This is an overview over the system of Japanese numbers and higher numerals. The number system in so-called sinospheric languages (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) is based on units of four, while the Hindu-Arab numeral system that is also used in Western cultures is based on units of three. Japanese numerals follow Chinese numerals and are traditionally grouped by 10,000, not by 1,000. Japanese numerals can either be pronounced according to the Japanese reading (訓読み kun’yomi, the native reading) or the Chinese reading (音読み on’yomi).
Also refer to our page on Japanese counters and classifiers.
More on Japanese numerals
Number Character Preferred reading On reading Kun reading 0 零 / 〇 zero rei / れい zero / ぜろ - maru / まる 1 一 ichi ichi / いち hito(tsu) / ひと・つ 2 二 ni ni, ji / に, じ futa(tsu) / ふた・つ 3 三 san san / さん mi(ttsu) / み・っつ 4 四 yon shi / し yon, yo(ttsu) / よん、よ・っつ 5 五 go go / ご itsu(tsu) / いつ・つ 6 六 roku roku / ろく mu(ttsu) / む・っつ 7 七 nana shichi / しち nana(tsu) / なな・つ 8 八 hachi hachi / はち ya(ttsu) / や・っつ 9 九 kyū kyū, ku / きゅう, く kokono(tsu) / ここの・つ 10 十 jū jū / じゅう tō / とお 20 二十 ni-jū ni-jū / にじゅう hata(chi) / はた・ち 30 三十 san-jū san-jū / さんじゅう miso / みそ 100 百 hyaku hyaku / ひゃく (momo / もも) 1,000 千 sen sen / せん (chi / ち) 10,000 万 man man / まん (yorozu / よろず) 100,000,000 億 oku oku / おく - 1,000,000,000,000 兆 chō chō / ちょう - 10,000,000,000,000,000 京 kei kei / けい - 1020 垓 gai gai / がい - 1024 / 秭 jo / shi jo じょ / shi し - 1028 穣 jo jo / じょ - 1032 溝 kō kō / こう - 1036 溝 kan kan / かん - 1040 正 sei sei / せい - 1044 載 sai sai / さい - 1048 極 goku goku / ごく -
- When digits are read out individually, the numerical 0 (zero) can also be pronounced as 〇 (まる maru). The isolated number 0 is called 零 (rei).
- Western counts sets of 1,000 (103 – groups of 3 zeros), while Japanese counts sets of 10,000 (104 – groups of 4 zeros).
- At 10,000 (万), Japanese numbers start with 一 (ichi), if no digit would otherwise precede. Therefore, 100 is just 百 (hyaku), and 1000 is just 千 (sen), but 10,000 is 一万 (ichiman), not just *man.
- For numbers smaller than 1 点 (ten, dot, point, naught) is used. 0.025 would be read as まる、点、まる、二、五。（maru ten maru ni go).
- “Power” is expressed in Japanese with 乗 (jou) –; following the pattern, x の x 乗 — 107 = juu no nana jou = 10の7乗 = ten to the seventh. “Squared” (the second power), is often or usually pronounced ji-jou rather than ni-jou. 22=4, ni o ji-jou suru to yon ni narimasu or ni no ji-jou wa yon desu, two squared is four, the square of two is four.
- Just like other East-Asian countries, Japan is tetraphobe: the number 4 (四 shi) is considered unlucky, as it is a homophone of “death” (死). The number 9, sometimes pronounced ku, is a homophone of “suffering” (苦). Therefore, 49, 94, etc. are also regarded as ill-fated numbers.