Japanese Lesson 22 – Way of counting things (3)

This is the third page that I introduce the way of counting things in Japanese.

In Japan, the metric system is used for the unit of length and weight.
Of course, The notation is conformed to the international standard, but we read with Japanese pronunciation.

Unit of length


“Meter” is pronounced as “meetoru” in Japanese.

1,000 meters = 1 kilometer : “kiro-meetoru” in Japanese
0.01 meters = 1 centimeter : “senchi-meetoru” in Japanese
0.001 meters = 1 millimeter : “miri-meetoru” in Japanese

The pronunciation in above yellow parts are changed for smooth speaking.

Because Japanese language is based on vowel, long word tends to be shortened.
So we often omit the part of “meter” in “kilometer”, “centimeter” and “millimeter”.

Unit of weight


“Gram” is pronounced as “guramu” in Japanese.

1,000 grams = 1 kilogram : “kiro-guramu” in Japanese
0.001 grams = 1 milligram : “miri-guramu” in Japanese

As the unit of 1,000 kilograms, “ton” is used.
“Centigram” is never used.

“Miri-guramu” is used without omission, but “kiro-guramu” is often used as omitted “kiro”.
It is quite the same as “kiro” of length unit, but it is easy to understand which unit word was spoken.

Units of Yard-Pound System used in Japan

In Japan, only a few units of Yard-Pound System are used in limited situation.

> yard = for length of golf course
> inch = for size of TV screen

And, “mile” (about 1.6 kilometers) is known as distance for mileage service of airline.

Units of speed

Speed is expressed by distance traveled per unit time.


In English, the unit of time is added after expression of distance. (e.g. 100 kilometers per hour)
But, in Japanese, the unit of time is put before expression of distance.

100 kilometers per hour (100 km/h) = jisoku hyakkiro
60 meters per minute = funsoku rokujuu meetoru
5 meters per second = byoosoku go meetoru

Units of volume

The below units are used frequently.
There is no changing of sound by connecting number and unit word.


“Goo” is used to measure the amount of rice and Sake (Japanese rice wine).
1-goo is about 180 milliliters.

Heehoo and Rippoo

For size of area, “heehoo” is added before the unit of length.
And for size of volume, “rippoo” is added before the unit of length.

A meter square is “heehoo meetoru”.
A cube one meter on each edge is “rippoo meetoru”.

“Heehoo” is mainly used in the topic about houses and lands, and “rippoo” is used in the topic about pool and big water tank.

In addition, “aaru” (are = 10 meters square) and “hekutaaru” (hectare = 100 meters square) are often used to express the size of lands.


Joo – Unit of size for tatami room

In Japanese-style room, tatami mats are laid on the floor.
A tatami mat has a rectangle shape and is about 180 by 90 centimeters.
The size is called as “1(ichi)-joo”.
The number of tatami mats is recognized as the size of Japanese-style room.

In most houses, 4.5-joo, 6-joo, 8-joo are the common sizes of the room.
In 4.5-joo room, a half size of tatami mat is used.
In Japanese-style hotel, we can stay in wide room such as 12-joo or 16-joo.

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