“Moon” in Japanese – Understanding Its Meanings and Usage

In this lesson, we’ll learn how to say “moon” in Japanese. We’ll also know different words and vocabulary related to the moon.

Moon surrounded by clouds and stars

When we look up at the sky, there is always the moon. In the West, the moon sometimes represents negative images, but Japanese people have been fascinated by the moon since ancient times.

Do you know how to read in Japanese? If not, this article has romaji versions of the vocabulary to help you out. However, we encourage you to learn Japanese alphabet so you can read the words in hiragana and katakana, too.

Let’s get started!

How to Say “Moon” in Japanese

The Japanese word for moon is つき (tsuki). You can write “moon” in Japanese in Kanji 月. The Kanji character originates from a hieroglyph for the crescent moon.

It has three meanings, “the satellite of the earth,” “a satellite orbits a planet,” and “months of the year.”

  • つき (tsuki | 月) — moon, month
  • おつきさま (otsuki sama | お月様) — moon

Also, the Katakana word “muun” is one of the”borrowed” foreign words from English that are commonly used.

  • ムーン (muun) — moon

Kanji Radical for Moon and Its Different Usage

In the Japanese language, the Kanji 月 (tsuki) has various Kanji readings and related words.

Here’s an example of regular Kanji and words related to the moon in Japanese.

  • つき (tsuki)
    • つきみ (tsukimi | 月見) — moon-viewing
    • つきたんさ (tsuki tansa | 月探査) — exploration of the Moon
  • づき (Zuki)
    • みかづき (mikazuki | 三日月) — crescent moon
    • たんじょうづき (tanjouzuki | 誕生月) — birth month
  • げつ、げっ (getsu, ge)
    • げつようび (getsu you bi | 月曜日 | Monday)
    • げっこう (gekkou | 月虹) — moonbow
  • がつ、がっ (gatsu, ga)
    • おしょうがつ (oshougatsu | お正月) — new year
    • ねんがっぴ (nengappi | 年月日) — date
  • がち (gachi)
    • がちりん* (gachirin | 月輪) — moon, full moon*

*It’s read in different ways, such as げつりん (getsurin) or つきのわ (tsuki no wa).

Additionally, here are examples of irregular reading words that use the Kanji characters like 月 (Tsuki) for the moon.

  • 海月 (kurage | くらげ) — jellyfish
  • 五月雨 (samidare | さみだれ) — early-summer rain
  • 五月蝿い、煩い (urusai | うるさい) — noisy, annoying

These Japanese words show how the character 月 (Tsuki) is versatile and can be used in various contexts beyond its standard Kanji readings.

Japanese Common Words with Kanji for Moon

Probably, Japanese words for the autumn moon-viewing custom are well-known among Japanese learners, but there are more words that come in handy in daily conversations.

  • おつきみ (otsukimi | お月見) — moon-viewing
  • じゅうごや (juugoya | 十五夜) — full moon night
  • さいげつ (saigetsu | 歳月) — time
  • せんげつ (sengestu | 先月) — last month
  • こんげつ (kongetsu | 今月) — this month
  • らいげつ (raigetsu | 来月) — next month
  • まいつき (maitsuki | 毎月) — monthly
  • かくげつ (kakugetsu | 隔月) — bimonthly
  • げっしょ (gessho | 月初) — beginning of the month
  • げつまつ (gestumatsu | 月末) — end of the month
  • げっきゅう (gekkyuu | 月給) — monthly salary
  • げっしゃ (gessha | 月謝) — monthly tuition fee
  • つきぎめちゅうしゃじょう (tsukigimechuushajou | 月極駐車場) — monthly parking
  • りんげつ (ringetsu | 臨月) — the last month of pregnancy
  • げっけい (gekkei | 月経) — menstruation

The Kanji for Moon as a Counter

The Kanji characters like 月 for the moon are also used as a counter.

  • いっかげつ 、ひとつき (ikkagetsu, hitotsuki | 1か月、一月) — one month
  • にかげつ、ふたつき (nikagetsu, futatsuki | 2か月、二月) — two months
  • さんかげつ、みつき (sankagestu, mitsuki | 3か月、三月) — three months
  • いっかげつはん、ひとつきはん (ikkagetsu han, hitotsuki han | 1か月半、一月半) — a month and a half
  • はんつき (hantsuki | 半月) — half a month*
  • なんかげつ (nankagetsu | 何か月) — how many months
  • すうかげつ (suukagetsu | 数か月) — a few months

*It can also be はんげつ (hangetsu | 半月) — half moon, so pay attention to the context.

Lunar Phases of the Moon

In casual speeches, the lunar phrase is called つきのみちかけ (tsuki no michikake | 月の満ち欠け), and it literally means “the moon’s waxing and waning” in Japanese.

  • しんげつ (shingetsu | 新月) — new moon
  • みかづき (mikazuki | 三日月) — crescent moon
  • じょうげんのつき (jougen no tsuki | 上弦の月) — first quarter moon*
  • まんげつ (mangetsu | 満月) — full moon
  • かげんのつき (kagen no tsuki | 下弦の月) — last quarter moon*
  • げっこう (gekkou | 月講) – lunar calendar

*They are simply called はんげつ (hangetsu | 半月 | half moon) as well.

Here are some common Japanese words to describe the moon and sun phenomena.

  • げっしょく (gesshoku | 月食) — lunar eclipse and にっしょく(nisshoku | 日食) — solar eclipse
  • げっこう (gekkou | 月光) — moonlight and にっこう (nikkou | 日光) — sunlight
  • げつうん (getsuun | 月暈) — moon halo and にちうん (nichiun | 日暈) — sun halo

Poetic Names for the Moon

In Japanese poetry or literature, a word describing the full moon refers to time, different seasons, or weather.

  • ありあけのつき (ariake no tsuki | 有明の月) — the pale morning moon
  • せんげつ (sengetsu | 繊月) — the delicate crescent moon before and after sunset
  • ちゅうしゅうのめいげつ (chuushuu no meigetsu | 中秋の名月) — the mid-Autumn full moon
  • おぼろづきよ (oborozukiyo | 朧月夜) — the hazy moon in clouds at spring night

FUN FACT: The Color of the Moon

Did you know Japanese children often draw the sun in red or orange? Similarly, there are differences between Western and Japanese cultures in the representation of moon colors.

  • つき (tsuki | 月) — moon → yellow, white, and light orange
  • たいよう (taiyou | 太陽) — sun → red, orange
  • ちきゅう (chikyuu | 地球) — earth → blue and green

If you’d like to learn more about colors like these and how to say them in Japanese, here’s where to go.

Wrap up

Learning how to say and write “moon” in Japanese and knowing its meanings and usage helps language learners. It allows us to connect in different situations, improve communication skills, and appreciate the language and Japanese people more.

Have you learned some interesting words in Japanese today? I’m curious to know which part of the article about the moon caught your attention! Let me know in the comments below!

がんばってください (ganbatte kudasai)! ^^

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