Learn the Numbers from 1 to 10 in Japanese

Author Sandro Maglione for article 'Learn the Numbers from 1 to 10 in Japanese'

Sandro Maglione

7 min reading time

Numbers in Japanese are different from Western languages. Each Japanese number has its own Kanji symbol and different pronunciations based on situation and usage.

Learning numbers in Japanese is important for many situations in everyday life, including:

  • Ask for phone numbers
  • Ask for an address
  • Recognize prices

Today we learn the numbers in Japanese from 1 to 10. For each number we are going to see its respective Kanji, its pronunciations, and its characteristics in different situations.


The number 1 in Japanese ・ 一

The number 1 in Japanese is (いち), which is read as ichi.

As you can see, the number 1 is represented by a single horizontal line. For this reason, this Kanji is one of the easiest to remember.

The number 1 in Japanese is used in many words to mean one or the best / the number one, such as:

  • (いち)(ばん): the best or number one
  • (いち)(): once only
  • (いち)(ねん): one year

The number 2 in Japanese ・ 二

The number 2 in Japanese is (), which is read as ni.

This Kanji adds a horizontal line to the kanji of 1. Two horizontal lines thus indicate the number 2, which also makes this kanji easy to memorize.

Like the number 1 in Japanese, 2 is also used to mean two things / twice, such as:

  • ()(ばん): the second or the number two
  • ()(): twice
  • (いち)(): the first and second

The number 3 in Japanese ・ 三

The number 3 in Japanese is (さん), which is read as san.

As for the kanji of 1 and 2, also for the number 3 in Japanese the kanji is simple, consisting of three horizontal lines.

As with 1 and 2, the kanji of the number 3 is also used to mean three things. Some examples are:

  • (さん)(ばん): the third or the number three
  • (さん)(): three times
  • ()(さん): two or three

The number 4 in Japanese ・ 四

The number 4 in Japanese is (よん), which is read as yon.

This kanji is different than the 1, 2 and 3 kanji. However, this kanji is also pretty easy to remember.

Let's also see some examples of use for the number 4 in Japanese:

  • (よん)(きょう): semifinalists
  • (よん)(): four times
  • (よん)(りん): four wheels

The number 5 in Japanese ・ 五

The number 5 in Japanese is (), which is read as go.

This kanji is also simple and different from the series of kanji 1, 2 and 3.

The kanji of the number 5 in Japanese indicates everything that is composed of 5 parts (such as the 5 senses), and it can also indicate half:

  • ()(かん): the 5 senses
  • ()(ぶん): half or 50%
  • ()(ぎょう): the 5 elements
5 elements Japanese
The 5 elements, which in Chinese philosophy are fire, earth, water, metal and wood.

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The number 6 in Japanese ・ 六

The number 6 in Japanese is (ろく), which is read as roku.

The kanji of the number 6 in Japanese is composed of the radicals:

  • 亠: lid
  • ハ: legs

This kanji also consists of a few strokes and is easy to memorize.

As for the number 5, the number 6 is also linked to different symbolisms:

  • (ろく)(だい): six elements
  • (ろく)(たい): six kanji writing styles
  • (ろく)(どう): six kingdoms (Deva realm, Asura realm, Human realm, Animal realm, Hungry Ghost realm, Naraka realm)

The number 7 in Japanese ・ 七

The number 7 in Japanese is (なな), which is read as nana.

This kanji is made up of two simple strokes. The kanji of the number 7 is itself a radical for many other kanji (such as 切 cut, composed of 七 seven and 刀 katana).

The number 7 in Japanese is also used in several interesting words:

  • (なな)(だい)(しゅう): seven continents
  • (なな)(くさ): seven spring flowers
  • (なな)()()(): seven wonders

The number 8 in Japanese ・八

The number 8 in Japanese is (はち), which is read as hachi.

As with the 7's kanji, the 8's kanji is also made up of two strokes.

Let's see some words that use the kanji of the number 8 in Japanese:

  • (はち)(どう): 8 feudal districts
  • (はち)(): eight legions
  • (はち)(しき): the eight consciences

The number 9 in Japanese ・ 九

The number 9 in Japanese is (きゅう), which is read as kyuu.

The kanji of the number 9 in Japanese has two traits, like the kanji of 8 and the kanji of 7.

There are some interesting terms for the 9's kanji in Japanese as well:

  • (きゅう)()(きつね): the nine-tailed fox
  • (きゅう)(しょう): nine lives (cat)
  • (きゅう)(): summer

The number 10 in Japanese ・ 十

The number 10 in Japanese is (じゅう), which is read as jyuu.

The kanji of the number 10 in Japanese looks like a symbol of the sum (+ and 十). This kanji is also made up of two strokes.

Many Japanese words contain the kanji of the number 10, which is also the basis of many successive numbers:

  • (じゅう)(ぶん): enough
  • (じゅう)(): the cross
  • (じゅう)(だい): teenage (between 10 and 19 years old)

The number 0 in Japanese ・ 零 (Extra)

The number 0 in Japanese is (れい), which is read as rei. We also use to write the number 0 with its counterpart in Katakana ゼロ zero.

The kanji of 0 零 is much more complex than the kanji of the other numbers 1 to 10 in Japanese. The kanji 零 is made up of:

  • 雨: rain
  • 令: orders

Also for the number 0 in Japanese we see some words that contain the kanji 零:

  • (れい)(さい): insignificant
  • (れい)(): zero degrees
  • (れい)(): below zero

You now know all numbers 1 to 10 (plus 0) in Japanese. These numbers are the basis of all the larger numbers, which are formed by a combination of these kanji.

If you want to learn more about their use you can read the post on Japanese numbers and on numeric suffixes.

Thanks for reading.

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