If you’re traveling to Japan, you may want to learn the days of the week (or youbi) in Japanese to talk about your schedule. Let’s break down the days of the week and how to use them in a sentence.
Days of the Week in Japanese
Learning the days of the week can be easy for English speakers especially, because like English, each Japanese day ends with the same suffix. In English, it’s -day; in Japanese, each day of the week ends with -youbi. Remember this suffix, and you’re halfway there!
How to Remember the Days of the Week in Japanese
These words might look daunting if you’re just beginning to study Japanese, especially since they’re pure kanji. The kanji for 曜日 (-youbi) especially can be difficult to write by hand, so you might want to practice writing only the first kanji, then writing –youbi in hiragana as a start.
In terms of the first character for each day of the week, though, there’s a simple memory trick that Japanese students also use. Each day of the week has an element of nature that fits its kanji character, and Japanese schools teach these mnemonics to help grade students learn the kanji early on. Let’s break them down together.
Nichiyoubi (Sunday) – Literally a Sun Day
日 = ☀
The kanji for 日 (nichi) literally means “sun” or “day”. This makes it especially easy for English speakers to remember the first day of the week in Japanese. Try to imagine the kanji for “sun” as a window, through which you can watch the sunrise on a Sunday.
Getsuyoubi (Monday) – The Moon Follows the Sun
月 = 🌕
The kanji for 月 (getsu) means “moon” or “month”. Just as the moon rises after the sun sets, imagine Monday rising after a Sunday evening.
Kayoubi (Tuesday) – A Fiery Day
火 = 🔥
The kanji for 火 (ka) means “fire”. The character even looks a bit like a dancing flame, if you use your imagination. If you’re having some trouble envisioning the fire, consider Tuesday as the day you get really fired up for your week after a dreary Monday.
Suiyoubi (Wednesday) – The Wave’s Crest
The character 水 (sui) means “water”. You might think of Wednesday as a splash of water to douse your fiery Tuesday. If that doesn’t help you remember the word suiyoubi, try to imagine that Wednesday is the wave crest in the middle of the week. Once you’ve gotten over that wall of rushing water, it’s all downhill from there.
Mokuyoubi (Thursday) – A Tree in the Week
The kanji 木 (moku) means “wood” or “tree”. I’ve always liked to think that the water from Wednesday grew a large, beautiful tree on Thursday. If that doesn’t help you remember, looking at the kanji might help. 木 looks a bit like a bare tree with branches spreading above and below its mighty trunk.
Kinyoubi (Friday) – A Golden Day Before the Weekend
Everyone loves Friday. The excitement of a weekend is just around the corner. That might be why Kinyoubi has the kanji for “gold” or “money” as its first character: 金. You can remember this day either by imagining all the money you’re going to spend this Friday evening after work, or by thinking Friday wins the gold medal as your favorite day of the week.
Doyoubi (Saturday) – The Earth is Yours
Saturday is finally here! The first kanji character for Saturday is 土 (do), which means “soil” or “earth”. You could remember this by thinking about gardening, or other relaxing hobbies people enjoy on their day off. You could also consider a literal sense of the word “earth” in thinking that on Saturday, the world of possible enjoyments is yours to explore.
Other Japanese Words Related to Days and Dates
In addition to the days of the week, let’s look at a few other words or phrases related to the calendar:
|ototoi||the day before yesterday|
|asatte||the day after tomorrow|
|ichinichi||all day long|
You may notice some patterns in some of these words: the kanji 今 (read ko- or kon-) refers to the present time, while 来 (read as rai-) refers to the future. This isn’t always the case, but it can be a useful tip to remember if you’re reading a Japanese schedule or calendar.
Using Japanese Days of the Week in a Sentence
In our article on Japanese particles, we discussed how the particle に (ni) is used for words depicting time, place, and the direction of action. This means that days of the week will almost always be followed by the particle ni. For example, “I went to a concert on Friday” would be said like this: “金曜日にライブへ行きました” (Kinyoubi ni raibu e ikimashita).
However, it’s important to remember that the subject marker が (ga) and the topic marker は (wa) will take precedence if the day of the week is the subject and/or topic of the sentence. Using the example of the concert, a similar with a day of the week being the subject would look like this: “Friday is the day of the concert,” or, “金曜日がライブの日です” (Kinyoubi ga raibu no hi desu).
Furthermore, if a day is used as a possessive, it will take the particle の (no). For example, a sentence like, “Friday’s concert was awesome!” would become “金曜日のライブはすごかった!” (Kinyoubi no raibu wa sugokatta!).
However, native speakers often drop the particles from days of the week and other date-related words. You could say, “金曜日, ライブへ行きました” (Kinyoubi, raibu e ikimashita) and still be correct.
Here are a few more example sentences to help you remember this rule.
- Tuesday’s lunch is always spaghetti. 火曜日のランチはかならずパスタです. Kayoubi no ranchi wa kanarazu pasta desu.
- I have a test on Friday. 金曜日に試験があります. Kinyoubi ni shaken ga arimasu.
- Tomorrow is my birthday. 明日が私の誕生日です. Ashita ga watashi no tanjoubi desu.
- We’re going to my aunt’s house next week. 来週, うちのおばさんの家に行きます. Raishuu, uchi no obsa-san no ie ni ikimasu.
- I have a date on Monday. 月曜日にデートがあります. Getsuyoubi ni deeto ga arimasu.
Days of the Week in Japanese – Conclusion
Learning the days of the week in Japanese isn’t as hard as the kanji makes it appear. Try writing each day a couple of times each, and don’t forget to use the Clozemaster app to test your knowledge! How do you say the days of the week in your language?