Japanese weekdays

In the Japanese class last week we learned weekdays (曜日). So it’s basically sun, moon, fire, water, wood, gold and earth from Sunday to Saturday. Then it triggered me thinking – why the elements are arranged in that particular order? Especially on the matter of humanity, anything should come with some rationale, culture or an indication of personal preference.

My first thought was it was derived from Chinese ‘five basic elements’ which is normally remembered in sequence of gold, wood, water, fire and earth; maybe add yin and yang which is moon and sun to make it 7. Now that I write it I am amazed by myself here. If I had lived in that time it would have been a different system altogether. Well I guess I had to be a king or queeen or something to make it happen⁄(⁄ ⁄ ⁄ω⁄ ⁄ ⁄)⁄…But anyway that doesn’t really make much sense and most importantly doesn’t help me memorise it. 

So what else? The first clue is that 日曜日 is a calque of Sun Day, and 月曜日 is for Moon Day (like Monday). A less obvious sign is 土曜日 is a calque of Saturn Day (so Saturday). All three examples just matched the the days in week respectively. Well it would be much easier if 火曜日 is Marsday or 水曜日 is Mercuday but then the game is less fun isn’t it. The rest of the days actually are still matching those stars but in English it’s derived from the God of those stars, or to be specific, the God of those stars in old English. They can be lined up as below in the order of Japanese days -> Latina day -> God of that planet in old English -> English:

  • 火曜日 -> Mars Day -> Tiw -> Tuesday
  • 水曜日 -> Mercury Day -> Woden -> Wednesday
  • 木曜日 -> Jupiter Day -> Thor -> Thursday
  • 金曜日 -> Venus Day -> Frige -> Friday

Now that I write this, I realise that it makes perfect sense only when you link fire to Mars and water to Mercury. Hmmm well as a Chinese speaker I took it for granted as that’s how we refer to the planets.V(^_^)V Well if you don’t know those Kanji before? On a positive note, by memorising the weekdays, you also learned how to speak planets (as if it makes a lot differences hehehhe…)!

Take a breath and have some ramen! ♪───O(≧∇≦)O────♪

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