Japanese Language Blog

How to tell time in Japanese – Part 2 Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Culture, Grammar


So, I am hoping most of you had a chance to read my last article that talked about how to tell time in Japanese. If you were new to the topic, I hope you had a chance to learn a little bit about it. Related to my last article, here is a bit more complicated expression about time. Below I have collected some useful and most often used ones.



In English, we often say, “10 till 4” or “ 5 till 6”, etc. In Japanese, we have a similar way of saying this, and here are some examples for you.


10 till 7 (10 minutes before 7 o’clock)  Hichi ji jyu pun mae (7じ 10ぷん まえ)

** Note: 7 can be said either “Hichi” or “Shichi”.

5 till 8 (5 minutes before 8 o’clock) Hachi ji go fun mae (8じ 5ふん まえ)


Notice that in Japanese, the numbers are flipped. “mae” above mentions “till” or “before”.



~after ~

10 after 4 (10 minutes after 4 o’clock) Yo ji jyu pun sugi (4じ 10ぷん すぎ)

Quarter after 7 (15 minutes after 7 o’clock)  Hichi ji jyugo fun fun sugi (7じ 15ふん すぎ)


Notice that the order of the numbers are again flipped in Japanese. “sugi” here means “after”.


Half ~ 30 minutes ~

For 8:30 or 9:30 etc, there are two major ways of saying this in Japanese..

  • Using “Han (半、はん)”   11:30 will be “Jyuichi ji han” (11じ はん)
  • Using “30 pun(Sanjyu pun)”  The same 11:30 can be also expressed as “Jyuichi ji San jyu pun” (11じ 30ぷん)

Both of these are commonly used, so it will be good to know both ways.



AM is “Gozen(午前、ごぜん)” in Japanese

PM us “Gogo(午後、ごご)” in Japanese

In formal letters or conversations, it is often used such as,

“Meeting will start at 10 am tomorrow”

This will be,

“Kaigi wa asu gozen 10 ji ni hajimarimasu.” (会議は 明日、午前 10時に 始まります。かいぎは あす ごぜん 10じに はじまります。)


If you get a good understanding of these expressions mentioned in this article as well as my previous one, you are all set for telling time in Japanese. 🙂


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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.


  1. Phillip Birch:

    I don’t know about American English, but in British English, a native speaker would interpret
    “10 till 7” to mean “from 10 o’clock to 7 o’clock”,
    NOT “10 minutes before 7 o’clock”.
    E.g. The store is open from 10 ’till 7″.

    To say “10 minutes before 7 o’clock” we would say “The time is now 10 to 7”.