Ch.52 Vol.6 | What does Twelve Kizuki and Jogen / Kagen mean in Japanese?

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Welcome to Kimetsu no Japanese, a site for learning Japanese from a manga Demon Slayer.

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Ch.52 Vol.6

Jogen & Kagen (Upper moon & Lower moon)


Twelve Kizuki, it is a kind of title given to only twelve strongest demons. The name “Kizuki” is original in this manga and it sounds very tasteful, you”ll see if you know the meaning. “上弦 (Jogen)” and “下弦 (Kagen)” are also interesting naming using nature phenomenon. Let’s check it!

Lesson 1 | one to six

Please see the upper image from chapter 54.
Before explaining about Jogen (Upper moon), Kagen (Lower moon) and Twelve Kizuki, I want to correct the numbering of them in the image.

Here the kanji (Chinese characters) used for “one” to “six” are old style but unfortunately English translation is completely opposite. (I hope the next revision correct them.)
In this image, from the kanji at the right side, you can count one to six.

usually described “一”
usually described “二”
usually described “三”
usually described “四”
usually described “五”
usually described “六”

Explanation | Writing direction

I suppose the direction of writing (right to left) may have leaded this mistake.

In old days in Japan, when writing horizontally (like advertising display, notice, title of newspaper, etc.) characters were written from right to left like Arabic.
At the same time, words are written vertically too, especially in documents, books and letters, in this case lines are increased from right to left.

Now a days we casually write horizontally from left to right like English, but still for books, manga and lots of documents, words are written vertically.

We don’t have “right to left” written documents these days, but please remember some times Japanese can be read from right to left in old-fashioned way.

Lesson 2 | Jogen, Kagen, Twelve Kizuki

JPN上弦 / 下限 / 十二鬼月
JPN♪jōgen / kagen / jūnikizuki
ENGUpper / Lower / Twelve kizuki
上弦じょうげんjōgenFirst quarter moon (moon phase)
上: upper 弦: string (of bow)
下弦かげんkagenLast quarter moon (moon phase)
下: lower 弦: string (of bow)
the Moon,
a month (example: 1月 (ichigatsu) = January)

Jogen and Kagen, are the word used for a moon phase since old days in Japan.

(Jogen:First quarter moon)
(Kagen:Last quarter moon)

Origin of Jogen and Kagen

We usually call them “Jogen no tsuki (moon of upper string)” and “Kagen no tsuki (moon of lower string)”. The shape of half-moon looks like a string stretched across a bow, that’s why we call Jogen and Kagen.

Why called upper and lower? There some opinions exist.

Reason 1.
There are two half-moon in a month. The FIRST half-moon of the month is called Jogen (Upper), and the LAST one is called Kagen (Lower).

Reason 2.
If the half-moon goes below the horizon with string side up, it’s called Jogen. With the string side down, it’s Kagen.

So when you have a chance to talk with Japanese and Jogen and Kagen are come up in conversation, please mind it could be moon phases, not only demons!

Twelve Kizuki

The author has a great sense. She uses phenomenon of nature for the demon’s rank and naming “kizuki” is also interesting. 十二鬼月 (Twelve Kizuki) literally means “twelve demon moons”.

“Twelve” may be from a number of months. In the upper table of Lesson 2, you see “tsuki” is also “month”. For Japanese, 12 is a little half-way number, we rather like 10 if there is no reason. But if it is from months, it makes sense.

That’s all!

Did you get the meaning of Twelve Kizuki and Jogen / Kagen?

Now you know about not only the kanji meaning but names of moon phases. In Japan, most of moon phase has its own name and it’s one of Japanese culture that tends to name phenomenon of nature which are only slightly different. (so many names for rain and cloud, etc.!)

Thank you for reading.


  1. Berto says:

    no matter what i search i always end up getting 一, rather than 壱 for ichi (one), is this kanji more complex or is it just older??