Japanese Numbers 1-10
There are two main ways of writing the numbers in Japanese, Hiragana (which gives the pronunciation of the number) or Kanji (which is the number or numerical form). It is like writing the word or pronunciation for the number (nine) or giving its numerical form (9). It is quite common to see the Arabic* numerical form in writing (1, 2, 3, etc.) however they will be said in Japanese … 1 = ichi.
* Yes, those numbers we use in English (1, 2, 3 …) are actually called (Western) Arabic numerals.
Japanese Numbers 1-10 in Hiragana
The Hiragana form of a number is the “word or pronunciation” form of it (e.g. one, two, three…)
The numbers from 1 to 10 in Japanese in Hiragana are:
- いち ( ichi ) – 1
- に ( ni ) – 2
- さん ( san ) – 3
- し ( shi ) … or … よん ( yon ) – 4
- ご ( go ) – 5
- ろく ( roku ) – 6
- しち ( shichi ) … or … なな ( nana ) – 7
- はち ( hachi ) – 8
- きゅう ( kyuu ) … or … く ( ku ) – 9
- じゅう ( juu ) – 10
We will look at why there are two names for the numbers 4, 7 and 9 in the section unlucky numbers below.
Japanese Numbers 1-10 in Kanji
The Kanji form of a number is the “numerical” form of it (e.g. 1, 2, 3…)
- 一 ( ichi ) – 1
- 二 ( ni ) – 2
- 三 ( san ) – 3
- 四 ( shi / yon ) – 4
- 五 ( go ) – 5
- 六 ( roku ) – 6
- 七 ( shichi / nana ) – 7
- 八 ( hachi ) – 8
- 九 ( kyuu ) – 9
- 十 ( juu ) – 10
Random fact you didn’t need to know: The characters used for the numbers 1 to 10 in Japanese written in Kanji are the same characters/numbers used in Chinese? Of course, their names and the way they are pronounced are completely different.
Unlucky numbers in Japanese
You know how the number 13 is considered unlucky in English, well, there are different numbers that are considered unlucky in Japanese… the numbers 4 and 9.
You will notice that there are two words for the number 4 in Japanese: し (shi) and よん (yon).
One reason that Japanese people prefer using よん (yon) is because し (shi) has the same pronunciation as 死 (shi) which means death. That is why the number 4 is considered unlucky in Japanese culture.
You will rarely see items being sold in packs of 4 because it is like selling “a pack of death.” Items will often come in packs of 5 or 6.
Since the number 7 is called しち (shichi) and contains し (shi) in it, which is unlucky, you will often hear なな (nana) used instead.
Yet another random fact you didn’t need to know: I actually learned the numbers from 1 to 10 in Japanese when I took karate lessons (many moons ago). When doing repetitions of certain punches or kicks, we used SHI and SHICHI when counting without a problem.
く ( ku ) 9 is considered unlucky because it can also mean something along the lines of suffering or agony. This is why きゅう (kyuu) is used more.
How to say zero in Japanese
The easiest way to say zero in Japanese is:
- ゼロ (zero) – 0 (Hiragana)
Yes, it sounds almost the same as zero in English.
You may also see or hear the following which is more formal:
- 零 ( rei ) – 0 (Kanji)
Sometimes you may read or hear:
- マル ( maru ) – 0 (Hiragana)
How do you say the word Number in Japanese?
数字 = number (numeral)
数字 is pronounced すうじ (suuji)
日本語の数字 = Japanese numbers
Japanese Numbers 1-10 Summary Chart (Hiragana & Kanji)
CHART COMING SOON!