November 23, 2009

Month Names

Do you know the names of the months in Japanese? They’re named Month One, Month Two, Month Three and so on in Japanese. Actually, it's the same way in Chinese as well.

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 (Mutsuki)…meaning Harmonious month.
  2. 如月 (Kisaragi)…meaning Month for an extra layer of clothes.
  3. 弥生 (Yayoi)…Month of growth / life.
  4. 卯月 (Uzuki)…Month of the Uzuki flower.
  5. 皐月 (Satsuki)…Month of cultivation.
  6. 水無月 (Mi-na-zuki)…Month without water.
  7. 文月 (Fumizuki)…Culture month.
  8. 葉月 (Hazuki)…Month of leaves.
  9. 長月 (Nagatsuki)…The long night month.
  10. 神無月 (Kan-na-zuki)…The month with no gods.
  11. 霜月 (Shimotsuki)…Frosty month.
  12. 師走 (Shiwasu)…The month of busy priests.

弥生 (Yayoi) and 皐月 (Satsuki) are also common girl's names.

These months' names are based on the old Lunar Calendar (that China still uses). Therefore, 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. I prefer the old names, it's more romantic and gives more character to the months. With these names you feel the seasons changing.

Speaking of the Western calendar, have you ever noticed that many of the months' names seem wrong? For example, September means seven, but it’s the ninth month, October means eight (like octogon and octopus), but it’s the tenth month, November means nine, but it’s the eleventh month, and December means ten (like decimal), but it’s the twelfth month.... Actually, the month names used to make sense; September was in fact the 7th month of the Roman Calendar, and October the 8th month, November the 9th, etc...until 153 BC, when they changed the beginning of the year from Kalendas Martius (March 1st) to Kalendas Januarius (January 1st) and now the names are just funny.

FYI, September begins on the same day of the week as December every year, because there are 91 days separating September and December, which is a multiple of seven (the number of days in the week).


  1. Wow! that's so interesting - love it :-)
    Drop in today - Patsy & I are having Tuesday Tea Party!

  2. Wow, how very very interesting. I love your blog design! You know, i sued to be able to count to 20 in Japanese but decades later I've completely forgotton it all I'm afraid. Just not that many opportunities here to use Japanese, now "Spanish" (South American style"--tons! LOL.

  3. Wow!~ That's truly fascinating!..,

    From the Japanese months names, to a warm invitation to Afternoon Tea; ( a centuries old tea tradition that has coincidentally also undergone many changes since the early history of tea in the orient)!..,

    Today is my, "Wednesday Tea For Me And Thee", at my, The Plumed Pen blog; (yesterday's tea almost didn't exsist save for the sweet lady at Dragonfly Interiors and her adorable little pooch, because I was under the weather and late getting started; my TUESDAY TEA FOR TWO)!..,Hope you can pop by for a visit!

    Cheers from Silken Purse @ The Plumed Pen