How to count time in Japanese

How to count seconds in Japanese

Time in Japanese is “時間(じかん)”. To count “時間” in Japanese, we use units such as “秒(びょう)”, “分(ふん)”, and “時(じ)”

First let’s start studying the counter for seconds; “秒(びょう)”. Take a look at the pronunciation chart below.

Number Japanese Reading
1 一秒 いちびょう
2 二秒 にびょう
3 三秒 さんびょう
How many 何秒 なんびょう


There are no changes on how you read “秒” and therefore it is an easy counter for Japanese beginners to learn.

How to count minutes in Japanese

Now let’s look at the unit for minutes; “分(ふん)”. As you can see below, the unit for minutes has an irregular way of reading “分” according to the number. They can be read as ふん and ぷん. Note that there are some number of minutes that can be called in two different ways.

Number Japanese Reading
1 一分 いっぷん
2 二分 にふん
3 三分 さんふん/さんぷん
4 四分 よんふん/よんぷん
5 五分 ごふん
6 六分 ろっぷん
7 七分 ななふん/しちふん
8 八分 はっぷん/はちふん
9 九分 きゅうふん
10 十分 じゅっぷん
11 十一分 じゅういっぷん
12 十二分 じゅうにふん
100 百分 ひゃっぷん
How many 何分 なんぷん/なんふん

How to count hours in Japanese

The unit for hours; “時(じ)” does not have an irregular way of counting same with the unit for seconds.

Number Japanese Reading
1 一時 いちじ
2 二時 にじ
3 三時 さんじ
How many 何時 なんじ


By using these units the time can be expressed. When you are asked 今何時ですか(What time is it?)you should be able to answer the questions if you have mastered the units.

Usually kanji is not used when we write sideways in Japanese, but only for the example it is written in kanji for you to learn.

Ex)3:45 → 三時四十五分 (さんじよんじゅうごふん)

午後(ごご) means PM(ごぜん) and 午前 is AM in Japanese. In Japnanese 午前 and 午後 must be written before the numbers. The casual way to express if it is AM or PM is by saying 朝の(あさの)for AM and 夜の(よるの)for PM. 朝 means morning and 夜 means night in Japanese.

Ex)17:49:23 → 十七時四十九分二十三秒(じゅうしちじよんじゅうきゅうふんにじゅうさんびょう) OR 午後五時四十九分二十三秒 (ごぜんごじよんじゅうきゅうふんにじゅうさんびょう)

11:54 → 十一時五十四分(十一時五十四分 OR 午前十一時五十四分)

When you are talking about time and want to say “something- thirty” you can use 半(はん)instead of saying 三十分. 半 means half.

Ex)1:30 → 1時半

How to count duration in Japanese

The unit for hours is 時間(じかん). This might seem to be weird for you since 時間 means time like it says in the first sentences of this article. For 時間 there is only one way to read as well.

Number Japanese Reading
1 一時間 いちじかん
2 二時間 にじかん
3 三時間 さんじかん
How many 何時間 なんじかん


The units for “時間(じかん)”is very important and useful so please take time when remembering.