“What Time is it?” in Japanese – How to Ask & Tell The Time


How to Say What Time is it In Japanese Ask and Tell the Time 今何時ですか Ima nanji desu ka

While there are a lot of websites out there that answer the question of how to sayWhat time is it?” in Japanese, I couldn’t find one page that covered the topic entirely. That is why I have decided to write my own blog post and the most detailed guide about how to ask and tell the time in Japanese. Let’s start with the basic question and learn to say “What time is it?in Japanese.

“Ima nanji desu ka?” (今何時ですか) is the polite phrase to ask the time in Japanese and translates as “What time is it (now)?”. When asking a stranger it is common to start with “Sumimasen” (すみません) to get their attention. For friends, on the other hand, you can use the more casual “Ima nanji?” (今何時?).

After asking for the time in Japanese you also want to understand the answer, right? That’s why the latter half of my blog post covers every little bit about how to tell the time in Japanese including o’clock, half past, a quarter past, and a quarter to. In the first half, you will learn other useful questions related to asking for the time such as “What time is it in Japan?“, “What time does it start/end?” and “What time shall we meet?“.

How to Ask For The Time in Japanese

Ima Nanji Desu ka - Asking for the Time in Japanese

1. Ima Nanji Desu Ka? – “What Time is it now?” (formal)

Ima nanji desu ka?” (今何時ですか) is the formal phrase to ask for the time in Japanese and translates as “What time is it now?“. Ima (今) means “now“, nanji (何時) means “what time” or “which hour“, desu (です) means “is“, and ka (か) is the question particle that turns the sentence into a question.

When asking a stranger for the time you should try to get their attention first. You can do this by either starting the conversation with sumimasen (すみません) which means “Excuse me” or “Ano, sumimasen” (あの、すみません) which can be translated as “Uhm, excuse me“.

The most common response will be “Ima ___ ji desu” (今〇〇です) which means “It is ___ o’clock“, but more about that further down below when we learn how to tell the time.

Ima nanji desu ka?
What time is it now?
今何時ですか。
Sumimasen, ima nanji desu ka?
Excuse me, what time is it now?
すみません、今何時ですか。
Ano, sumimasen. Ima nanji desu ka?
Uhm, excuse me What time is it now?
あの、すみません。今何時ですか。
How to Say “What time is it now?” in Japanese (formal)

2. Ima Nanji? – “What Time is it now?” (casual)

The casual phrase to ask your friends for the time in Japanese is even easier because you can drop the polite “desu” and the question particle “ka”. All you have to say is “Ima nanji?” (今何時). You should raise your voice a bit at the end, just like you would do in English when asking a question.

The most common casual response to say “It is ___ o’clock” in Japanese is also easier, because it is just “___ ji” (〇〇時) without the polite copula “desu” at the end.

Ima nanji?
What time is it now?
今何時?
Ano, ima nanji?
Uhm, what time is it now?
あの、今何時ですか?
Nee, ima nanji?
Hey, what time is it now?
ねぇ、今何時ですか?
How to Say “What time is it now?” in Japanese (casual)

3. Nihon wa Ima Nanji Desu Ka? – “What Time is it in Japan?”

There are two phrases you can use to ask someone “What time it is in Japan?” or any other country or city. The first one is “Nihon wa ima naji desu ka?” (日本は今何時ですか), the slightly longer one is “Nihon dewa ima nanji desu ka?” (日本では今何時ですか). “Nihon wa” and “Nihon dewa” both translate as “in Japan”.

If you want to ask what time it is in any other country or a city you just have to replace the first word. When you want to ask “What time is it in Tokyo?“, for example, the phrase would be “Tokyo wa ima nanji desu ka?” (東京は今何時ですか). For America, it would be “Amerika wa ima wa nanji desu ka?” (アメリカは今何時ですか).

The reply could either be “Ima nihon wa ___ ji desu” (今日本は〇〇時です) or “Ima ___ ji desu” (今〇〇時です) which translates as “It is ___ o’clock in Japan right now” or “It is ___ o’clock now“.

Nihon wa ima nanji desu ka?
What time is it in Japan?
日本は今何時ですか?
Nihon dewa ima nanji desu ka?
What time is it in Japan?
日本では今何時ですか?
___ wa ima nanji desu ka?
What time is it in ___?
〇〇は今何時ですか?
___ dewa ima nanji desu ka?
What time is it in ___?
〇〇では今何時ですか?
How to Say “What Time is it in Japan?” in Japanese

4. Nanji ni? – “(At) What Time?”

Last but not least we have the Japanese phrase “Nanji ni?” (何時に?) which is “At what time?” or “What time?” in English. Whenever you want to ask at what time something takes place, what time something has happened, or when you want to know what time something starts or ends you can use this phrase.

Since there are countless occasions when you can use this phrase, I can’t cover all of them. However, below I have tried to come up with some useful examples for both travelers visiting Japan and people living in Japan.

Nanji ni?
At what time?
何時に?
Nanji ni hajimarimasu ka?
What time does it start?
何時に始まりますか。
Nanji ni owarimasu ka?
What time does it end?
何時に終わりますか。
Nanji ni aimashou ka?
What time shall we meet?
何時に会いましょうか。
Nanji ni aiteimasu ka?
What time do you open?
何時に開いていますか。
Nanji ni shimarimasu ka?
What time do you close?
何時に閉まりますか。
How to Say “(At) What Time?” in Japanese

When aking about opening and closing times you can also use “Nanji kara” (何時から, from what time) and “Nanji made” (何時まで, until what time) instead of “Nanji ni”. “Nanji ni kaiten shimasu ka?” (何時に開店しますか) which is “What time does the store open?” and “Nanji ni heiten shimasu ka?” (何時に閉店しますか) which is “What time does the store close?” are also frequently used.

How to Tell the Time in Japanese

Ichi ji Desu - Telling the Time in Japanese - Ichiji desu

Ji (時) – How to Say “o’clock” in Japanese

The Japanese word for “o’clock” is ji (時) and in contrast to English, it can never be dropped. The phrase “It is ___ o’clock” is “___ ji” (〇〇時) in Japanese, but you can also use the politer sentence which is “___ ji desu” (〇〇時です). The words for “AM” and “PM” are gozen (午前) and gogo (午後) and have to be added before the time.

  • It is 1 o’clock (casual): Ichi ji (1時)
  • It is 1 o’clock (formal): Ichi ji desu (1時です)
  • 1 am: Gozen ichi ji (午前1時) or Gozen ichi ji desu (午前1時です)
  • 1 pm: Gogo ichi ji (午後1時) or Gogo ichi ji desu (午後1時です)

When writing the time you can either use Japanese kanji or Arabic numerals. That means that both 一時 and 1時 are correct, but the latter is more common. If you know how the count the hours are pretty straightforward. The only exceptions are “4 o’clock” which is yoji (4時) and “9 o’clock” which is kuji (9時).

1:00
(13:00)
Ichi ji
one o’clock
1時
いちじ
2:00
(14:00)
Ni ji
two o’clock
2時
にじ
3:00
(15:00)
San ji
three o’clock
3時
さんじ
4:00
(16:00)
Yo ji
four o’clock
4時
5:00
(17:00)
Go ji
five o’clock
5時
ごじ
6:00
(18:00)
Roku ji
six o’clock
6時
ろくじ
7:00
(19:00)
Shichi ji
seven o’clock
7時
しちじ
8:00
(20:00)
Hachi ji
eight o’clock
8時
はちじ
9:00
(21:00)
Ku ji
nine o’clock
9時
10:00
(22:00)
Juu ji
ten o’clock
10時
じゅうじ
11:00
(23:00)
Juuichi ji
eleven o’clock
11時
じゅういちじ
12:00
(24:00)
Juuni ji
twelve o’clock
12時
じゅうにじ
How to Say “o’clock” in Japanese

Han (半) – How to Say “Half Past” in Japanese

There are two phrases you can use to say “half past” in Japanese. The more common and easier one is adding the word for “half” which is han (半) after the time: “___ ji han” (〇〇時半). But you can also say “30 minutes” which is sanjuppun (30分) in Japanese and similar to “It is ___ thirty” in English.

  • It is half past 1: Ichi ji han (1時半) or Ichi ji han desu (1時半です)
  • It is 1:30: Ichi ji sanjuppun (1時30分) or Ichi ji sanjuppun desu (1時30分です)
1:30
(13:30)
Ichi ji han
half past one
1時半
いち はん
2:30
(14:30)
Ni ji han
half past two
2時半
はん
3:30
(15:30)
San ji han
half past three
3時半
さん はん
4:30
(16:30)
Yo ji han
half past four
4時半
はん
5:30
(17:30)
Go ji han
half past five
5時半
はん
6:30
(18:30)
Roku ji han
half past six
6時半
ろく はん
7:30
(19:30)
Shichi ji han
half past seven
7時半
しち はん
8:30
(20:30)
Hachi ji han
half past eight
8時半
はち はん
9:30
(21:30)
Ku ji han
half past nine
9時半
はん
10:30
(22:30)
Juu ji han
half past ten
10時半
じゅう はん
11:30
(23:30)
Juuichi ji han
half past eleven
11時半
じゅういち はん
12:30
(24:30)
Juuni ji han
half past twelve
12時半
じゅうに はん
How to Say “Half Past” in Japanese

Juugo fun (15分) – How to Say “A Quarter Past” in Japanese

A quarter past ___” is a very easy expression in Japanese since you just have to add “15 minutes” which is juugo fun (15分 or 十五分) in Japanese.

  • It is a quarter past 1 (casual): Ichi ji juugo fun (1時15分)
  • It is a quarter past 1 (formal): Ichi ji juugo fun desu (1時15分です)
1:15
(13:15)
Ichi ji juugo fun
a quarter past one
1時15分
いち じ じゅうご ふん
2:15
(14:15)
Ni ji juugo fun
a quarter past two
2時15分
に じ じゅうご ふん
3:15
(15:15)
San ji juugo fun
a quarter past three
3時15分
さん じ じゅうご ふん
4:15
(16:15)
Yo ji juugo fun
a quarter past four
4時15分
よ じ じゅうご ふん
5:15
(17:15)
Go ji juugo fun
a quarter past five
5時15分
ご じ じゅうご ふん
6:15
(18:15)
Roku ji juugo fun
a quarter past six
6時15分
ろく じ じゅうご ふん
7:15
(19:15)
Shichi ji juugo fun
a quarter past seven
7時15分
しち じ じゅうご ふん
8:15
(20:15)
Hachi ji juugo fun
a quarter past eight
8時15分
はち じ じゅうご ふん
9:15
(21:15)
Ku ji juugo fun
a quarter past nine
9時15分
くじ じゅうご ふん
10:15
(22:15)
Juu ji juugo fun
a quarter past ten
10時15分
じゅう じ じゅうご ふん
11:15
(23:15)
Juuichi ji juugo fun
a quarter past eleven
11時15分
じゅういち じ じゅうご ふん
12:15
(24:15)
Juuni ji juugo fun
a quarter past twelve
12時15分
じゅうに じ じゅうご ふん
How to Say “A Quarter Past” in Japanese

Yonjuugo Fun (45分) – How to Say “a Quarter to” in Japanese

A quarter to ___” is as easy as the previous expression, since you just have to add “45 minutes” which is yonjuugo fun (45分 or 四十五分) in Japanese. However, when translating from English to Japanese be aware that “a quarter to 1” is actually twelve forty-five (12:45) and therefore juuni ji yonjuugo fun (12時45分).

  • It is a quarter to 1 (casual): Juuni ji yonjuugo fun (12時45分)
  • It is a quarter to 1 (formal): Juuni ji yonjuugo fun desu (12時45分です)
1:45
(13:45)
Ichi ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to two
1時45分
いち じ よんじゅうご ふん
2:45
(14:45)
Ni ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter two three
2時45分
に じ よんじゅうご ふん
3:45
(15:45)
San ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to four
3時45分
さん じ よんじゅうご ふん
4:45
(16:45)
Yo ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to five
4時45分
よ じ よんじゅうご ふん
5:45
(17:45)
Go ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to six
5時45分
ご じ よんじゅうご ふん
6:45
(18:45)
Roku ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to seven
6時45分
ろく じ よんじゅうご ふん
7:45
(19:45)
Shichi ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to eight
7時45分
しち じ よんじゅうご ふん
8:45
(20:45)
Hachi ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to nine
8時45分
はち じ よんじゅうご ふん
9:45
(21:45)
Ku ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to ten
9時45分
く じ よんじゅうご ふん
10:45
(21:45)
Juu ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to eleven
10時45分
じゅう じ よんじゅうご ふん
11:45
(21:45)
Juuichi ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to twelve
11時45分
じゅういち じ よんじゅうご ふん
12:45
(21:45)
Juuni ji yonjuugo fun
a quarter to one
12時45分
じゅうに じ よんじゅうご ふん
How to Say “A Quarter to” in Japanese

Fun (分) – How to Say “Minutes” in Japanese

The Japanese word for “minute/minutes” is fun (分) which can also be pronounced as pun and ppun. When counting minutes there are a lot of exceptions, so read the list carefully. I have marked the exceptions in bold.

0:01Ippun
one minute
1分
いっぷん
0:02Nifun
two minutes
2分
にふん
0:03Sanpun
three minutes
3分
さんぷん
0:04Yonpun (or yonfun)
four minutes
4分
よんぷん (or よんふん)
0:05Gofun
five minutes
5分
ごふん
0:06Roppun
six minutes
6分
ろっぷん
0:07Nanafun
seven minutes
7分
ななふん
0:08Happun (or hachifun)
eight minutes
8分
はっぷん (or はちふん)
0:09Kyuufun
nine minutes
9分
きゅうふん
0:10Juppun
ten minutes
10分
じゅっぷん
0:11Juuippun
eleven minutes
11分
じゅういっぷん
0:12Juunifun
twelve minutes
12分
じゅうにふん
0:13Juusanfun
thirteen minutes
13分
じゅうさんぷん
0:14Juuyonfun
fourteen minutes
14分
じゅうよんぷん
0:15Juugofun
fifteen minutes (a quarter past)
15分
じゅうごふん
0:16Juuroppun
sixteen minutes
16分
じゅうろっぷん
0:17Juunanafun
seventeen minutes
17分
じゅうななふん
0:18Juuhappun
eighteen minutes
18分
じゅうはっぷん
0:19Juukyuufun
nineteen minutes
19分
じゅうきゅうふん
0:20Nijuppun
twenty minutes
20分
にじゅっぷん
0:25Nijuugofun
twenty-five minutes
25分
にじゅうごふん
0:30Sanjuppun
thirty minutes
30分
さんじゅっぷん
0:35Sanjuugofun
thirty-five minutes
35分
さんじゅうごふん
0:40Yonjuppun
forty minutes
40分
よんじゅっぷん
0:45Yonjuugofun
forty-five minutes (a quarter to)
45分
よんじゅうごふん
0:50Gojuppun
fifty minutes
50分
ごじゅっぷん
0:55Gojuugofun
fifty-five minutes
55分
ごじゅうごふん
0:60Rokujuppun
sixty minutes
60分
ろくじゅっぷん
How to Say “Minutes” in Japanese

Byou (秒) – How to Say “Seconds” in Japanese

Byou (秒) is the Japanese word for “second/seconds“. In contrast to the hours and minutes there are no exceptions here, so counting seconds is really easy and straightforward.

0:01Ichibyou
one second
1秒
いちびょう
0:02Nibyou
two seconds

にびょう
0:03Sanbyou
three seconds

さんびょう
0:04Yonbyou
four seconds

よんびょう
0:05Gobyou
five seconds

ごびょう
0:06Rokubyou
six seconds

ろくびょう
0:07Nanabyou
seven seconds

ななびょう
0:08Hachibyou
eight seconds

はちびょう
0:09Kyuubyou
nine seconds

きゅうびょう
0:10Juubyou
ten seconds
10
じゅうびょう
0:11Juuichibyou
eleven seconds
11
じゅういちびょう
0:12Juunibyou
twelve seconds
12
じゅうにびょう
0:13Juusanbyou
thirteen seconds
13
じゅうさんびょう
0:14Juuyonbyou
fourteen seconds
14
じゅうよんびょう
0:15Juugobyou
fifteen seconds
15
じゅうごびょう
0:16Juurokubyou
sixteen seconds
16
じゅうろくびょう
0:17Juunanabyou
seventeen minutes
17
じゅうななびょう
0:18Juuhachibyou
eighteen seconds
18
じゅうはちびょう
0:19Juukyuubyou
nineteen seconds
19
じゅうきゅうびょう
0:20Nijuubyou
twenty seconds
20
にじゅうびょう
0:25Nijuugobyou
twenty-five seconds
25
にじゅうごびょう
0:30Sanjuubyou
thirty seconds
30
さんじゅうびょう
0:35Sanjuugobyou
thirty-five seconds
35
さんじゅうごびょう
0:40Yonjuubyou
forty seconds
40
よんじゅうびょう
0:45Yonjuugobyou
forty-five seconds
45
よんじゅうごびょう
0:50Gojuubyou
fifty seconds
50
ごじゅうびょう
0:55Gojuugobyou
fifty-five seconds
55
ごじゅうごびょう
0:60Rokujuubyou
sixty seconds
60
ろくじゅうびょう
How to Say “Seconds” in Japanese

Overview: How to Tell the Time in Japanese

It’s ___ o’clock
(It’s 1 o’clock)
__ ji desu
(ichi ji desu)
〇〇時です
(1時です)
It’s half past ___
(It’s half past two)
__ ji han desu
(ni ji han desu)
〇〇時半です
(2時半です)
It’s ___ thirty
(It’s three-thirty)
__ ji sanjuppn desu
(san ji sanjuppun desu)
〇〇時30分です
(3時30分です)
It’s a quarter past ___
(It’s a quarter past four)
__ ji juugofun desu
(yo ji juugofun desu)
〇〇時15分です
(4時15分です)
It’s a quarter to ___
(It’s a quarter to five)
__ ji yonjuugofun desu
(yo ji yonjuugofun desu)
〇〇時45分です
(4時45分です)
It’s ___ am
(It’s six am)
Gozen ___ ji desu
(gozen roku ji desu)
午前〇〇時です
(午前6時です)
It’s ___ pm
(It’s seven pm)
Gogo ___ ji desu
(gogo shichi ji desu)
午後〇〇時です
(午後7時です)
Overview of How to Tell the Time in Japanese

Alex (RockinJapanese)

おはよう. I'm Alex. I have started studying Japanese when I was still a high school student and I have been living and working in Japan since 2015. I'm still learning new Japanese phrases and words every day and I thought that publishing them online will be useful for you, too. Hopefully, my study notes and free Japanese lessons will help you to reach the Japanese level you want to have! If you have any questions feel free to contact me anytime! Alex

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