Do Chinese and Japanese Share Months?

The Chinese and Japanese cultures exhibit a myriad of similarities and differences, with language, traditions, and customs serving as defining factors in their respective identities. When it comes to the division of time, both cultures follow distinct systems that have evolved over centuries. While the Gregorian calendar serves as the international standard for tracking dates, the Chinese and Japanese still place significance on their lunar-based calendars. These calendars diverge in various aspects, including the way months are organized and named. Despite some similarities in terms of lunar cycles, the Chinese and Japanese calendars portray unique month systems that reflect their individual cultural influences, making for a fascinating exploration of their shared yet distinct approaches to timekeeping.

Do Japanese Use the Chinese Calendar?

One fascinating aspect of Japanese culture is it’s historical connection to the Chinese calendar. Numerous traditional holidays in Japan are rooted in the ancient Chinese lunar calendar, which was renowned for it’s division into 24 seasons. While some names of these seasons have been lost over time, a handful of terms such as risshun (the first day of spring) and geshi (the summer solstice) remain well-known. These seasonal markers hold significant cultural value and continue to resonate with many Japanese people.

However, it’s important to note that Japan also follows it’s own unique calendar system, known as the Gregorian calendar, which was adopted from the Western world. This calendar is widely used in everyday life, such as for business, government, and personal affairs. It’s important to distinguish between the two calendars, as they serve different purposes within Japanese society.

For instance, Golden Week, an important holiday period in Japan, is based on Shōwa Day, which was originally Emperor Hirohitos birthday according to the Gregorian calendar. Yet, it coincides with several ancient Chinese festivals, including Qingming Festival and Duanwu Festival, which are celebrated in Japan as well.

Furthermore, the Chinese zodiac is also commonly recognized in Japan. Each year in the Chinese zodiac cycle is associated with an animal sign, such as the Year of the Rat, Ox, Tiger, and so on.

The History and Significance of the Chinese Lunar Calendar in Japan

The Chinese lunar calendar has influenced the traditional calendar systems used in many East Asian countries, including Japan. However, the Japanese calendar has evolved and diverged from it’s Chinese counterpart over time.

In ancient times, Japan adopted the Chinese lunar calendar, known as the lunisolar calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. This calendar system divides the year into 12 months, with each month beginning on the day of the new moon. In addition, the calendar includes intercalary months to ensure alignment with the solar year.

Throughout history, the Japanese calendar underwent modifications to better suit the unique cultural and agricultural practices of Japan. One significant change was the adoption of a solar calendar called the Gregorian calendar in 1873, following Western influence.

Although both Chinese and Japanese calendars are still influenced by the phases of the moon, they don’t completely align. Currently, Japan follows a modified version of the Gregorian calendar while also retaining some traditional elements from the lunisolar calendar. The names of the months in the Japanese calendar differ from those in the Chinese lunar calendar, reflecting the distinct cultural context of Japan.

Overall, while the Chinese lunar calendar has had an impact on the development of the Japanese calendar, the two calendars have diverged over time, each with their own unique characteristics and cultural significance.

The difference between Japanese and Chinese New Year lies in the counting of days and the duration of the celebrations. While the Japanese refer to the Lunar New Year as “new year” and count it as the first lunar month, the Chinese consider their Spring Festival as the first day of the year, starting from the 1st day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Unlike the single-day observance of the Japanese, the Chinese Spring Festival spans over multiple days of festivities.

What Is the Difference Between Japanese and Chinese New Year?

Chinese and Japanese New Year may have similarities, but they also have significant differences. One key distinction lies in the naming convention. While the Japanese refer to the Lunar New Year as simply “new year,” the Chinese recognize it as the Spring Festival, which kicks off on the first day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The Chinese New Year festivities extend for several days, making it a more extended celebration compared to the Japanese New Year.

The Chinese Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year, is a time of reunion and family gatherings. It’s deeply rooted in Chinese culture and traditions, with activities like vast firework displays, dragon parades, and lion dances being a common sight. The festive spirit is palpable, with red decorations adorning homes and streets symbolizing good luck and warding off evil spirits. People exchange red envelopes containing money as a gesture of good fortune.

Japanese New Year, on the other hand, known as “Shogatsu,” is celebrated with a series of customs and rituals. Additionally, the Japanese pay special attention to cleaning their homes, known as “Osoji,” to prepare for the fresh start of the new year. Furthermore, the Japanese hold a tradition called “Hatsumode,” where they visit Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples to make wishes and offer prayers for prosperity in the coming year. This visit often takes place during the first three days of the new year.

While both Chinese and Japanese New Year celebrations involve delicious feasts, the specific dishes served vary greatly. In China, it’s customary to have a reunion dinner on New Years Eve, with various traditional dishes such as dumplings, fish, and sticky rice cake known as “Nian Gao” being must-haves on the menu. In Japan, a popular New Years dish is “Osechi Ryori,” which consists of an assortment of colorful and neatly arranged small dishes symbolizing good fortune, health, and happiness in the new year.

Traditions and Customs of Chinese New Year

  • Red lanterns
  • Dragon and lion dances
  • Fireworks
  • Family reunion dinners
  • Giving red envelopes with money
  • Spring cleaning
  • Wearing new clothes
  • Decorating homes with auspicious symbols
  • Visiting temples
  • Exchanging gifts

The adoption of the lunisolar Chinese calendar by Japan in the sixth century marked the beginning of a long history of Japanese calendar systems influenced by Chinese traditions. Over time, Japan developed it’s own unique variations of the Chinese procedures. From 1685 onwards, these distinct Japanese calendar calculations became the foundation for determining dates and events within the country.

Is the Japanese Calendar Same as Chinese?

The question of whether the Japanese calendar is the same as the Chinese calendar is quite complex. It’s true that the lunisolar Chinese calendar was introduced to Japan through Korea in the sixth century. This means that there are certainly similarities between the two calendars, especially in terms of the basic principles they follow.

After the introduction of the Chinese calendar, Japan started to calculate it’s own calendar using various Chinese calendar procedures. However, over time, they developed their own unique variations of these procedures. These Japanese variations were put into practice from 1685 onwards.

Both calendars are based on a lunar-solar system, combining the movements of the sun and the moon to determine the length of a year. Both also divide the year into 12 months. However, there are differences in how these months are calculated and named.

For instance, while the Chinese calendar uses the traditional Chinese names for the months, the Japanese calendar incorporates native Japanese names for certain months. Additionally, the Japanese calendar also includes leap years to adjust for the slight discrepancy between the lunar and solar calendars.

In terms of practical applications, the Japanese calendar is primarily used for ceremonial and cultural purposes. On the other hand, the Chinese calendar is still widely used in China for both traditional and official purposes.

History of the Japanese Calendar Explore the Timeline of How the Japanese Calendar Evolved From It’s Introduction in the Sixth Century to It’s Current Form.

The Japanese calendar has a long history that dates back to the sixth century. It was originally based on the Chinese lunar calendar, which had a twelve-month cycle.

Over time, the Japanese calendar underwent several changes and adaptations. In the 19th century, Japan shifted to the Gregorian calendar, similar to the one used in many countries today.

Despite the influence of the Chinese calendar, there are some differences between the two. For example, while both calendars have twelve months, the names of the months in Japanese differ slightly from those in Chinese. Additionally, Japan has it’s own unique way of counting years.

Today, the Japanese calendar is widely used in the country for day-to-day activities, such as official documents and holidays. It’s also often printed alongside the Gregorian calendar in daily life.

The Gregorian calendar is currently used in Japan, alongside year designations that indicate the Emperor’s reign. However, it’s worth noting that Japan has had a history of using different calendar systems, both official and unofficial, throughout the years.

What Calendar Does Japan Use?

The traditional Japanese calendar, known as the Kōki, was in use for many centuries before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. It was based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar and divided time into cycles of twelve years, each named after an animal from the Chinese zodiac. This calendar system determined not only the months but also the timing of festivals, agricultural events, and other important occasions.

In 1873, Japan officially adopted the Gregorian calendar, which is widely used around the world. This change brought the Japanese calendar in line with that of many other countries and facilitated international communication and trade. However, even after the switch, the Japanese continued to use the traditional era name system, known as nengō, to designate years. Each emperors reign was given a name, and the year was identified by the corresponding era name.

For example, as of 2021, Japan is in the Reiwa era, which began in May 2019 with the ascension of Emperor Naruhito. So, instead of saying “2021,” Japanese people would refer to this year as “Reiwa 3.”. This system of counting years based on imperial reigns has deep historical significance in Japan and is still used in official documents, calendars, and everyday conversation.

While the Japanese calendar is now synchronized with the Gregorian calendar, remnants of the traditional lunisolar calendar can still be seen in certain cultural practices and festivals. For instance, the dates for some annual events, such as Setsubun and Cherry Blossom Festival (Hanami), are still determined by the lunar calendar. Additionally, the twelve animal zodiac signs continue to be popular in Japan, with many people identifying themselves with the characteristics associated with their zodiac sign.

The unique combination of both calendars adds to the richness and distinctiveness of Japans cultural heritage.

The History of the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar in Japan: Explore the Origins and Development of the Traditional Japanese Calendar System Based on the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar.

The history of the Chinese lunisolar calendar in Japan dates back more than a millennium. The early Japanese calendar system was influenced by the Chinese calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar based on both the phases of the moon and the movement of the sun. The Japanese adopted this calendar system and made modifications to suit their own cultural and agricultural needs.

The Chinese calendar was introduced to Japan during the 7th and 8th centuries, along with various other aspects of Chinese culture. At that time, Japan was heavily influenced by Chinese political, religious, and intellectual ideas. The Japanese ruling class saw the Chinese calendar as a sophisticated and advanced system, and so they adopted it for their own use.

However, as time went on, the Japanese calendar gradually diverged from it’s Chinese origins. The Japanese made adjustments to reflect their unique cultural practices and agricultural traditions. For example, they added their own traditional events and holidays to the calendar, such as the important Shinto festivals.

Today, the Japanese calendar still retains some remnants of it’s Chinese roots. The names of the months and the numbering system are similar to the Chinese calendar, although there are variations in pronunciation. However, the specific dates for holidays and events may differ due to Japan’s cultural influences and historical developments.

Overall, while the Chinese and Japanese calendars share a common origin and some similarities, they’ve evolved independently over time. The Japanese calendar system has been shaped by it’s own unique cultural and historical factors, making it distinct from the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Source: In the West we use the Gregorian Calendar. What’s …


The differences arise from historical, cultural, and linguistic factors that have shaped their respective societies. While both calendars have their unique features and importance in the Chinese and Japanese cultures, it’s evident that the shared months between them are limited.

Scroll to Top