Counting in Japanese Part 2: Hundreds and Thousands

In Counting in Japanese Part 1, we talked about the Japanese kanji for the numbers 0-10, and when you are likely to encounter them.

In this part, we look at the multipliers, 100, 1000, and 10,000. We’ll touch on the big one, 100,000,000, at the end for just a bit.

Lets just throw these out there first, and then talk about them.

100 – 百 – hyaku (hiyakoo)

1,000 – 千 – sen (sehn)

10,000 – 万 – man (mahn, like Khan and not sand)

You won’t run into these nearly as much. UNLESS you’re actually constructing large numbers, which we will get into in part 3, where we use all this to actually speak about numbers.

But you’re thinking, “well what about hundred thousands, and millions.”

In Japanese, the accepted way is to use the existing numbers to build them. It goes a counter-intuitive to how we build numbers in the west, more or less using 1,000 as a multiplier. (Thousands, millions, billions, etc.)

Instead, one hundred thousand would be 十万 or “juu man” which is just 10 x 10,000. Like I said we will get into building numbers in the next part.

You will see and hear these used most often in relation to money. Since you will have a 100 yen coin (hyaku-man-en) and one thousand yen bills (sen-en) and ten thousand yen bills (man-en)

Counting bills and prices you’ll hear most often, i.e. “ni-man roku-sen en” or 26,000 yen.

There is a bigger multiplier, oku (ohkoo) 億 but in daily life you rarely run across this. I hear it most often on the news when talking about huge budgets or populations, etc. It means one-hundred-million. Which is a logical progression from sen-man or 1,000 x 10,000, which is simply ten million. It’s the next step up in the multiplier chain. You can then build even high numbers, like a billion (juu-oku) or a trillion (hyaku-oku)

In the next installment on Counting in Japanese, we will construct some numbers, so that you should hopefully be able to speak and understand them. The next lesson after that, we’ll dive into actual counting of “things” which adds another layer onto this still.

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