An Introduction to Japanese Numbers

Welcome to another Japanese Grammar lesson! Today we will give a short but efficient introduction to Japanese numbers.

Numbers are one of the first lessons you will learn in class, so we created this page for you to visit if you ever need to review some of your knowledge, or have a look at a number you forgot how to pronounce!

Make sure to save this page, and visit our Japanese Grammar Bank for more lessons like this one.

Japanese Numbers | From 1 to 10 (+Kunyomi & Onyomi)

Japanese Numbers | Zero in Japanese

Japanese Numbers | Numbers Beyond 100

Japanese Numbers | Exceptions

Japanese Numbers | Big Numbers

Japanese Numbers | FAQ’s

Japanese Numbers – Kunyomi and Onyomi

Kanji is used to indicate numbers have Kunyomi and Onyomi.

Kunyomi is the Japanese pronunciation of a Kanji character while Onyomi is a pronunciation derived from Chinese where Kanji originated. 

The native Japanese reading, which is kunyomi or “kun reading” is used only up to ten numbers. Hence, you are more likely to use Sino-Japanese reading which is Onyomi or “On reading”. 

Before understanding the difference between kunyomi and onyomi, first let’s get familiar with the numbers. Master the numbers up to 10 by practicing them continuously so you can easily count beyond 10.

In this guide, we are going to learn numbers in Kanji followed by their pronunciation in kunyomi and onyomi.

NumberKanjiNative Japanese Reading (Kunyomi)Romaji of KunyomiSino-Japanese reading (Onyomi)Romaji of Onyomi
4よっーつYottsuし、よんShi, Yon
7ななーつNanatsuしち、ななShichi, Nana
9ここのーつKokonotsuく、きゅうKu, Kyuu



Japanese Numbers – The Pronunciation of Zero

For 0, the kanji is 零 with pronunciation れい (rei). However, it is commonly used the same way it is used in English.

0 is commonly used as ゼロ (zero in Katakana script of Japanese language).

Sometimes, it is also referred as マル (maru) which translates to “circle”. It is used like “oh” is used instead of “zero” in English when reading individual digits of a number.

Once you master counting up to 10, counting beyond 10 becomes much easier to learn. You just have to keep compounding and adding.

Let me show you an example: 11 is 十一 

If you refer to the above table, you can easily notice that it is a combination for Kanji used for 10 and Kanji used for 1.

To pronounce the number, you just have to add the Sino-Japanese reading of both the numbers, in this case 10 and 1. 

The pronunciation of 11 (十一) is じゅういち (Jyuu-ichi).

Following the exact same rule: the pronunciation of 15 is じゅうご (Jyuu-go).

For numbers beyond 19, all you need to do is count the 10s (two 10’s, three 10’s and so on) and then add the next number.

The pronunciation of 20 (二十) is にじゅう (Ni-jyuu).

Following this rule: 47 is 四十七. The pronunciation of 47 is よんじゅうしち (Yon-jyuu-shichi).

Japanese Numbers Beyond 100

For numbers beyond 100, just count the 100’s, count the 10’s and then add the next number.

459 is 四百五十九, pronounced as よんひゃくごじゅうきゅう (Yon-hyaku-go-jyuu-kyuu).

For numbers beyond 1,000, you have to follow exact same procedure. Count the 1000’s, count the 100’s, count the 10’s and then add the next number.

If there is a no number in the middle, for example, a number with a zero in it, you just have to skip the counting for that part.

For example: 2022 is 二千二十二.

The pronunciation of 2022 is にせんにじゅうに (Ni-sen-ni-jyuu-ni).

Japanese Numbers – Exceptions

There are some pronunciation exceptions, so keep those in mind.

NumbersKanjiSino-Japanese ReadingRomaji

So, counting up till now is quite easy, right? Don’t worry! The next numbers are also easy too!

Japanese Numbers – Big Numbers

There’s just one thing you need to be careful about.

Up until now, we didn’t use いちせん for 1000, nor いちひゃく for 100 or いちじゅう for 10.

From now, things become a little different.

NumbersKanjiSino-Japanese ReadingRomaji

Let’s look at a bigger number now: 123,456

NumberKanjiSino-Japanese ReadingRomaji

Now you can understand why it’s easier to use Kanji for Japanese numbers, right? For big numbers, Hiragana can get pretty long and sometimes confusing too.

Hence, the use of Arab numerals is pretty common in Japanese, especially with bigger numbers.

In our next article, you will learn to use these numbers with counters, for stating numbers of specific objects. So, until then, keep practicing!


Not so painful, eh? You can now count numbers in Japanese!

We used lots of Kanji and Hiragana in this lesson, so make sure to learn or review them before heading on to more difficult lessons:

Have you ever considered taking online Japanese classes?

We are offering a Free Trial for classes on our Flexi Classes platform, where we teach Japanese 24/7 with native professional teachers.

If you fancy testing yourself, why not take our Japanese numbers quiz as well?

Let us know if you have any questions, we would love to hear about your study project!

Japanese grammar bank


What are Japanese numbers from 1 to 10?

Here are the Japanese numbers from 1 to 10:

1 (一) いち Ichi

2 (ニ) に Ni

3 (三) さん San

4 (四) し、よん Shi, Yon

5 (五) ご Go

6 (六) ろく Roku

7 (七) しち、なな Shichi, Nana

8 (八) はち Hachi

9 (九) く、きゅう Ku, Kyuu

10 (十) じゅう Jyuu

What’s the difference between Kunyomi and Onyomi?

Kanji all have a Kunyomi and an Onyomi.

Kunyomi is the Japanese pronunciation of a Kanji character.

It is used only up to the number ten.

Onyomi is a pronunciation derived from Chinese where Kanji originated and is usually the one we use on a daily basis.

What is 0 (zero) in Japanese?

For 0, the kanji is 零 and is pronounced れい (rei).

Sometimes, it is also referred as マル (maru) which translates to “circle”. It is used like “oh” is used instead of “zero” in English when reading individual digits of a number.

However, to pronounce the number 11 for example, you just have to add the Sino-Japanese reading of both the numbers, 10 and 1:

 11 (十一) is じゅういち (Jyuu-ichi).

Following the exact same rule: the pronunciation of 15 is じゅうご (Jyuu-go).

How do you say 100 in Japanese?

100 (百) in Japanese is ひゃくhyaku.

How to say 1,000 in Japanese?

1000 (千) in Japanese is せん sen.

Do you teach the Japanese numbers in class?

Absolutely yes.

The Japanese numbers are taught as part of the first lessons on Flexi Classes.

The teacher takes time to teach you the numbers, have you do some exercises to help retain them better and will always be there of you have more questions about the lesson.

Have a look at our Japanese Flexi Classes here.

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