Japanese

How to count time in Japanese. Hours, minutes and seconds.

People say that time is just an illusion, but you do use it in daily life!

Time is one of the fundamental measurements of our daily lives. It’s also the foundation for language learning because you’ll need to express time when talking about things such as meeting places, getting on the train, or your daily life habits.

The Japanese units of time are () (ji)-hour, (ふん) (fun) -minute and (びょう) (byou)-second() (ji) and (びょう) (byou) are simple, but (ふん) (fun) is little tricky because the pronunciation changes depending on the numbers.

In this article we’ll learn how to count in Japanese regarding time, time words, and example sentences related to daily conversations.

() (ji) – Hour

The unit of an hour is called ()  (ji) in Japanese. When you say a certain time, you say “number+() (ji)”.
For example, 3 o’clock is () (san-ji).

Time table

Time
0 o'clock
1 o'clock
2 o'clock
3 o'clock
4 o'clock
5 o'clock
6 o'clock
7 o'clock
8 o'clock
9 o'clock
10 o'clock
11 o'clock
12 o'clock
Clock
Japanese
0時
1時
2時
3時
4時
5時
6時
7時
8時
9時
10時
11時
12時
Pronunciation
reiji

zeroji
ichiji
niji
sanji
yoji
goji
rokuji
shichiji

nanaji
hachiji
kuji
juji
ju-ichiji
ju-niji


Point

 (ji) is a unit and 時間じかん (jikan) is a counter. A counter is a measure word used with numbers to count things.
For example, if you want to say 3 hours, it’ll be 三時間さんじかん (san-jikan).

Additional info! AM and PM

The problem of telling time is that people might not understand whether you want to say AM or PM if you don’t mention it.  When you want to make it clear you’re talking about AM, you add 午前ごぜん (gozen) in front of the time. The word for PM is 午後ごご (gogo).

(ふん) (fun) – Minute

The unit of a minute is (ふん) (fun) in Japanese.
When you want to tell the minutes, you will say number+(ふん) (fun). However, this unit is a little tricky because its pronunciation can to “pun” depending the number. So, for example, two minutes is 二分(にふん)(Nifun), but one minute is 一分(いっぷん)(ippun).

But don’t worry. The numbers that change pronunciation are 1, 6, and 10. This includes bigger numbers, such as 21, 31, 46, when the number ends with the “pun” number.

For example, when you say 1 minute, you say 一分(いっぷん)(ippun). When you say 21 minutes, it’ll be 二十一分(にじゅういっぷん) (niju-ippun).

3, 4, and 8 can use either "fun" or "pun."

How do I combine hours with minutes?

You say "hour number + 時(ji) + minute number + 分(fun/pun)"

For example, 3:40 is: 三時四十分(sanji-yonjyuppun)

(びょう) (byou) - Second

When you count seconds in Japanese, you say (びょう) (byou). All you have to do is say “number”+ (びょう) (byou).
For example, 10 seconds is 十秒(じゅうびょう) (juubyou).

Let's learn some example sentences!

Sentence

I wake up at 7.
私は7時に起きます。
Watashi wa shichi-ji ni okimasu.

I go to school at 8:20.
私は八時二十分に学校に行きます。
Watashi ha hachi-ji nijyuppun ni gakkou ni ikimasu.

I will arrive at school in 15 minutes.
一五分で学校に着きます。
jyuugofun de gakkou ni tsukimasu.

I will heat up my rice for 30 seconds.
ごはんを三十秒温めます。
Gohan wo sanjyubyou atatamemasu.

I will meet my friend at 6 o' clock in the afternoon.
友達と午後六時に会います。
Tomodachi to gogo rokuji ni aimasu.

Vocabulary  list

起きます(okimasu) - to wake/get up
学校(gakkou) - school
行きます (ikimasu) - to go
着きます(tsukimasu) - arrive
ごはん(gohan) - rice
温めます(atatamemasu) - heat up
友達(tomodachi) - friend
会います(aimasu) - meet

If you want to learn more about time, check out our article on how to say you will be late!

-Japanese
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