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Home > Language > Counting in Japanese
by J. Akiyama <Send E-mail to Author>

Counting in Japanese is actually really easy.

In order to count up to 99, all you need to know is the Japanese terms for 1 through 10.

  • one = ichi
  • two = ni
  • three = san
  • four = yon (or shi)
  • five = go
  • six = roku
  • seven = nana (or shichi)
  • eight = hachi
  • nine = kyu
  • ten = jyu

Above ten, we would say something to the effect of "10 and 2" to stand for "12." Therefore,

  • 11 = "ten (and) one" = "jyu ichi"
  • 12 = "ten (and) two" = "jyu ni"
  • 13 = "ten (and) three" = "jyu san"
  • 14 = "ten (and) four" = "jyu shi" or "jyu yon"
  • 15 = "ten (and) five" = "jyu go"
  • 16 = "ten (and) six" = "jyu roku"
  • 17 = "ten (and) seven" = "jyu nana" or "jyu shichi"
  • 18 = "ten (and) eight" = "jyu hachi"
  • 19 = "ten (and) nine" = "jyu kyu"

For numbers from 20 through 99, you would say something like "3 tens and 6" to mean "36." Therefore,

  • 36 = "3 tens and 6" = "san jyu roku"
  • 43 = "4 tens and 3" = "yon jyu san"
  • 71 = "7 tens and 1" = "nana jyu ichi"
  • 99 = "9 tens and 9" = "kyu jyu kyu"

Counting higher is basically the same.

  • 100 = "hyaku"
  • 1000 = "sen"
  • 10000 = "man"

So,

  • 101 is "hundred (and) one" = "hyaku ichi"
  • 201 is "two hundred (and) one" = "ni hyaku ichi"
  • 546 is "five hundred (and) four tens (and) six" = "go hyaku yon jyu roku"
  • 3427 == "san zen yon hyaku ni jyu nana (or shichi)" (note that "sen" becomes "zen" after a voiced consonant line "n")
  • 23456 = "ni man san zen yon hyaku go jyu roku"

Some anomalies:

  • Use "shi" for "four" only in the single digit column. So, you can use "shi" or "yon" in 3654, but use "yon" for 40, 400, 4000, etc.
  • Use "shichi" for "seven" only in the single digit column. So, you can use "shichi" or "nana" in 9607, but use "nana" for 70, 700, 7000, etc.
  • 600 = "roppyaku" (not "roku hyaku")
  • 800 = "happyaku" (not "hachi hyaku")
  • 8000 = "hassen" (not "hachi sen")

So now you know how to count way above 10,000. Just in time for counting out all those bokken suburi, huh?

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