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.

14 Responses to “Month names”

  1. cuteandcurls October 2, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    Interesting fact blog .. i like the old names, hmmmm since its now the month of October and soon it’ll be December …how about a blog about New Year cards 😀


  2. In10Words aka "Galileo" October 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    I like the old names better. “The Long Month” is my favorite (despite being the name for September, which had 30 Days. And, as mentioned earlier, there were once 10 months, with September as #8. January & February were added later)


    • tokyo5 October 3, 2009 at 12:12 am #

      >I like the old names better.

      Well, the “current” names are easier (and logically named).

      >“The Long Month” is my favorite

      I like this month’s (October) old name (神無月 (Month with no gods)).

      >despite being the name for September, which had 30 Days.

      I was wondering if someone would notice that.
      As I mentioned above, just like the Western calendar…the names of Japan’s old calendar became illogical when the calendar changed.
      Such as “Longest month” for September, and “Month with no water” for July (that I mentioned in the post above)…and “Month of leaves” for August (it used to occur in autumn under the lunar calendar…when the leaves changed color).

      >September as #8.

      I guess you meant “‘7” (not 8).


  3. autumnincolors October 2, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Japanese is so like chinese! Are those words in kanji? I can understand most of them, since I speak Chinese.


    • tokyo5 October 3, 2009 at 12:05 am #

      Japanese has some similarities to Chinese…but mostly they’re quite different.

      And, yes, Japanese uses kanji, and “kana” for writing.

      I looked at your site. Are you in junior high school in America? I think you must be about my youngest daughter’s age.


      • autumnincolors October 7, 2009 at 10:04 am #

        Yes, I’m in middle school.

        Do you live in Japan?


      • tokyo5 October 7, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

        >Yes, I’m in middle school.

        My youngest two daughters are in junior high, and my oldest is in high school.
        (Equivalent to grades 7, 9, and 10 in the U.S.).

        >Do you live in Japan?

        Yes. In Tokyo.
        Do you live in America?


  4. Sir Pent October 2, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    It’s like those Japanese have a different word for EVERYTHING!


    • tokyo5 October 2, 2009 at 12:54 am #

      Like they speak a different language or something! 😉


  5. Squimpleton October 1, 2009 at 4:53 am #

    I just realized a lot of these months are the names of the people in “Happy Lesson”.

    As far as the weird sun calendar goes. The month names used to make sense. There was a time when september was the 7th month, and october the 8th month, and november the 9th, etc.. However they changed the beginning of the year from march1st to january 1st and now the names are just funny.


    • tokyo5 October 2, 2009 at 12:54 am #

      >“Happy Lesson”.

      Is that a Japanese study program?

      >they changed the beginning of the year from march1st to january 1st

      I always thought that March 1 should be New Years Day. Start the year at the beginning of Spring rather than the middle of Winter.


      • Squimpleton October 2, 2009 at 4:20 am #

        It’s an anime. This guy gets adopted by his five female teachers.
        There’s Kisaragi, Yayoi, Uzuki, Satsuki, and Mutsuki.

        Then he has two sisters: Minazuki and Hazuki. And I think the girl that has a crush on him is Fumizuki.


      • tokyo5 October 3, 2009 at 12:02 am #

        Oh, I don’t know much about anime.

        There are a couple that I watch occasionally (such as “Crayon Shin-chan“).


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