 (Kayoubi)
Tuesday is 火曜日, which means “Fire Day” in English. To remember this day, think of Monday as your “warm-up day”. Once you’re all warmed up, you’re ready and fired up to go by Tuesday! The Chinese character 火 (か / ka) represents a picture of the flames of a burning fire with sparks. This philosophy gives the meaning “Fire Day” to 火曜日 (かようび / Kayoubi).
③ Wednesday 水曜日 (Suiyoubi)
In Japanese, Wednesday is written as 水曜日, which means “Water Day”. You can remember this day by imagining you’re putting out Tuesday’s fire with water on Wednesday. Chinese character 水 (すい / Sui) looks like a picture of flowing water. This gives 水曜日 (すいようび / Suiyoubi) the meaning “water day”.
④ Thursday 木曜日 (Mokuyoubi)
Thursday is written as 木曜日, which means “Wood Day”. You can remember this day as it “mocks” you with the weekend being so close! Chinese character 木 (もく / Moku) in 木曜日 (もくようび / Mokuyoubi) is like a picture of a tree and they give us wood.
⑤ Friday 金曜日 (Kinyoubi)
Friday is written as 金曜日, which means “Gold Day”. This day is easy to remember since Friday is the golden day, we all wait for every week! The philosophy behind the Chinese character 金 (きん / Kin) in金曜日 (きんようび / Kinyoubi) is that there’s a metal hidden in the earth that shines upon discovery. This means gold or metal.
⑥ Saturday 土曜日 (Doyoubi)
In Japanese, Saturday is 土曜日, which means “Ground Day”. For the Japanese word for Saturday, the Chinese character 土 (ど / Do) in 土曜日 (どようび / Doyoubi) signifies a picture of a mound of earth which was worshipped as the source of life in ancient times.
⑦ Sunday 日曜日 (Nichiyoubi)
In Japanese, Sunday is 日曜日, which translates to “Sun Day”. You’ll have no trouble memorizing this day since it’s identical to Sunday in English. Chinese character 日(にち / Nichi) in 日曜日 (にちようび / Nichiyoubi) means sun.
8. History of the day in Japan
The seven-day week system is said to have originated in ancient Babylonia, but each day of the week was created by ancient Rome. In Japan, also with the introduction of the Western calendar, names for the seven days of the week were adopted as well. They were partly derived from the Latin system. The Romans used the names of the seven planets of classical astronomy and numbered the days, beginning with Sunday. The East Asian naming system of weekdays is quite similar to the Latin system and is based on the “Seven Luminaries” (七曜 shichiyō), which consists of the Sun, Moon, and the five planets visible to the naked eye.
The five planets are named after the five elements in traditional East Asian philosophy: Fire (Mars), Water (Mercury), Wood (Jupiter), Metal (Venus), and Earth (Saturn). The Chinese transliteration of the planetary system was soon brought to Japan by the Japanese monk “Kobo Daishi” (弘法大師). Diaries of the Japanese statesman “Fujiwara no Michinaga” (藤原道長) show the seven-day system in use during the Heian Period. It was kept in use for astrological purposes until its promotion to a Western-style calendar during the Meiji era.
9. Other useful vocabularies you need to know
There will be times when you’ll need to know how to say, “Last week” or “Next month”. So here’s the vocabulary you need to know. The following is the basic vocabularies.
|The day after tomorrow||明後日||あさって||Asatte|
|The day before yesterday||一昨日||おととい||Ototoi|
|A week ago||１週間前||いっしゅうかんまえ||Isshuukan-mae|
|3 weeks later||３週間後||さんしゅうかんご||Sanshuukan-go|
|Two months ago||２か月前||にかげつまえ||Nikagetsu-mae|
|Three months later||３か月後||さんかげつご||Sankagetsu-go|
|The year before last||一昨年||おととし||Ototoshi|
|The year after next||再来年||さらいねん||Sarainen|
There are some patterns here! Please look at the following example:
- 先 (Sen or Saki) means “Previous”
- 今 (Ima or Kon) means “Now” or “Current”
- 来 (Rai) means “Coming”
- 後 (Ato or Go) means “After”
- 前 (Mae) means “Before”
- In Japan, most organization regards “Monday to Friday” as “Weekdays”, and Saturdays and Sundays as holidays.
- Five planets are named after the five elements in the traditional East Asian philosophical system: Fire (Mars), Water (Mercury), Wood (Jupiter), Metal (Venus), and Earth (Saturn) were brought to Japan in the Heian period.
- Every day of the week is related to the same celestial body in English and Japanese. Also, Each day of the week is named after a combination of Chinese philosophies of yin-yang, and the 5 Taoist elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water).
- It is better to know how to learn not only “days of the week” but also other phrases such as “This week” and “Next month” to expand your conversation vocabulary more.
For further understanding about learning Japanese, please click the following link to get the other insightful article!