How to say time in Japanese

The Japanese word for time.
The Japanese word for time.

The Japanese word for time is jikan and toki. These two words cannot be used interchangeably though. For example, jikan is the most commonly used as it means time in the literal sense with an example being – ‘I will have time to do it later today’. Also, the kanji for jikan – 時間 – when followed by a number functions as a counter for hours.

Toki, on the other hand, means time in a more broader sense. For example, ‘Do we actually experience the flow of time?’. – The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed

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Interesting facts about time in Japan

The Japanese used water clocks since ancient times. It wouldn’t be until the start of the Edo period (mid-1600’s) when Japan made their first mechanical clocks. These clocks were known as wadokei (和時計) and were based on Western mechanical clocks brought to Japan by the first Jesuit missionaries in the 1500s.

The wadokei was an incredible piece of machinery and divided the day and night into 12 time units – 6 for the day and another 6 for the night. Find out more about the wadokei here.

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