Japanese Vocabulary Lesson 28: Months Japanese traditional names

As I showed you in a lesson quite some time ago, Japanese names for the months of the year are really easy to memorize, because they literally mean “month one”, “month two”, etc.

But did you know they once were called in a different way?

Here is the list of the traditional names for the months, and their meaning!

English
Japanese Modern Name
Japanese Traditional Name
Meaning
January 一月 (いちがつ, ichi gatsu) 睦月 (むつき, mutsuki) “Month of Affection”
February 二月 (にがつ, ni gatsu) 如月 (きさらぎ, kisaragi) or 衣更着 (きぬさらぎ, kinusaragi) “Changing Clothes”
March 三月 (さんがつ, san gatsu) 弥生 (やよい, yayoi) “New Life”
April 四月 (しがつ, shi gatsu) 卯月 (うずき, uzuki) “U-no-hana Month”
May 五月 (ごがつ, go gatsu) 皐月 (さつき, satsuki) or 早苗月(さなえつき, sanaetsuki) “Early-rice-planting Month”
June 六月 (ろくがつ, roku gatsu) 水無月 (みなつき, minatsuki) “Month of Water”
July 七月 (しちがつ, shichi gatsu) 文月 (ふみずき, fumizuki) “Month of Books”
August 八月 (はちはつ, hachi gatsu) 葉月 (はずき, hazuki) or 葉落ち月 (はおちずき, haochizuki) “Month of Leaves” or “Month of Falling Leaves”
September 九月 (くがつ, ku gatsu) 長月 (ながつき, nagatsuki) “The Long Month”
October 十月 (じゅうがつ, jyuu gatsu) 神無月 (かみなずき, kaminazuki or かんなずき, kannazuki) or 神有月 or 神在月 (かみありずき, kamiarizuki) “Month of the Gods”, “Month without Gods”, or “Month with Gods”
November 十一月 (じゅういちがつ, jyuu ichi gatsu) 霜月 (しもつき, shimotsuki) “Month of Frost”
December 十二月 (じゅうにがつ, jyuu ni gatsu) 師走 (しわす, shiwasu) “Priests Running”

These are the traditional names. Their meaning can have a little longer explanation, which I’m willing to post later in the History Section! Keep tuned!


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