Counting in Japanese (2024)

Learn Japanese Numbers and How to Count in Japan

To count in Japan, you have to go beyond learning traditional numeracy, because it all depends on what you want to count. We explain you everything!

Since the Meiji era (1868-1912) and the western influence, Japanese people use both Arabic and Japanese numbers to count. Knowing and knowing how to read the latter is very important in everyday life and can help you avoid any bad surprises when paying the bill in izakaya, traditional Japanese bars!

From 0-10

  • 零 (rei) = 0
  • 一 (ichi) = 1
  • 二 (ni) = 2
  • 三 (san) = 3
  • 四 (yon / shi) 4
  • 五 (go) 5
  • 六 (roku) 6
  • 七 (shichi ou nana) 7
  • 八 (hachi) 8
  • 九 (kyū / ku) 9
  • 十 () 10

From 11-99

To make up the numbers from 11 to 99, you just need to combine the numbers from 1 to 10. For example, the number 11 is the combination of 10 and 1, so 十一 (jū ichi) = 11.

  • 十二 (jū ni) = 12
  • 二十 (ni jū) = 20
  • 三十 (san jū) = 30
  • 五十九 (go jū kyū) = 59

100 and above

  • 百 (hyaku) = 100
  • 千 (sen) = 1000
  • 万 (man) = 10000
  • 十万 (jū man) = 100000
  • 百万 (hyaku man) = 1million
  • 千万 (sen man) = 10 million

Some kanji are easily changed (一 is easily changed into 十). In order to avoid criminal acts, official, legal and financial documents have formal characters in addition called daiji "large characters".

The daiji characters are also found on banknotes. For example, it is written 壱万円 on the 10,000 yen paper bill!

How to count in Japanese

With all these elements, you are almost at the end of your learning! We present you the last original feature to know: the specific counters.

Read also: Grammatical particles in Japanese

The Japanese use a special suffix after the number to count people, animals, objects or to express a duration, an age, or a frequency. This counting system, also used in China and Korea, may seem confusing. In this case, learning is the golden rule!

  • 人 (jin / nin) = People
  • 頭 (tō) = Large animals
  • 羽 (wa) = Birds and rabbits
  • 匹 (hiki) = Small animals (cats, dogs, fish, insects…)
  • 枚 (May) = Fine and flat objects (stamps, sheets ...)
  • 台 (dai) = Technological objects (cars, television ...)
  • 本 (hon) = Long and cylindrical objects (pencils, fingers, trees, umbrella ...)
  • 個 (ko) = Very small objects
  • 着 (chaku) = Clothes
  • 冊 (satsu) = Related objects (books, dictionaries, magazines)
  • 足 (soku) = Objects worn on the feet (socks, shoes ...)
  • 切 れ (kire) = Slices (of cake, bread, ham ...)
  • 杯 (hai) = Liquids contained in containers
  • 錠 (jō) = Pills, capsules, round drugs
  • 軒 (ken) = Buildings
  • 階 (kai) = Floors
  • 番 (ban) = Numbered objects (station platforms, buses)
  • 番 (ban) + 目 (me) = Ranking (1st, 2nd…)
  • 回 (kai) = Frequency (once, twice…)
  • 年 (nen) = Years
  • か 月 (kagetsu) = Month
  • 週 間 (shūkan) = Weeks
  • 日 (ka / nichi) = Days
  • 時間 (jikan) = Hours
  • 分 (fun / pun) = Minutes
  • 秒 (byō) = Seconds
  • 歳 (sai) = Age

Good to know: in case you don't know or forget, you can use the suffixつ (tsu) which acts as a default counter!

Counting in Japanese (2024)


How do you say 1 2 3 4 5 in Japanese? ›

When counting up (0 to 10)
  1. いち (ichi)
  2. に (ni)
  3. さん (san)
  4. し (shi)
  5. ご (go)
  6. ろく (roku)
  7. しち (shichi)
  8. はち (hachi)
May 28, 2022

How do you count over 100 in Japanese? ›

Japanese numbers beyond 100

For numbers between 101 and 199, you need to add the prefix “hyaku.” For example, 112 is “hyaku juu-ni.” Two hundred is two times 100, so you simply have to add 2 (“ni”) before “hyaku.”

Is 4 in Japanese Yon or Shi? ›

The number four (4) is called either “yon” or “shi” in Japanese. In the case of four you can say any of those. But for other words, like “death” (死)that is also pronounced “shi”, you can't change it for “yon”. In other words, “shi” and “yon” are both words that represents the number four.

How to pronounce 1 to 10 in Japanese? ›

Using the Sino-Japanese System
  1. One (1) is 一 (ichi, pronounced "ee-chee").
  2. Two (2) is 二 (ni, pronounced "nee").
  3. Three (3) is 三 (san, pronounced "sahn").
  4. Four (4) is 四 (shi, pronounced "shee"). ...
  5. Five (5) is 五 (go, pronounced "goh").

What do we say 0 in Japanese? ›

"Rei" (零) is the most common way to say "0" in Japanese.

What is 100000 in Japanese? ›

100,000: juu-man 「10万」 1,000,000: hyaku-man (one million) 「100万」

What is 10000 in Japanese? ›

Here is the full list on how to count from 1,000 to 10,000.
7000nana senななせん
8000ha ssenはっせん
9000kyuu senきゅうせん
10000ichi manいちまん
6 more rows
Feb 19, 2018

Is 3 a lucky number in Japan? ›

It is known that Japanese tend to be superstitious. There are certain things or circ*mstances that are uniquely explained sometimes through superstitious beliefs. One of those things are the concept about Lucky Numbers! Did you know that the number 3 is considered as one of the lucky numbers in Japan?

Why is 4 not used in Japan? ›

Traditionally, 4 is unlucky because it is sometimes pronounced shi, which is the word for death. Sometimes levels or rooms with 4 do not exist in hospitals or hotels. Particularly in the maternity section of a hospital, the room number 43 is avoided because it can literally mean "stillbirth".

Is 7 Nana or Shichi? ›

Japanese numbers: 1 to 10
しち / ななsevenshichi / nana
きゅう/くninekyu / ku
6 more rows

Why is counting in Japanese so complicated? ›

This complexity is because Japanese has a complex set of words, known as "counters," used to count different objects and concepts.

What are the Japanese numbers from 1 to 5? ›

To say numbers in Japanese, start by learning the numbers up to 10: ichi (1), ni (2), san (3), yon (4), go (5), roku (6), nana (7), hatchi (8), kyu (9) and juu (10).

How do you say fractions in Japanese? ›

The Fractional Unit

The fractional unit in Japanese is 分 (ぶん, pronounced “bun”), a counter that denotes the part of a whole. When used in fractions, 分 refers to the numerator (the top part of the fraction). For example, in the fraction 1/2, “1” is the numerator, so you would say 一分 (いちぶん, pronounced “ichibun”).

What are the numbers 1 3 in Japanese? ›

Japanese numbers: 1 to 10
し / よんfourshi / yon
6 more rows

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