The moon is full of symbolism, relevant to any culture in the world, and Japanese culture is no exception. In this article, you will discover how to say moon in Japanese, related words, and much more. Let’s dive into it!
How to Say Moon in Japanese: 月 (Tsuki)
月 (tsuki) means “moon” in Japanese. It can be written in hiragana as “つき.”
The kanji (月), however, can have different readings and meanings depending on the context. For example, 月 can also mean “month.”
Let’s look at a few examples of the usage of 月:
(Konya wa tsuki ga kirei ni miemasu.)
You can see the moon clearly tonight.
(Jon san no tanjōbi wa sangatsu muika da to omoimasu.)
I believe John’s birthday is on March 6th.
Different Ways to Read 月: Tsuki / Getsu / Gatsu
As we mentioned, 月 can mean either “moon” or “month.” Almost all kanji have more than one reading. 月 is no exception. The kanji readings of Chinese origin are named on-yomi, while the Japanese readings are called kun-yomi.
- The on-yomi readings for 月 are: がつ (gatsu) and げつ (getsu)
- The kun-yomi reading for 月 is: つき (tsuki)
In most cases, when 月 is read as tsuki, it refers to the moon. On the other hand, when it is read as gatsu or getsu, it usually refers to month. However, there are numerous exceptions, and we will go through some of them in the next section.
Like many other kanji, the kun-yomi reading typically applies when the kanji is read on its own (not together with other characters).
(Suzuki-san to no dēto de dentō o keshi, tsuki no hikari o issho ni tanoshinda.)
During the date with Suzuki, we turned off the lights and enjoyed the moonlight.
Note: When kanji is paired with other characters to form a word, it usually is read using its on-yomi readings:
(Shodō no tenrankai wa hakubutsukan de getsuyōbi ni yatteimasu.)
There will be a calligraphy exhibition in the museum on Monday.
(Naze ka kotoshi wa hachigatsu yori shichigatsu no hō ga atsukatta desu.)
For some reason, this year’s July was hotter than August.
Words Related to the Moon in Japanese
Now let’s look at a few other words related to the moon in Japanese, even those that don’t use the kanji character 月.
- 三日月 (mikazuki): It means “new moon” or “crescent moon.”
- 満月 (mangetsu): Full moon
- 望月 (mochizuki): It also means “full moon,” but in a more poetic way.
- 月食 (gesshoku): Lunar eclipse
- 上弦 (jōgen): Even without the 月 character, it means “1st quarter of the moon.”
- 十六夜 (izayoi): One of my favorites which translates to “sixteen-day-old moon.”
Special Readings of Words Using 月 (Tsuki)
Finally, here we have a couple of interesting words that use special readings for 月:
- 五月雨 (samidare): Early-summer rain.
- 五月蠅い (urusai): Noisy, annoying, loud.
Common Words in Japanese Using 月 (Tsuki)
月 is used to talk about the months of the year. To get the words for any month in Japanese, you only have to write a number from 1 to 12 and then add 月.
- １月 (ichi-gatsu): January
- ２月 (ni-gatsu): February
- ３月 (san-gatsu): March
- ４月 (shi-gatsu): April
- ５月 (go-gatsu): May
- ６月 (roku-gatsu): June
- ７月 (shichi-gatsu): July
- ８月 (hachi-gatsu): August
- ９月 (ku-gatsu): September
- １０月 (jū-gatsu): October
- １１月 (jū-ichi-gatsu): November
- １２月 (jū-ni-gatsu): December
Other Common Words Are:
- 月給 (gekkyū): Monthly salary
- 月極駐車場 (tsukigimechūshajō): A parking lot rented out on a monthly basis
- 月謝 (gessha): Monthly tuition fee
Another special mention is 月曜日 (getsuyōbi), the word for “Monday.”
This one is very interesting. As you can see, Monday uses the kanji for the moon (月) in its name. In English, the word Monday is also closely related to the moon, as it is in other languages, such as Spanish.
Famous Sayings Using 月 (Tsuki)
The famous Japanese writer Natsume Soseki (1867～1916) was a high school teacher in his early days. There’s a story where he taught his students that the most appropriate translation for “I love you” in Japanese would be “月が綺麗ですね,” which translates to “The moon is beautiful.” A fantastic literal allusion, given the appropriate context.
Origins/History of 月 (Tsuki)/Moon in Japanese
Like all the kanji, the actual character is a simplification of what was a pictograph many years ago to represent a concept. This image illustrates the evolution of the character:
Of course, there were many steps, but you get an idea of how the character came to be.