Counting in Japanese

In order to learn to count up to ninety-nine all you really need to know are the Japanese terms for the numbers 1 through 10 – after that it is just a matter of remembering to combine these numbers in a specific sequence to get the desired result.

The numbers from one to ten are pronounced as follows:

one – ichi
two –  ni
three –  san
four – shi
five – go
six – roku
seven – shichi
eight – hachi
nine – kyu
ten – ju

Above ten the numbers are pronounced differently: for example the number 11 in Japanese is translated as "10 plus 1"

eleven – ju ichi
twelve – ju ni
thirteen – ju san
fourteen – ju shi
fifteen – ju go
sixteen – ju roku
seventeen – ju shichi
eighteen – ju hachi
nineteen – ju kyu

Above the number twenty the numbers are again pronounced in a slightly different manner. For example the number 20 in Japanese translates as "2 – 10's" and continuing on therefore, the number 21 would be considered as "2 – 10's plus 1"

twenty – ni ju
twenty one –  ni juichi
twenty two – ni juni

and so on – all the way up to the number 99.

For example the number 56 would be "5 – 10's plus 6" – or – "gojuroku" – the number 61 would then be "6 – 10's plus 1" – or – "rokujuichi" and so on and so on.

The number 100 is pronounced as "hyaku" so counting above 100 is basically just a matter of adding the word "hyaku" in the appropriate place and then following the same general principle for example the number 150 is pronounced as "hyakugoju".

So give it a try, and learn to count with confidence, at least up to the number ten, since you will find that in most dojos the "count" during class will normally only go up to ten, at which point the count usually starts over again at the number one, with this pattern repeating itself as often as maybe required by the sensei or senior sempai.

You just never know, one day you may find that you too are asked to count out loud for the benefit of the rest of the class, at which point being able to do so in Japanese just may make your task that much more interesting, and enjoyable.