数字=suuji : How to count in Japanese (Beginners~)



=Ohitotsu ikaga desuka?

=Would you like one?

Hi, everyone, It has been over a year since I started this blog. It has been a great pleasure to get to know all the interesting people in the world, and I love reading all the comments and messages. I really appreciate your feedback and support! ありがとう=arigatou, Thank you!!

I have always wondered if all my lessons are the right level. There are so many people! Although I know it is impossible to satisfy everybody — you have different interests and levels — I do aim to please.

Some love manga and want to learn colloquial expressions and others really want to study the more “standard Japanese” and learn things like 敬語=keigo, honorific expressions, grammar patterns or tough words that will help them prepare for the JLTP exams. There are tons of good resources out there. If you want to learn Japanese more systematically, I would say this site may not be the best site for you. I usually make lessons randomly — preferring to focus on things that interest me or things that interest you — like when you send me questions. For that reason, I have been avoiding making lessons for total beginners. However I cannot deny that there have been more and more requests from viewers to make lessons for Japanese newbies. So to satisfy these new Japanese “puppies”, I will try to make more basic lessons from now on. But for those whose level is no longer that of a beginner, don’t worry! I will still try to include stuff that you may be interested in and that you may not have picked up in other “human” texts. So please check out my lessons — even if it says it’s for beginners.


Today we will learn how to count things in Japanese.

Now before I teach you anything, I better warn you! (Play ominous music.) Just in case you didn’t know, one of the most difficult (and some say annoying) things about Japanese is that different shaped things take different counters. I suppose it’s how you use different words to describe different large groups of animals. A pack of French bulldogs is fine, but you can’t say a “pack of fish”, right? You have to say a “school of fish.” Well Japanese counters are similarly limited to object types. Let’s get started.

First of all, when we serve some countable sweets, we say 「お一ついかがですか?」 =Ohitotsu ikaga desuka?

一つ=hitotsu=one piece お一つ=ohitotsu is more polite Would you like a sweet?

OK! Let’s learn Japanese numbers!




4==し、よん=shi, yon  



7==なな、しち=nana, shichi  


9==きゅう=kyuu, ku 


from 11~19 add =じゅう=juu


12= 十二=じゅうに=juuni


14=十四=じゅうし,じゅうよん=juuyon juuyon



17=十七=じゅうなな,じゅうしち=juunana, juushichi


19=十九=じゅうきゅう,じゅうく=juukyuu, juuku

from 20 to 90, add =juu

20=二十=にじゅう=ni juu,

30=三十=さんじゅう=san juu,

40=四十=よんじゅう=yonjuu (shijuu),



70=七十=ななじゅう, しちじゅう=nanaju, shichijuu



100==ひゃく =hyaku,

from 100~900, add=hyaku






700=七百=ななひゃく=nana hyaku



937=九百三十七=きゅうひゃうさんじゅうなな=kyuuhayku sanjuu nana

1,000==せん=sen (issen)

2,000=二千=にせん=ni sen

10,000==まん=ichi man

70,000=七万=ななまん=nana man

100,000=十万=じゅうまん=juu man




1,000,000,000,000=沢山=たくさん=takusan=manyjust kidding :lol:

:rrrr: 一兆=iccchou

:kkk: Test! Can you say these numbers? (Check your answers by comparing them with the sound file. )

1) 46

2) 53

3) 17

4) 98

5) 123

6) 761

7) 823


1) yonjuuroku

2) gojuusan

3) juunana (or juushichi)

4) kyuujuu hachi

5) hyaku nijuu san

6) nanahyaku rokujuuichi

7) happyaku nijuu san

How much are these? I will tell you 5 different numbers. Listen and write them down!

1)           2)              3)               4)               5)





1) 35

2) 501

3) 1,627

4) 783

5) 2,378

When we count things we say,

1=一つ = ひとつ = hitotsu

2=二つ = ふたつ = futatsu

3=三つ = みっつ = mittsu

4=四つ = よっつ = yottsu

5=五つ = いつつ = itsutsu

6=六つ = むっつ = muttsu

7=七つ = ななつ = nanatsu

8=八つ = やっつ = yattsu

9=九つ = ここのつ = kokonotsu

10= = とう = tou

To count general 個体 = kotai a piece of material we use = ko

1個 = いっこ= ikko, 2個 = にこ = niko, 3個 = さんこ = sanko, 4個 = よんこ = yonko,5個 = ごこ = goko

6個 = ろっこ = rokko, 7個 = ななこ、しちこ = nanako (shichiko) 8個 = はちこ、はっこ = hachiko (hakko),

9個 = きゅうこ = kyuuko, 10個 = じゅっこ = jukko

Ex.「すみません、このケーキ3個下さい。」(You can say 3つ = mittsu)

= Sumimasen. Kono keeiki sanko kudasai.

= Excuse me. May I have three of these cakes?

「ごめんなさい。もう2個しか残っていません。」(You can say 2つ = futatsu)

=Gomennasai. Mou niko shika nokotte imasen.

=Sorry. We only have two left.

We count long items like this lolly pop candy, sticks, pencils, yakitori (chicken on skewers) , with = hon/bon/pon

It changes the pronunciation depending on the number. (You can both use kanji or Arabic numbers.)

1本 = いっぽん = ippon, 2本=にほん = nihon,

3本=さんぼん = sanbon, 4本 = よんほん = yonhon,

5本 = ごほ = gohon 6本 = ろくほん,ろっぽん = rokuhon, roppon,

7本 = ななほん/しちほん = nanahon or shichihon,

8本 = はっぽん、はちほん = happon, hachihon, 9本 = きゅうほん = kyuuho, 10本=じゅっぽん = juppon

We also count a roll of pictures or film, movies with =hon

Ex. 今月は映画を4本も観た。

= Kongetsu wa eiga wo yonhon mo mita.

= I saw four movies this month.

If you want a cigarette you say:

Ex. タバコを一本くれる?

=Tabako wo ippon kureru?

= Can you give me a cigarette?

But if you want to buy a box of cigarette, you have to say:

Ex. タバコを一箱下さい。

=tabako wo hitohako kudasai.

= A box of cigarette, please.

So = hako is a unit to count things that come in box shapes.


1箱 = ひとはこ=hitohako, 2箱 = ふたはこ = futahako,

3箱 = さんはこ = sanhako, 4箱 = よんはこ = yonhako,

5箱 = ごはこ = gohako 6箱 = ろくはこ、ろっぱこ = rokuhako,roppako,

7 = ななはこ = nanahako, 8 = はちはこ、はっぱこ = hachihako, happako,

9=きゅうはこ = kyuuhako, 10=じゅっぱこ=juppako

I know the kanji also means “a book”. Do you know how to count books?

Books are counted with the = satsu counter.







7冊=ななさつ,しちさつ=nanasatsu, shichisatsu 

8冊=はちさつ、はっさつ=hachisatsu, hassatsu,



Ex. 図書館で本を3冊借りた。

=Toshokan de hon wo sansatsu karita.

=I borrowed three books from the library.

If you count something flat, a piece of paper, plates, pizza, pancakes, slices of bread, etc, you count them with =mai.

1枚 = いちまい = ichimai 2枚 = にまい = nimai

3枚 = さんまい = sanmai 4枚 = よんまい = yonmai

5枚=ごまい = gomai 6枚 = ろくまい = rokumai

7枚 = ななまい/しちまい = nanamai,shichimai 8枚 = はちまい = hachimai

9枚=きゅうまい = kyuumai 10枚=じゅうまい=juumai


= ichimanensatsu ga ichimai mo nai.

= I don’t have any 10,000 yen bill.


= Kopii juumai totte kueru?

= Can you make 10 copies?

Counting people, = hito, nin, jin

1 person: 一人=ひとり=hitori, 2 people: 二人ふたり=futari,

3 people: 三人=さんにん=san nin , 4 people: 四人=よにん=yonin,

5 people: 五人=ごにん=gonin 6 people: 六人=ろくにん=rokunin

7 people: 七人=ななにん、しちにん=nananin, shichinin (Do you know the Kurosawa movie, 七人の侍 = Shichinin no Samurai)

8 people : 八人 = はちにん=hachinin 9 people: 九人 = きゅうにん、くにん=kyuu nin,kunin

10 people: 十人 =じゅうにん= juunin

Note: お一人様 = ohitori sama means for one person as an honorific expression. People often ask if you are alone when they seat you at a restaurant or a bar asking 「お一人様ですか?= Ohitori sama desuka? = Are you alone? So there is a tour just targeting お一人様”(=Ohitori sama) so it has become a trendy word. We also use =mei to count people. (polite)

Ex. 何名様でいらっしゃいますか?(At the entrance of a restaurant)

= Nanmei sama de irasshaimasuka?

= How many in your party?

Counting age : or =sai=year

1才=issai (or 1歳=issai)…..20才(or 20歳) can be read “nijussai” or “hatachi”

For counting days, go check my time related lesson!

:d: Test time!!!

1) 美味しそう!一(         ) 頂戴!

= Oishisou! hito (      ) choudai!

= Umm looks delicious! Can I have a bite?

2) すみません、お茶/ご飯 もう一(     ) 下さい!

= Sumimasen, ocha / gohan mou i (        ) kudasai.

= Excuse me! May I have another cup of tea/a bowl of rice please?

3) 一日にバナナを1(    ) 食べると体にいいらしいよ。

= Ichinichi ni banana wo 1 (      ) taberu to karada ni iirashiiyo.

= They say it is good for your health to eat a banana a day.

4) 財布の中に1000円札2(         )と1円玉1(   )しかない。

=Saifu no naka ni Sen en satsu ni (       ) to ichiendama  i (     ) no okaeshi desu.

=I only have two ¥1,000 bills and one ¥1 coin in my wallet.

5) コンピュータが1(  )欲しい。

= Konpyuutaa ga ichi (     ) hoshii

= I want a computer.

6) この靴 (or ソックス)を1(   )とスーツを2(    )下さい。

= Kono kutsu (or sokkusu) wo 1 (    ) to suutsu wo ni (    ) kudasai.

= May I have this pair of shoes (or socks) and two suits please?

7)疲れてもう1(             ) も歩けない。

= Tsukarete mou i(          ) mo arukenai.

= I am so tired that I can’t even take “one step“.

8) インドには1(   )も行ったことがありません

= Indo niwa i (           ) mo itta koto gaarimasen. (two answers are possible.)

= I have never been to India.

9) お寿司2(   )お願いします。

= Osushi ni (             ) onegai shimasu.

= Two portions of sushi, please.

10) 犬が3(    )鳥が2(   )象が5(   )います。

= Inu ga san (           ) tori ga ni (       ) zou ga go (        ) imasu.

= There are three dogs, two birds and five elephants.(Where are you!? :roll: )


1) =kuchi

一口=hitokuchi ….口=means “a mouth一口食べる=hitokuchi taberu means to eat a bite.


一杯=ippai : =hai can be read “sakazuki”, a small cup for sake.  We use this unit to count a glass of something (Also it might be confusing but 一杯=ippai has a meaning as “a lot”.)

3) =hon/pon/bon,

1本=ippon :See banana is something long so we use =hon/pon/bon to count

4)=mai :a bill is a piece of paper so we use =mai. And we count coins with =ko


1台=ichidai :When we count a machine or car, we use =dai



=Kuruma ga nidai butsukatta.

=Two cars crashed.

6) =soku/zoku

1足=issoku : means “あし” , foot. We count shoes or socks with =soku/zoku

7)=po, ho, bo

1歩=ippo :I歩も歩けない=Ippo mo arukenai is a set phrase

8)=kai or =do

1回=ikkai or 1度=ichido means once.

9)人前=ninmae→ 2人前=ninnmae :When we count a serving, we use 人前=ninmae

(Note: 一人前=ichinin mae also means to be independent, full fledged)

10) counting animal or fish→ =hiki, birds or rabbits →=wa, ba, pa large size animal =tou

There are more…

Ex.chairs =kyaku,

piece of candy or a grain of rice, tear, rain drop=tsubu,

Additional information from the comment section.

How to count food:

Basically you can count fruits or vegetables with = ko or 一つ=hitotsu, 二つ=futatsu . . .

To be more specific,

if it is something “round” like a ball, you can use “玉”=tama (grapefruit, orange, cabbage, onion, etc.),you use  =fusa for a bunch of grapes or bananas, but if it is one piece of small fruit or a vegetable such as a strawberry, grape, pea, or cherry, you use =tsubu. You use =taba for cauliflower or broccoli. Or bunch of spinach etc.

articles, dishes→hin, shina,

a dish of food=sara,

a slice of pie, cake,pizza切れ(=kire)

chopsticks→If you use them to eat =zen, cooking chopsticks=kumi,


にぎり寿司=nigiri zushi=hand made sushitwo pieces of sushi (or sometimes one piece)→(=kan),

swimming pool=men,

accidents, inquiries, phone calls=ken.

•For live fish we use =hiki, biki, piki as I mentioned above but if it is for food, or =o


Vehicles: Depends on where they are used….

on the road (cars, motorcycles, trucks ) → (dai),

on the railroad (trains, subways) → (ryou),

fixed on the ground (slides or elevator )→ (ki)、

in the ocean or river (ships) (seki)

:jjj: Cultural Note : “Do we like 198?”

First of all, do you know how to pronounce 198?

“hyaku kyuujuu hachi”? No!

“ichi kyuu hachi”? No!

It has a special pronunciation, いちきゅっぱ!=Ichikyuppa!

You can combine with other figure like 298, 398, …598, etc. But the pronunciation is 298=にっきゅっぱ=nikkyuppa! 398=さんきゅっぱ=sankyuppa! 598=ごっきゅっぱ=gokyuppa!< /span> Many stores use this ~98 ending often to attract consumers. If they see the price 2,000 and 1,980 or 20,000 and 19,800 Even if there is a small difference, we think 198 is much cheaper and buy that product.

This is a TV commercial of 缶コーヒーBoss=kankoohii Bosu=caned coffee, BOSS.with 宇宙人ジョーンズ=Uchuujin Jones=Alien Jones.

Try to listen to 198 = ichikyuppa!

(If you are not familiar with this TV commercial go check my 温泉=onsen lesson. I explained why Tom Lee Jones is working everywhere in Japan.


=Kyou kara hataraku Jones san deesu!

=This is Mr.Jones. Today is his first day of work.


=Kono wakusei no juumin wa butsuyoku ni shihai sareteiru.

=The residents of this planet are controlled by materialism.


=Ikiru tame ni hitsuyouna mono nado sonnnani aru hazu ga nai noni.

=We don’t really need so much in order to survive.


=Sumimasen, kore douyatte tsukaun desuka?

=Excuse me. Could you show me how to use this?

(You will hear other staff shouting 1-9-8! 1-9-8!)


=Ominogasi nai you ni, hai, 1-9-8 de gohoushi shiteorimasu.

=Please don’t miss this opportunity. Yes, we are selling these for 1,980 yen!)

「宇宙人だ!」 =Uchuujin da! =Alien!


=Ichikyuppa! Ichikyuppa! Ichikyupp!


=Kono wakusei no juumin wa ichikyuppa ga daisuki da!

=The residents of this planets love 1-9-8!

maggie-senseiFrom Maggie Sensei


=Kono ressun ga shokyuusha no hito nimo joukyuusha no hito nimo yaku ni tateba iikedo.

Now hope this lesson serves for both beginners and advanced students!


=Watashi mo itsumo 1-9-8 de omocha wo kacchaimasu.

=I tend to buy toys at 1-9-8!



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  1. Abou the つcounter, does the japanese still use these readings after 11 or in modern japanese they just say the number itself? 11つ=とおあまりひとつ 12つ=とおあまりふたつ 20つ=はたち 21つ=はたちあまりひとつ 30=みそじ 40=よそじ 50=いそじ 60=むそじ 70=ななそじ 80=やそじ 90=ここのそじ 100=もも 200=ふたお 300= みお 400=よお 500=いお 600=むお 700=ななお 800=やお 900=ここのお 1000=ち

  2. こんにちは先生!私は元気です。Sensei, are you a teacher in real life? Your teaching is amazing. I’m glad that I can study from your site.
    Japanese counting system is the most complicated. I’ll try to understand and practice more on this.. I hope I’ll master this someday.


  3. 先生!!おひさしぶり!元気でしたか? :-D
    I hope you are doing fine and everything is ok.
    I’m so confused about how to count in Japanese. I’m still studying the basics of counting. I didn’t study about how to count thin things and so on. I’ll study them after I’m done with the basics. First of all, I can count until “まん” part, but I amt confused about “おく” I don’t know how to use it… It’s so complicated.. like this following number “150000000”
    I need your help to explain to me and give me examples about this counter..
    ありがとうせんせい。 :-D

    1. @kuroineko


      150,000,000= 1億5千万= Ichioku go sen man

      I know it is hard to figure out how to count when the figure has lots of zeros.
      If there are 6 zeros, it’s 百万=hyakuman = million

      7 zeros,(10,000,000) 1千万=Issen man
      8 zeros, (100,000,000)1億=ichi oku
      9 zeros, (1,000,000,000) 10億=juu oku
      10 zeros, (10,000,000,000) 100億=hyaku oku
      11zeros, (100,000,000,000) 1000億=sen oku
      12 zeros (1,000,000,000,000) 1兆=icchou


    1. @Pinkapple

      Hello!! Pinkapple!
      You can count videos with 本(=hon)

  4. いい勉強になりました。

    「一羽のうさぎ」 と 「一匹のうさぎ」とはどちらが正しいでしょうか。 よく使えられるのは?


    1. @Chandra


  5. I found this site last night– Wow! It’s showed me that I still have a lot to learn… ;; ;; ;;

    But, I’m really happy I found it! It’s helped me so much! あげぽよ~! \(^o^)/

    You’re so informative and I’m learning more that ever! I’ve heard rumors that you were a good teacher. I’m glad I decided to check it out!


    (I hope I got those right. ;;)

    1. @ハリちゃん
      Thank you for finding us!! Check the index and check the lesson you like.
      Feel free to leave a comment or a question anytime.
      これからもよろしくね〜!! :)

  6. Thank you so much for the lesson Maggie sensei. This is the first lesson i checked out but I’m sure to check out more soon. I want to master this first. hihi ^.^

    By the way, do we use mai for counting paper bills too? And what can we use to count coins?

    1. @TJ-chii

      Welcome to our site!
      That’s right. we use 枚=mai=when we count paper bills. Coins are tricky. We both use 枚=mai and 個=ko.

  7. heheh 1-9-8 is such a cute word :) thank u sensei! I think I got it for the most part^^
    so do u count magazines/manga etc with satsu like the books?

    1. @Aki

      Yes you can count magazines/manga with satsu.
      But we also use 巻 (=kan) for a series of manga or books

      第(=dai) + number +巻 (=kan) Ex. 第一巻 = Dai ikkan = Vol 1.

    1. @renato

      Yes, the video might be too fast. (It simply because I’ve tried to include information for all different levels in one lesson. )
      So you are planning to come to Japan? You will learn a lot then.

  8. マギー先生!!


  9. thank you maggie :)
    I had noticed that different counters were used for different things, but i could not work out why. I thought “is there one for fruit? one for non-living things? one for moving things?” now I know, it is shape! wow, I would not have guessed that easily. but now i know ^_^/

    1. @tremault
      Thank you for checking the lesson! Actually there are a lot more…It could depend on the shape, the size, where you use them, for what you use them, how they are made, if it is alive or not, etc.
      (I will add these to the lesson later…)
      Basically you can count fruits or vegetables with 個 = ko or hitotsu, futatsu . . .
      To be more specific, if it is something “round” like a ball, you can use “玉”=tama (grapefruit, orange, cabbage, onion, etc.), you use 房=fusa for a bunch of grapes or bananas, but if it is one piece of small fruit or a vegetable such as a strawberry, grape, pea, or cherry, you use 粒=tsubu. You use 束=taba for cauliflower or broccoli. Or bunch of spinach etc.

      Non-living things:
      Depending on what it is…
      •articles, dishes, 品→hin, shina,
      •a dish of food→皿=sara,
      •a slice of pie, cake→切れ(=kire)
      •chopsticks→If you use them to eat 膳=zen, cooking chopsticks→組=kumi,
      •にぎり寿司=nigiri sushi=hand made hand, two pieces of sushi (or sometimes one piece)→貫(=kan),
      •swimming pool→面=men,
      •accidents, inquiries, phone calls→件=ken.

      •For live fish we use 匹=hiki, biki, piki as I mentioned above but if it is for food, 匹 or 尾=o

      Moving things : vehicles: Depends on where they are used….
      •on the road (cars, motorcycles, trucks ) →台 (dai),
      •on the railroad (trains, subways) →両 (ryou),
      •fixed on the ground (slides or elevator )→基 (ki)、
      •(in the ocean or river) ships→隻 (seki)

      Oh my… it looks very complicated! Hope I didn’t scare you here!

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