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Month names

1 Oct

Do you know the names of the months in Japanese?
They’re named “Month One“, “Month Two“, and so on in Japanese.

The names of the months are:

  1. 一月 (Ichi-gatsu)
  2. 二月 (Ni-gatsu)
  3. 三月 (San-gatsu)
  4. 四月 (Shi-gatsu)
  5. 五月 (Go-gatsu)
  6. 六月 (Roku-gatsu)
  7. 七月 (Shichi-gatsu)
  8. 八月 (Hachi-gatsu)
  9. 九月 (Ku-gatsu)
  10. 十月 (Jyuu-gatsu)
  11. 十一月 (Jyuu-ichi-gatsu)
  12. 十二月 (Jyuu-ni-gatsu)

But until about 900 years ago, the months had different names in Japanese.
These days, the old months’ names aren’t normally used except in poems and stories.
Occasionally people will call March, May and December by their old names.

These old names of the months in Japanese are:

  1. 睦月 (Mu-tsuki)…it means “Harmonious month”.
  2. 如月 (Kisaragi)…means “Month for an extra layer of clothes”.
  3. 弥生 (Yayoi)…”Month of growth / life”. (Yayoi can be a girl’s name too).
  4. 卯月 (Uzuki)…”Month of the Unohana flower”.
  5. 皐月 (Satsuki)…”Month of the Azalea blossoms. (Also can be a girl’s name).
  6. 水無月 (Mi-na-zuki)…”Month without water”.
  7. 文月 (Fumi-zuki)…”Culture month”.
  8. 葉月 (Ha-zuki)…”Month of leaves”.
  9. 長月 (Nagatsuki)…”The long month”.
  10. 神無月 (Kan-na-zuki)…”The month with no gods”.
  11. 霜月 (Shimo-tsuki)…”Frosty month”.
  12. 師走 (Shiwasu)…”The month of busy priests”

These month’s names are based on the old Lunar Calendar (that China still uses).
That’s why some of the month’s names might seem a bit off (for example, 水無月 (Mi-na-zuki)…”Month without water” is the month of June—which is Japan’s “rainy season“.
Japan uses the “solar calendar” now (same as Western countries)…speaking of the Western calendar, have you ever noticed that many of the month’s name seem wrong?
For example, September means “seven“, but it’s the ninth month…
October means “eight” (like “octogon” (eight sides) and “octopus” (eight legs)), but it’s the tenth month…
November means “nine“, but it’s the eleventh month…
December means “ten” (like “decimal” (based on units of ten)), but it’s the twelfth month.