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Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺)

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    Numbers

    While Arabic (Western) numerals are employed for most uses in Japan, you will occasionally still spot Japanese numerals at eg. markets and the menus of fancy restaurants. The characters used are nearly identical to Chinese numerals, and like Chinese, Japanese uses groups of 4 digits, not 3. "One million" is thus 百万 (hyaku-man), literally "hundred ten-thousands".

    There are both Japanese and Chinese readings for most numbers, but presented below are the more commonly used Chinese readings. Note that, due to superstition (shi also means "death"), 4 and 7 typically use the Japanese readings yon and nana instead.

    Counters

    When counting objects, Japanese uses special counter words. For example, "two bottles of beer" is ビール2本 biiru nihon, where ni is "two" and -hon means "bottles". Unlike in English, where counter words are often optional or non-existent, in Japanese they're mandatory whenever you count something (e.g. 車2台 kuruma ni-dai, two cars; 台 dai counts machines).

    Note how many counters change form depending on the previous number: one, two, three glasses are ippai, nihai, sanbai respectively. There are also a few exceptions: one person and two people are hitori and futari. 20 years old is usually pronounced hatachi. You'll still be understood if you get these wrong though.

    一つ hitotsu

    For numbers from one to nine, an old counting system is often used which applies to virtually any object you may want to count, without the need to attach a specific counter:

    1. 一つ hitotsu
    2. 二つ futatsu
    3. 三つ mittsu
    4. 四つ yottsu
    5. 五つ itsutsu
    6. 六つ muttsu
    7. 七つ nanatsu
    8. 八つ yattsu
    9. 九つ kokonotsu

    It is always a good idea to use a specific counter whenever possible, but using the generic numbers above is often equally acceptable. This system is rarely used anymore for numbers greater than nine.

  • small roundish objects (apples, sweets) -ko
  • people -nin
  • animals -hiki, -biki, -piki
  • flat objects (papers, tickets) -mai
  • long objects (bottles, pens) -hon, -bon, -pon
  • cups, glasses -hai, -bai, -pai
  • nights of a stay -haku, -paku
  • years (age) -sai
  • 1 一つ hitotsu
  • 2 二つ futatsu
  • 3 三つ mittsu
  • 4 四つ yottsu
  • 5 五つ itsutsu
  • 6 六つ muttsu
  • 7 七つ nanatsu
  • 8 八つ yattsu
  • 9 九つ kokonotsu
  • 0 zero
  • 1 ichi
  • 2 ni
  • 3 san
  • 4 yon
  • 5 go
  • 6 roku
  • 7 nana
  • 8 hachi
  • 9 kyū
  • 10
  • 11 十一 jū-ichi
  • 12 十二 jū-ni
  • 13 十三 jū-san
  • 14 十四 jū-yon
  • 15 十五 jū-go
  • 16 十六 jū-roku
  • 17 十七 jū-nana
  • 18 十八 jū-hachi
  • 19 十九 jū-kyū
  • 20 二十 ni-jū
  • 21 二十一 ni-jū-ichi
  • 22 二十二 ni-jū-ni
  • 23 二十三 ni-jū-san
  • 30 三十 san-jū
  • 40 四十 yon-jū
  • 50 五十 go-jū
  • 60 六十 roku-jū
  • 70 七十 nana-jū
  • 80 八十 hachi-jū
  • 90 九十 kyū-jū
  • 100 hyaku
  • 200 二百 nihyaku
  • 300 三百 sambyaku
  • 600 六百 roppyaku
  • 800 八百 happyaku
  • 1000 sen
  • 2000 二千 ni-sen
  • 3000 三千 san-zen
  • 10,000 一万 ichi-man
  • 1,000,000 百万 hyaku-man
  • 100,000,000 一億 ichi-oku
  • 1,000,000,000,000 一兆 itchō
  • 0.5 〇・五 rei ten go
  • 0.56 〇・五六 rei ten go-roku
  • number _____ (''train, bus, etc.'') _____番 ____ ban
  • half 半分 hambun
  • less (few) 少ない sukunai
  • more (many) 多い ōi

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