Numbers and Time in Japanese

By Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch

When studying Japanese, you will need to learn about counting in Japanese. Learn the Japanese numbers and the Japanese kanji numbers. Also learn how to tell time in Japanese.

One Through One Hundred

Most numbers in Japanese follow a regular pattern. Once you learn numbers 1-10 in Japanese, you are good to go! For example, the number 11 in Japanese is 10 + 1. All numbers have a Chinese character, kanji; however, one number may have multiple readings. In many cases, the different readings can be interchanged. Below are the Japanese numbers from one to 100, with the Japanese kanji numbers before the numerical:

0 ゼロ (zero), へい (rei)

1 いち (ichi)

2 に (ni)

3 さん (san)

4 よん (yon), し (shi)

5 ご (go)

6 ろく (roku)

7 なな (nana), しち (shichi)

8 はち (hachi)

9 きゅう (kyuu), く (ku)

10 じゅう (juu)

100 ひゃく (hyaku)

Numbers 21 through 99 follow the same pattern as 11 through 19. These numbers are used in many ways, such as counting, mathematics and money. However, in Japan, the larger numbers are used most often in shopping, since 100 yen is around a dollar (the exact monetary equivalent varies each day).

Let's go over some basic words to do calculations in Japanese:

plus: プラス (purasu)

minus: マイナス (mainasu)

equals: イコール (ikooru)

One Hundred to Ninety Thousand

These Japanese numbers are important to know for shopping, as items will be marked with prices above 100 yen. Once numbers go into the triple digits in Japanese, some of the numbers (300, 600, 800, 3000 and 8000) do not follow the normal patterns:

100 ひゃく (hyaku)

1000 せん (sen)

Telling Time

When we tell time in Japanese, we need to add the appropriate marker. For an hour, the marker is (ji):

One o'clock: いちじ (ichiji)

Two o'clock: にじ (niji)

Three o'clock: さんじ (sanji)

Four o'clock: よじ (yoji)

Five o'clock: ごじ (goji)

Six o'clock: ろくじ (rokuji)

Seven o'clock: しちじ (shichiji)

Eight o'clock: はちじ (hachiji)

Nine o'clock: くじ (kuji)

Ten o'clock: じゅうじ (juuji)

Eleven o'clock: じゅういちじ (juuichiji)

Twelve o'clock: じゅうにじ (juuniji)

Minutes also follow a similar pattern, with the counter ふん (fun):

1 いっぷん (ippun)

2 にふん (nifun)

3 さんぷん (sanpun)

4 よんぷん (yonpun)

5 ごふん (gofun)

6 ろっぷん (roppun)

7 ななふん (nanafun)

8 はっぷん/はちふん (happun/hachifun)

9 きゅうふん (kyuufun)

10 じゅっぷん (juppun)

11 じゅういっぷん (juuippun)

12 じゅうにふん (juunifun)

13 じゅうさんぷん (juusanpun)

14 じゅうよんぷん (juuyonpun)

15 じゅうごふん (juugofun)

16 じゅうろっぷん (juuroppun)

17 じゅうななふん (juunanafun)

18 じゅうはっぷん/じゅうはちふん (juuhappun/juuhachifun)

19 じゅうきゅうふん (juukyuufun)

20 にじゅっぷん (nijuppun)

30 さんじゅっぷん (sanjuppun)

There are shortcuts when telling time. For the half hour (30 minutes), はん (han) can be used. If the exact time is not known, the word ごろ (goro) can be used. For example, if it is around 7 o'clock, we would say しちじ ごろ (shichiji goro). Japanese time is on the 12 hour schedule. If it is the morning, the word ごぜん (gozen) is used. If it is the afternoon, the word ごご (gogo) is used. However, unlike in English, the words for AM and PM are put before the time. For example, 8:30 AM in Japanese is ごぜん はちじ はん (gozen hachiji han).