When is your birthday?


Before you learn how to ask and say when your birthday is, you need to learn how to say the dates.


月, がつ, is a kanji that represents ‘month’. Refer to the kanji section for other meaning and readings. Saying the months of the year is extremely simple in Japanese.

Number + 月 = Month of the Year

Following the above formula, January, which is the 1st month of the year is 一月(いちがつ).

  1. 一月
  2. 二月
  3. 三月
  4. 四月(がつ)
  5. 五月
  6. 六月
  7. 七月(しちがつ)
  8. 八月
  9. 九月(がつ)
  10. 十月
  11. 十一月
  12. 十二月


Dates work similarly in writing.

日,にち, is used to mean day. Therefore, the first day of the month is written as 一日, second,  二日, third, 三月 and so on. Then, 二十四日 represents the 24th day of the month.

However, these combination of kanji are not read the same way and require you to memorise a rule. Use the following hints to help you remember!


Can't you see I'm busy?
Chew it!-tachi



Who’s car?


Me car!





It’s car.


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freeimages.co.uk techonology images


Your Car


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Numbers beyond 10th

From 11th to 31st of the month, you use the normal number system with 日(にち).

Number + にち

In other words, 11th is 十一日(じゅういちにち), 25th, 二十五日(にじゅうごにち).

20th, 二十日, はつか.

Except for 14th and 24th of each month, which are read as 十四日(じゅうよっか)and 二十四日(にじゅうよっか)respectively.


Practice saying all the dates of the month. Sing along to the song below.


Days of the week



When is your birthday?

おたんじょう日 (birthday)

お is used as an honorific device to refer to another person’s birthday politely. DO NOT use this for your own.

We now know how to say the month of the year, a date and days of the week.
In order to say for someone’s birthday, use the following structure:

おたんじょう日 (1) いつ (2) です 。or

おたんじょう日 (1) 何月何日 (2) です

(1) Topic
(2) Interrogative/Question word

More examples:

  • オーストラリアデーは いつですか。
  • きょうは 何月何日ですか。

When responding, you do not need to mention たんじょう日 or the relevant topic again. Just state:

Month and Date + です。

In Japanese, you provide the largest unit before the smaller ones.
I.E. Year, Month, Date


  • 一月五日です。
  • 五月二十日です。



  1. Make your own mnemonics for dates from 1st to the 10th of each month.
  2.  Use the interactive calendar to revise the months, dates and days of the week.
    Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 9.38.35 pm
    Click image to access the interactive calendar.


  3. Alternatively, use the interactive calendar.
  4. Go to http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/explore/calendar/april.html
    Using the Kids Web Japan site, find out when these events occur throughout the Japanese calendar and answer the questions below. Write your answers in Japanese.

a) From what month does the Japanese schools start?
b) When do you go ‘flower watching’?
c) When is the ‘Golden Week’?
d) Write down the date of the Children’s Day.
e) In which month are the school excursions and picnics held?
f) During which months is the ‘flooding season’?
g) What is on 七月七日?
h) When is summer holidays?
i) When is the anniversary of the end of WWII

Topic 1 Unit 3 Expand!

Learn about how Japanese people celebrate their birthdays.

Learn more about Japanese National holidays and Special days for celebration.

Children’s Day – 5 May

Thi was originally the Boys’ Festival Day. For a few weeks around this date, colourful wind socks, each made in the form of a carp, and coloured streamers are raised on poles. The streamers at the top of the pole blow out in the wind, and below them are usually several carp attached on under the other. The carp was chosen as a symbol for boys, because of its strength and courage. It can swim up fast streams and jump waterfalls without wavering.

This is one holiday in what the Japnese call 「ゴルデンウィーク」, ‘Golden Week’ – a week with four holidays! (See below)

ひなまつり, known as the Doll’s Festival or Girls’ Festival – 3 March


On this day, girls display a group of dolls on a set of steps. On the top step are the Emperor and Empress. Below them are ladies in waiting, courtiers, musicians and warriors. All the dolls are very elaborately clothed and are fully equipped with detailed miniature musical instrument, weapons and other such artefacts of ancient times. They are displayed pieces and are handled with the greatest care, rather than being dolls in the sense of cuddly toys.

The girls invite each other to their homes, have cakes, dress up in their best clothes, and for that day are the most important members of the household. After a few weeks, the dolls are taken down from their stand, carefully wrapped, and stored away for the next year, and sometimes for next generation.

National holidays in Japan

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day
  • 2nd Monday of January – Coming-of-Age Day
    Everyone who turns 20 in that year is invited to a civic ceremony to celebrate becoming an adult. The girls are dressed up in beautiful expensive kimonos. The men wear business suits.
  • 11 February – National Foundation Day
  • 21 March – Vernal Equinox Day
  • 29 April – Showa Day (from 2008)
    This day used to be the previous Emperor’s birthday
  • 3 May – Consitution Memorial Day
  • 4 May – Greenery Day (from 2008)
  • 5 May – Children’s Day
  • 3rd Monday of July – Marine Day
  • 3rd Monday of September – REspoect-for-the-Aged Day
  • 23 September – Autumn Equinox Day
  • 2nd Monday of October – Sports Day
  • 3 November – Culture Day
  • 23 November – Labour Thanksgiving Day
  • 23 December – Emperor’s Birthday

Topic 1 Unit 4: Talking about Birthdays


By the end of this unit, you will:

  • enhance your understanding of the Japanese national holidays,
  • enhance your understanding of how Japanese people celebrate birthdays,
  • be able to ask and say when your birthday is,
  • be able to talk about what you will do and did for your birthday and
  • be able to invite someone to do an activity with you.


  1. Expand!
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Kanji
  4. When is your birthday?
    (Months, Dates and Days of the Week)
  5. Understanding verbs
  6. What will you do on your birthday?
  7. Would you like to come to my birthday party?

Not getting lost when using Japanese public transport

By now, you know how to reserve and purchase a ticket for any type of transport in Japan. However, as you may have heard already, public transport in Japan can be confusing and difficult to understand especially if you are not local. Therefore, this section will equip you with some essential phrases to make sure that you DO NOT get lost!

What time does the train come?

(http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ is a useful website to find out transport times)

Trains run regularly on major city lines and are extremely reliable.


The above shows what a timetable for an interstate trip may look like. However, if you are unable to find this information, you may want to ask the station officers when the next train is.

Q: つぎの東京行き何時ですか。

Possible Responses

A: 11時です。
A: 11時に(なりたくうこうを)出ます。
A: 11時にしゅっぱつします。


If you want to know when the train would arrive at the destination.

Q: この電車は大阪何時につきますか。

Possible Responses

A: 大阪に10時40分につきます。
A: 10時40分にとうちゃくします。


Which platform?

Now you know what time the train will leave, you need to get to the correct platform to get on the train. Unfortunately, you won’t find Platform 9 3/4 in Japan, unless if you go to Universal Studio Japan (USJ) in Osaka.


How do you ask which platform you need to get to?

Q: Place行きは何ばんせんですか。
A: 〜ばんせんです。

For example:

A: よこはま行きは何ばんせんですか。
B: 1ばんせんです。11時半にしゅっぱつします。


So you get to Platform 1 and see a train waiting to leave, but are unsure if this is the right one.

Q: この電車はよこはまへ・に・まで行きますか。

Possible Responses:

A: はい、行きます。
A: いいえ、行きません。つぎの電車にのってください。


Use the following timetable to practice.

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 7.00.08 pm.png

  1. Decide where you are in Japan and what time it is.
    (ie. I’m in Nagoya and it’s 12 noon.)
  2. Decide where you are going.
  3. Ask a language partner (a native speaker or a learner), a station officer,
    a) how much it would cost,
    b) when’s the next train,
    c) what time it leaves the station,
    d) what time it’ll arrive at the destination,
    e) which platform the train leaves.


Fun Fact!

Not only is it difficult to travel on public transport, it is extremely difficult to find the the most convenient exit to get to your destination even if you have arrived at the right station.

Making Reservations

In order to express your desire to make a  reservation for basically anything, you should use 〜をよやくしたいんですが…

Remember, we’ve learnt that 〜が… is often used to omit the latter part of speech as the implication is clear, yet you may not wish to make direct statements.

For example:


The above sentence suggests that you’d like to reserve a return ticket to Kyoto and what is omitted is that you are expecting or requesting them to help you purchase the ticket without being too direct.


In this sentence, although not always common, it could also be suggested that the speaker is wanting to know the price for a first class seat.


Use the phrase to start the conversation at the きっぷうりば (ticket office) and continue with the expressions you have learnt in the section on buying a ticket.

Let’s watch the following videos to hear the dialogue you may have when reserving flight tickets or seats.