Counting in Japanese
By Bernard Schenkler (Rev. 4-12-09)
We recite ich, ni, san etc. from memory but we don’t really understand how the Japanese number system works. A basic understanding will help you remember.
First, the basics:
- Ichi - one (drop the final “i” when we count—just say “ ich”(pronounced “each”)
- Ni - two
- San - three
- Chi - four (also, Shi) (use “yon” if it is a prefix- in front of other numbers)
- Go - five
- Roku - six
- Sichi -seven (use “nana” if it is a prefix- in front of other numbers).
- Hachi -eight
- Kyu -nine
- Ju - ten
Chi (Shi) is the number 4. But “4th” is Yon. Thus, a 4th degree black belt is a “Yon Dan” (4th Dan) not a Chi-Dan. Likewise, 7th is “Nanna”. Sensei Byron Marriner is a Nanna Dan, (7th Dan) not a Shichi Dan. But the other numbers remain the same. Thus, a second degree black belt is a Ni Dan.
There are also specific words to describe things. Example: one person is “hitori”. Two people are “futari.” In karate, we generally count the number of push ups or jumping jacks etc, so the simple counting is appropriate.
Ten (“Ju”) becomes the basic number as we go from 11 to 99.
- Ju ichi - 11
- Ju ni - 12
- Ju san -13
- Ju chi - 14 (Since chi is at the end, not beginning, a “yon” is not necessary.)
- Ju go - 15
- Ju roku -16
- Ju sichi - 17 (Since sichi is at the end, not beginning, a “nanna” is not necessary.)
- Ju haji - 18
- Ju kyu - 19
- Ni ju -20
So from 11 to 19, the numbers are 10 + 1, 10 + 2 etc.
Starting at 20, Ni ju means 2 x 10
Ni ju ich 21 means 2 x 10 + 1
Ni ju ni 22 means 2 x 10 + 2
And so on
San ju 30 means 3 x 10
Yon ju 40 means 4 x 10.
Here, since the 4 is at the beginning, we use “Yon.”
Yon ju ich 41 means 4 x 10 + 1
Go ju 50 means 5 x 10
Roku ju 60 means 6 x 10
Nanna ju 70 means 7 x 10
Here, since the 7 is at the beginning, we use “nanna.”
Hachi ju 80 means 8 x 10
Kyu ju 90 means 9 x 10
Kyu ju ich 91 means 9 x 10 + 1
Now we jump to a new number- 100 which is “hya-ku”
Hyaku ichi 101 means 100 +1
Hyaku ju ichi 111 means 100 + 10 + 1
Hyaku ni ju ichi 121 means 100 + 2 x 10 + 1
Hyaku nana ju 170 means 100 + 7 x 10
Now, Hykau become the basic number, so
Ni Hyaku means 2 x 100
But the rules change a little for:
- 300 - Sanbyoku
- 400 - Yanhyaku
- 600 - Ropphyaku
- 700 - Nannahyaku
- 800 - Hopphyaku
- 1000 - Sen
- 1001 - Sen ichi
- 8000 - Hassen
10,000 - 1,000,000
“ Man” is a unit of 10,000. So 10,000 is ichiman 20,000 is niman 100,000 – Juman (10 x 10,000)
10,000 is also used to describe “ a lot” or “many.” If I see 10,000 stars in the sky, I don’t really mean exactly 10,000. I mean a lot of stars. Also, san (3) is sometimes used to describe several and not literally 3. It’s like ordering a couple of donuts. It could be two, three or it could be four.
1,000,000 Hyakuman (100 [hyaku] x 10,000 [man])
Hopefully, you will not be asked to do hyakuman pushups so we’ll stop here.
- Article I. The dojo is where the individual's physical and mental condition is trained.
- A. Believe that there is a God and human beings are his children. (Believe in your own faith, but respect the rights of others to believe in their's.)
- B. Military art (budo) begins with a salute and ends with the same.
- C. Students and teachers bow to the protecting God (kamisama) of Isshinryu and be nice to each other.
- Article II. Devote one's mental concentration and practice sincerely during the course of training.
- Article III. Smoking and drinking are prohibited while training.
- Article IV. Take good care of equipment used in training.
- Article V. Students be respectful to their teachers and teachers be courteous to their students and guide them properly. Juniors/Seniors (Kohai/ Sempai).
- Article VI. Violators of the above codes will be dismissed from the dojo.
Master of all Isshinryu Karate
- A person's heart is the same as heaven and earth.
- The blood circulating is similar to the sun and moon.
- The manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft.
- A person's unbalance is the same as a weight.
- The body should be able to change directions at any time.
- The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself.
- The eyes must see all sides.
- The ears must listen in all directions.