Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

August 11, 2013

Names of the months in Japan

Every first-year student of Japanese knows the names of the months: ichi-gatsu, ni-gatsu, san-gatsu etc... it could not be simpler, just the counters from one to twelve plus "month." It is also a bit boring. Happily, there is a more poetic way of naming the months in Japan - but less easy to remember:
1. Mutsuki 睦月 or "social month / month of affection" - the time that family and friends join to celebrate the New Year

2. Kisaragi 如月 or "put on more clothes against the cold" - the coldest season of the year

3. Yayoi 弥生 or "renewed growth" - as plants start growing in this season

4. Uzuki 卯月 or "month of the U-flowers (deutzia)" 
5. Satsuki 皐月 or "month of planting rice shoots"

6. Minazuki 水無月 or "the waterless month" - possibly corrupted for "full-water month"

7. Fuzuki (Fumizuki) 文月 or "the month in which the rice ears swell (month for writing poetry)

8. Hazuki 葉月 or "month of falling leaves"

9. Nagatsuki 長月 or "month of long nights" - famous for the beautiful autumn moon

10. Kannazuki 神無月 or "godless month" - as the gods from all over Japan are said to travel to the Izumo shrine and so are away from home

11. Shimotsuki 霜月 or "month of frost"

12. Shiwasu 師走 or "month of busy priests" - who run around all day for religious services as the year draws to an end.
These poetic names are never used for dates, but only in poetry, such as haiku, or on old-fashioned calendars.