Do you like mythology?
Are you fascinated by astronomy?
Or perhaps, all of the above?
If you answered yes, yes and yes—then you’re going to like what we’ve prepared for you!
As you’re about to find out, there’s more to Monday than it being the dreaded first day of the work or school week.
Let’s go beyond time and into space and learn the days of the week in Japanese.
Quick Introduction to Days of the Week in Japanese
Before blasting off to learn the days of the week in Japanese, their connections to the planets and ancient gods and how English and Japanese days of the week are quite similar in origin, it’d behoove of you to know a couple of basic little tidbits.
The names of the individual days in Japanese can be split into two parts.
The beginning of the word is different for each day, while the end part remains identical no matter what day of the week.
The first part is the bit that describes the specific day.
The unchangeable part is 曜日 (ようび), which basically means “day.” It’s the second part of every day’s name.
For example, the first part of the word Monday in Japanese is 月 (げつ), which translates to “moon.”
One last thing worth mentioning in this brief introduction is how the Japanese days of the week are abbreviated. When writing the days of the week in Japanese, it’s common to just write the first kanji, the part that describes the day.
You’ll often see this practice in newspapers or on school blackboards.
Instead of writing out the whole word for “Monday,” 月曜日 (げつようび), you can write just 月.
If you want to start your Monday off on the right foot, you could begin by watching the latest Japanese videos on FluentU.
You’ll have access to hundreds of authentic Japanese videos complete with interactive subtitles, vocabulary lists and quizzes to help you improve your Japanese language skills week after week.
Now that you know all of that, you’re ready to blast off into learning the actual days of the week in Japanese.
Days of the Week in Japanese
月曜日 (げつようび) — Monday
The most dreaded day of all, at least in my humble opinion, is Monday.
In Japanese, Monday is written as 月曜日, which translates to “Moon Day” in English.
You probably immediately noticed the similarity between this day’s name in Japanese and English.
火曜日 (かようび) — Tuesday
In Japanese, Tuesday’s name is 火曜日, which means “Fire Day” in English.
Does it have any connection to Tuesday in English though? It does! Allow me to explain and blow your mind.
All of the days of the week in Japanese correspond to certain celestial bodies. With Monday, that celestial body is the moon. And with Tuesday here, it’s the planet Mars.
Mars in Japanese is 火星 (かせい), which means “Fire Planet” in English.
Now check this out.
In English, Tuesday got its name from an old Nordic god, Tyr or Tiw. Tyr’s day or Tiw’s day eventually morphed into Tuesday.
Tyr is a god of war. And guess who else is a god of war in, let’s say, Roman mythology? Yup, it’s Mars.
To remember that Tuesday in Japanese is 火曜日 or ” Fire Day,” think of it this way. Monday is our “warm up to the week” day. After a whole day of warming up and getting that spark going, by Tuesday, you’re fired up and ready for action at work or school. So, Tuesday is your day of fire!
水曜日 (すいようび) — Wednesday
Finally, it’s halfway through the week!
In Japanese, Wednesday is written as 水曜日, which means “Water Day“ in English.
The celestial body corresponding to this day is “Mercury” or 水星 (すいせい).
Wednesday got its name in English from another Nordic god named Odin, also known as Woden. Woden’s Day!
And in Roman mythology, Mercury is the equivalent to good old Odin.
If you’re having a tough time memorizing that Wednesday is Water Day in Japanese, just remember that the Japanese word for Tuesday includes “fire,” and you put out a fire with water, or as you’d say in Japanese, 水 (すい).
木曜日 (もくようび) — Thursday
It’s almost Friday, which means it’s almost the weekend!
In Japanese, Thursday is written as 木曜日, which translates to “Wood Day.” Thursday got its Japanese name from the word 木星 (もくせい), which means “Jupiter.”
The Nordic god related to this day in English is, as you’ve probably already guessed, the mighty Thor.
The Roman equivalent of Thor is Jupiter. Aren’t these connections so fascinating?
You can easily remember the name for Thursday in Japanese with this trick, despite it being a bit of a stretch!
Thursday is the fourth day of the week. And you know how they say fourth place gets the wooden medal? So the fourth day of the week in Japanese starts with the word for “wood,” 木 (もく).
金曜日 (きんようび) — Friday
Friday is finally here! Thank goodness!
Friday is written as 金曜日, which appropriately means the “Gold Day.”
This beautiful name comes from the goddess “Venus,” 金星 (きんせい).
In English, it got its name from the Nordic goddess Frigg, Odin’s wife. Frigg’s Day became Friday.
The Roman counterpart of Frigg doesn’t exist.
Just joking, of course, it does! The Roman equivalent of Frigg is the goddess Venus.
You’ll easily remember this day of the week in Japanese because Friday is the golden day we all wait for every week!
曜日 (どようび) — Saturday
Yes, it’s Saturday!
Saturday in Japanese is 土曜日, which means “Ground Day” in English.
It got its Japanese name just like it got its English name, from “Saturn,” 土星 (どせい).
Saturday is the day most of us “get around” to doing things we don’t have time to do during the week. Around and ground rhyme! You’re welcome!
日曜日 (にちようび) — Sunday
Soak up the sun on Sunday because tomorrow is Monday!
Sunday is written as 日曜日, which means “Sun Day.” It’s literally identical to Sunday in English, it’s just translated.
Good luck trying to remember this one!
Other Words for Days of the Week
Before we part ways, check out these useful words that refer to days of the week without using their names.
一昨日 (おととい) — The day before yesterday
昨日 (きのう) — Yesterday
今日／本日 (きょう／ほんじつ) — Today
明日 (あした／あす) — Tomorrow
明後日 (あさって) — The day after tomorrow
先週 (せんしゅう) — Previous week
今週 (こんしゅう) — This week
来週 (らいしゅう) — Next week
Here are some examples of how to use some of these time terms properly in a sentence.
昨日はとても暑かったです。 (きのうはとてもあつかったです) — Yesterday was very hot.
明後日はあずささんの誕生日です。(あさってはあずささんのたんじょうびです) — The day after tomorrow will be Azusa’s birthday.
来週の金曜日にタイへ旅行します。(らいしゅうのきんようびにたいへりょこうします) — I’ll travel to Thailand next week on Friday.
たくまくんは一昨日ヨーロッパから帰りました。(たくまくんはおとといよおろっぱからかえりました) — Takuma returned home from Europe the day before yesterday.
先週の木曜日サッカーの試合を見ました。(せんしゅうのもくようびさっかあのしあいをみました) — I watched a soccer game last Thursday.
今日は、ビデオゲームを買うつもりです。(きょうは、びでおげえむをかうつもりです) — I plan to buy a video game today.
明日は試験があります。(あしたはしけんがあります) — I have a test tomorrow.
Who would’ve thought that days of the week in Japanese and English could have so much in common? They are so far apart geographically yet so similar linguistically. That’s what makes languages so wonderful; they can bridge a giant gap just like that.
The most important thing today is that you learned some Japanese that you’ll likely use every day, and that you had fun along the way!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.