Japanese is a fantastic language and if you are interest in studying it, learning to count should be a high priority for you!
Numbers in Japanese aren’t the hardest subject to grasp, but can be tricky to begin with! Don’t worry, with practice and revision, you’ll soon have it mastered!
Just in case you need a refresher on how to read Hiragana, you can refer back to my original post here!
1 = Ichi/一/いち
4= Yon/四/とん (Shi/四/し is another word for four, but it is used less, because Shi also means death, which is written as 死 in Kanji)
7= Shichi/七/しち (Another word for seven is Nana/七/なな. I believe this is because, like the word for four, ‘shi’ is associated with the word ‘Shini/死に/しに’ meaning ‘death’)
9= Kyuu/九/きゅう （Nine can also be Ku/九/く, but this is also thought to be bad luck as Ku also means suffering 苦）
Not too difficult, right? I actually found the Kanji for the numbers some of the easiest to learn. An easy way to revise them is to write the kanji when writing lists, in place of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc you can write 一、二、三、四、and so on. It’s a little more effort, but that practice will help you memorise the kanji!
That’s pretty much the hardest part of learning the numbers, as counting beyond ten is pretty simple.
For example, 11 is Juichi/十一/じゅいち (simply 10 and 1), 22 is nijuni/二十二/にじゅに (Which directly translates as “two ten two”, meaning two tens and two) and 51 is gojuichi/五十一/ごじゅいち (five ten one).
This information will now get you as from 1 to 99
Here I will list the words up to 10,000
100= hyaku 1000= sen
200= nihyaku 2000= nisen
300= sambyaku 3000= sanzen
400= yonhyaku 4000= yonsen
500= gohyaku 5000= gosen
600= roppyaku 6000= rokusen
700= nanahyaku 7000= nanasen
800= happyaku 8000= hassen
900= kyuhyaku 9000= kyusen
Basically, these work the same as the other numbers. The way I think of it is that the numbers go from bigger to smaller. For example, 10,146 is ichimanhyakuyonjuroku/一万百四十六/いちまんひゃくよんじゅろく
It’s a mouthful, but it makes sense!
I hope you learnt something new and exciting in this piece. Next, I will write about the next aspect of counting in Japanese, which is counters! Keep learning and see you soon! Good luck!