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How to Tell Time in Japanese

Telling the time in Japanese isn't too difficult, but it takes some practice. You will need to know the basics of counting in Japanese (see here).

Very simply the formula is:

Hour number + 時 ji + Minutes number + 分 fun

The trick is, the 分 changes with some numbers. It is recommended to learn the following chart:


Vocabulary needed:
時間 jikan time
午後 gogo afternoon; P.M.
午前 gozen morning; A.M.
mae before
Minutes: (the * means irregular pronunciation)
時間 jikan - Time
午前 gozen - A.M. (morning)
午後 gogo - P.M. (afternoon)
前 mae - Before (before the hour)

1:15 P.M. - gogo ichiji juugofun
7 A.M. - gozen shichiji
6:30 - rokuji sanjuupun
6:31 - rokuji sanjuu ippun
6:45 P.M. - gogo rokuji yonjuugo fun
15 'til 7 - shichiji juugo fun mae
*一分ippun1 minute
二分ni fun2 minutes
三分san pun3 minutes
四分yon pun4 minutes
五分go fun5 minutes
*六分roppun6 minutes
七分nana fun7 minutes
*八分happun or hachifun8 minutes
九分kyuu fun9 minutes
*十分juppun10 minutes
*十一分juu ippun11 minutes

There are two pronunciation changes going on here.

1) Changes to the number itself
2) Changes to the 'fun'

1) Changes to the number itself
The number is changed in 1, 6, 8 (sometimes) and 10:

Normal Number: Changed Number:
一分 ippun
六分 roppun
八分 happun (or often はちふん)
十分 juppun (without the extra う)

2) Changes to the 'fun'
The 分 can change to 'pun' or sometimes 'bun' after some sounds. Please note, this is highly regional and the following should be used as a guide for further study.

Affected Numbers
一分 ippun
三分 san pun
四分 yon pun
六分 roppun
八分 happun (or often はちふん)
十分 juppun

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How do you saw; "what time is it ?" in Japanese

clay's picture

Nan ji desu ka?

何時ですか? nan ji desu ka? What time is it?

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腕時計を買うときですよ! ふふふ~~ I crack my self up... >.>;

im's picture


I'm not really sure bout this but does the Ji ex.rokuji is to show that we are talking bout time??

phreadom's picture

Correct. :)

Correct. :)


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