Culture of Japan
New Year (Shohgatsu)
Doll's Festival (Girl's Day)
Children's Day
(Tango no sekku)
Star Festival (Tanabata)
Moon Viewing (Tsukimi)
Japanese Christmas
(St. Valentine's Day)
Name of Month
Japanese letters
Write your name in Japanese
Write your name in Kanji
Write your name in Japanese
Find kanji for your name.
Japanese Alphabet
(Iroha Uta)
Japanese Numbers
How many I's do you have?
How many You's are you?
How do you call your wife?

How do you call
your husband?
How do you call
brother and sister?
How Japanese laugh?
Why Japan is Japan?
How Japan became Japan?
Japanese numbers
Japanese Edition

    A few days ago, an access to this this site designating following location was observed.
    At that time, this page did not exist and what he or she saw was probably error message. This incidence motivated me to compose this page. I hope this page meets his or her intention.

    Nowadays, usually used letters for number in Japan are 1,2,3...9,0, but as you know, the traditional style of writing sentences is from top to bottom and then from right to left. In this case, writing numbers by english style is difficult and traditional letters for numbers are used.
    Here are the basic letters for numbers. These are simplified chinese letters. Original letters are not often used.
usualtraditionalold style
 fourshi or yonyottsuyoh
 sevenshichi or nanananatsunaa
 nineku or kyukokonotsukokonotsu
    Why there are business letters ? It is because usual letters are easy to massage for cheating purpose. For example, can be re-written as or and even to or .
    One pronunciation is derived from Chinese pronunciation, and the other is traditional pronunciation of traditional Japanese words that have same meaning.
     All the chinese letters have two way of pronunciation. One is chinese pronunciation and one is the pronunciation for Japanese traditional words that have the same meaning. Often more than two ways of pronunciation are observed. The usual pronunciation for numbers are chinese one. The chinese pronunciations are not really Chinese pronunciation but those what Japanese thought Chinese pronunciation in old times but these pronunciations are said similar to the pronunciation in a local tongue in southern part of China.
    How about zero ? Initially there was no letter for it. No, there is! (very japanese expression. The "no" in this case, denies "no letter for it".) is the Kanji for it (originaly it did not have the meaning of zero). The pronunciation are "rei" or "zero" (apparently english). "rei" is never used in counting. No there is an exception. If I got 0 mark in the exam of math. I say "I got "rei ten(mark or point) at math." "Zero" is used in "Zero fighter" or ("Zero Sen" is the right pronunciation) in the past war. means "fight or war". In traditional style of writing, zero is unnecessary. But nowadays, is used for zero.
    The table at the right shows larger numbers. Notice that every larger numeric unit is ten thousand times of next larger one. It seems that Older Japanese did not counted more than ten millions. The number of Gods in Japan is said 8 millions. (see the page of Japanese Christmas). Probably, it meant the maximum number.
    Noticeable is that large numeric letters are ten thousands times of smaller numeric letters. Though we never do, expressing 12,3456,7890 in stead of 1,234,567,890 would be more easier to read for Japanese.
numeric unitmeaningpronunciation
ten thousandsmanyorozu
100 millionsoku?

    1,234,567,890 is expressed as .
This is the formal style of writing. And more officially or business purpose,
it is expressed as . Anyway here no zero is used
    But nowadays,, and are dropped.
So the expression is
    The pronunciation for these expression is the same. It is jyuh-ni-oku-san-zen-yon-hyaku-go-jyuh-roku-man-nana-sen-ha-ppyaku-kyuh-jyu.
    zen is a liason pronunciation after n sound. ha-ppyaaku is a form of liaison pronunciation for hachi-hyaku.

    2005/May/09 Today I found japanese language learner who probably viewed this page are confused about the use of two pronunciations for some numbers. (At a forum) Indeed, threre is no rule for the choice of the two pronunciations. However I can suggest some. The formal pronunciations for 4, 7, 9 are "shi", "shichi" and "ku". The reason the alternatives are selected is for avoiding misunderstanding. 4 and 7 include the same sound: "shi" and 6 and 9 include also the same sound "ku", and one more 1, 7 and 8 have the same sound "chi". The difference between ichi and sishi is only "s". Therefore when spoken fast, misunderstanding may well happen. When you speak using the formal style, you have to speak slowly. "Death" has the same sound with "shi", so "shi" is sometimes avoided. Especially four persons should not be called "shi nin". But sometimes "yon" is thought too colloquial and if no possibility of misunderstanding "shi" is favored.