Compared to English, Japanese has a variety of words that indicate a few days before and after today. This article presents a comprehensive list of those words as well as relevant expressions to them!
1. Words for the Future
1. 明日 (あした, ashita): tomorrow
2. 明後日 (あさって, asatte): two days after today
3. 明々後日 (しあさって, asatte) three days after today
4. やのあさって (yanoasatte): four days after today
Note that the last word “やのあさって” is not a common word, and in some dialects, different words are used.
2. Words for the Past
1. 昨日 (きのう, kinou/さくじつ, sakujitsu): yesterday
昨日 has two different readings “きのう” and “さくじつ”; the former is more common, and the latter is usually used in writing.
2. 一昨日 (おととい, ototoi/おとつい, otostui): two days before today
3. 一昨昨日 (さきおととい, sakiototoi): three days before today
Note that the last word “一昨昨日” is rarely used.
1. 今日 (きょう, kyou): today
2. 今日 (こんにち, konnichi): today, nowadays, these days, at the present time
As in 昨日(きのう/さくじつ), 今日 has two readings: “きょう (kyou)” and “こんにち (konnich)”, with the former much more common. The latter reading is often used in writing and describes not only “today”, but also “nowadays”, “these days” and “the present time”.
At the present time when social media has become prevalent, we can obtain various information for free.
(Trivia) The Japanese greeting “こんにちは”, which is usually written in hiragana, can also be written as “今日は” in kanji, although it’s rarely used. It is said to be an abbreviation of “今日はご機嫌いかがですか” (How are you today?) or something similar.
3. 本日 (ほんじつ, honjitsu): today
本日 is often used in a formal context, e.g., when you announce today’s opening hours of your shop, or when you show gratitude to people for attending your gathering.
Today‘s opening hour is until 7 pm.
I sincerely thank you all for coming here today.
4. 昨今 (さっこん, sakkon): nowadays, these days, recent years
昨今 is a formal word that means “nowadays” and “recent time”. It is a synonym of 今日 (こんにち), and they are mostly interchangeable; the small difference is that while 今日 (こんにち) roughly describes the present time, 昨今 rather describes a recent period of time, including the recent past.
What do you think about the recent financial markets?
5. 今時 (いまどき, imadoki): recent(ly), nowadays, today
今時 usually describes recent trends and atmosphere in comparison to the past. In particular, it is often used to describe young people from older people’s perspective. It is also used when you indicate that something too old-fashioned and very rare.
Today‘s young people cannot use keigo (honorific speech) properly.
Is there actually anyone today who doesn’t have a smartphone?
It’s so crazy that you don’t know Netflix at the present time.
(Note) As in the following sentence, 今時 is also used to describe something trendy, but despite its meaning, this usage rather sounds old-fashioned (to my ears).
I went to a trendy, fashionable café yesterday.
6. 今日日 (きょうび, kyoubi)
今日日 is a slightly old-fashioned word, but it is still used especially in the Kansai area. It is a synonym of 今時 and often used when you emphasise that something is unusual at the present time.
Today (At this present time), there won’t be anyone who hasn’t used a laptop.
Today, nobody says “mengo”
(めんご (mengo): an old-fashioned word for ごめん (gomen) meaning “sorry”; See ザギンでシースー: Japanese “Reverse” Slang Words From 1980s)
Related Expression1 おととい来い・来やがれ
おととい来い (ototoi koi) or おととい来やがれ (ototoi kiyagare) literally means “Come here two days ago”, and it figuratively means “Don’t come here again” in a furious tone. One of the theories about its origin relates it to the fact that it is no longer possible to come here two days ago. Note that this is an old-fashioned phrase which you may see only in Anime/Manga.
Related Expression2 明後日の方向
Literally, 明後日の方向 (あさってのほうこう, asatteno.houkou) means “the direction of the day after tomorrow”. This idiom metaphorically indicates in an ironic manner that something goes in the completely wrong and unpredictable direction. See the post below for more explanations: