Japanese Lesson 18 – Reading of number (1) [Integer]

The notation of number is universal, and Arabic numerals are used in Japan too.
And it is able to be written in kanji character.

Let’s learn reading of number in Japanese.
The first step is basic integer.

Reading of number in Japanese is based on the decimal system since ancient times.
English and some other European languages retain the traces of the duodecimal system and the vigesimal system.
But Japanese is based on the decimal system completely.

So you have only to memorize nine basic numbers and the names of digit.

From 1 to 10, and zero


These are most basic numbers. Please remember all of them.

2 (ni) and 5 (go) are the words of short syllable, so they are often pronounced as long sound like “nii” and “goo” to express clearly.

Each of 4, 7 and 9 has two readings.
Left readings (yon, nana, kyuu) are the normal ones.
Right readings (shi, shichi, ku) are sometimes used only when the number is put independently.
If you think learning both readings is too much trouble, it is OK to learn only the left readings.

About 0, both “zero” and “rei” are used.
0 was discovered in ancient India, then was introduced to the west and the east.
“Zero” is the reading from Europe and “rei” is the reading from China.
Therefore, “zero” is always used independently, but there are some kanji words in which “rei” is wrapped as a part.

From 11 to 20


From 11 to 19, the reading is the combination of juu (10) and the number of the one’s place.

20 is the combination of ni (2) and juu (10).
In a sense, “juu” is the name of the ten’s place and the number is put before it.
The same rule is carried out in the following places.

From 21 to 30


The above rule is applied.
The reading of number is always done from higher digit.

Until 100


Until 100, the same rule is applied.

39 = sanjuu-kyuu / sanjuu-ku
68 = rokujuu-hachi
77 = nanajuu-nana
(Usually, “nana” and “shichi” aren’t used at the same time.)

Until 1,000


The name of the hundred’s place is “hyaku”.
But the words above yellow parts (300, 600, 800) are changed for smooth pronunciation.

125 = hyaku-nijuu-go
868 = happyaku-rokujuu-hachi

The digit with 0 isn’t read.

407 = yonhyaku-nana
930 = kyuuhyaku-sanjuu

Until 10,000


The name of the thousand’s place is “sen”.
The words above yellow parts (3000, 8000) are changed for smooth pronunciation.
About 1000, we read almost simple “sen”. But “issen” connecting ichi (1) and sen (1000) is sometimes used as the explanation in the next section.

3776 = sanzen-nanahyaku-nanajuu-roku
5302 = gosen-sanbyaku-ni
4050 = yonsen-gojuu

Large number

You have already been able to read the numbers from 0 to 9,999 in Japanese.
This means that you can read larger numbers easily.

I show a 16-digit number.


This is sectioned at sectioning positions into groups of 4-digit.
You can read the number in each group as a 4-digit number and it is OK to add the word on the upper side of the group after the number.
“Man” means 10,000, “oku” means 100,000,000, and “choo” means 1,000,000,000,000.

18,675 = ichi-man-hassen-roppyaku-nanajuu-go
5,730,412 = gohyaku-nanajuu-san-man-yonhyaku-juuni
84,652,116,383 = happyaku-yonjuu-roku-oku-gosen-nihyaku-juuichi-man-rokusen-sanbyaku-hachijuu-san

Now, the very large number of above example figure is read as the following.


Probably, when you visit Japan, you rarely if ever use such large number.
I think you use the number until the range of “man” at most.
Millionair treats the money of “oku” and Japan’s national budget treats the range of “choo”.

In addition, when you look at the large price, most of them are rounded.
I think you need not read such boring long number.

¥35,800 = san-man-gosen-happyaku yen
¥280,000 = nijuu-hachi-man yen

(Yen is Japanese currency, and the symbol is “¥”.)

When the number of the thousand’s place in the group of “man”, “oku”, and “choo” is “1”, we often use “issen”.
Especially, 10,000,000 is almost certainly read as “issen-man”.

The position of comma is put every 3 digits

Number is read every group of 4 digits in Japanese.
But the notation of number in Japan is every 3 digits. It is the same as many countries in the world.
Therefore, when you look at the large prices, you must pay attention to translate into Japanese.

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