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Basic Japanese : Numbers – Minor one to ten in Japanese

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One to ten in Japanese 2

In this post, I’m going to write minor version of one to ten in Japanese.
I doubt if this is introduced in Japanese textbooks for foreign people.
This is still used, but rather rare I guess.
Also, it’s less favourable in the formal conversations or texts.

Minor ways to say one to ten in Japanese

Japanese Number List 2

Middle: Number in Kanji
Right: Hiragana

All the numbers contain more than one character, but as you can see from the list, most of the numbers with two characters are consisted of the first (consonant and vowel) and the second (vowel of the first).
So, the numbers with red characters in the list can be said with the first characters only, because it’s just whether you prolong the sound or not.

For English speakers, this minor version is probably easier to pronounce than the common one.



“Hii” or “Hi”.
“Hii” is pronounced as English “he”.



“Fuu” or “Fu”.

“Fuu” / “Fu” is sometimes written as “Huu” / “Hu”.
In fact, “H” sound is closer to Japanese pronunciation.
“Huu” is similar to English “who”.



“Mii” or “Mi”.
“Mii” is almost the same as English “me”.



“Yoo” or “Yo”.
“Yoo” is similar to English “yo”.
This one is close to “yon”, one of the commonly used words for “four”. (See my previous post.)



A little similar to an English word “its”.



“Muu” or “Mu”.
English “Moo” for “Muu”.



In the list above, this one is the only number which is still commonly used.
See my previous post.



“Yaa” or “Ya”.
English “yeah” for “Yaa”.



“Koko”, “Kokono”, “Kono”, “Koo” or “Kokonotsu”.
This number has got many variants.
I say “kokonotsu”.
I myself have never heard of anybody saying “Kono” or “Koo” for this number, but there seems to be some according to websites.

“Koko” is like saying English “Co.” twice.
“Kokono” is probably similar to “co. co. no” (without prolonging the sound of “no”).
“Kokonotsu” is “co. co. knots”.
“Kono” is perhaps the same as the name “Kono”, a Hawaian guy in the American TV drama “Hawaii 5-O” (I watched the original series).
“Koo” is close to English “coe” in “coed”.



Some write “tou” for this number, but it’s not correct.
Similar to English “toe”.

– A person whose name is “one two three” –

If you are lucky(?), you might see a Japanese whose name is “Hifumi”.
It is quite probable that the person’s name is written as “one two three” in Kanji characters especially when it’s the family name.

Counting one to ten in Japanese

Japanese Number List 3

Left: With Kanji character
Right: Hiragana

This is probably older way of counting than the one with common numbers (“ichi, ni, san…”).
Basically, the character “tsu” is suffixed.

You may hear this rather often in Japan.
Some people use this for “one (to ten) something” or “the age of one (to ten)”.

To say “Give me three apples please” in Japanese.

  1. “Ringo san-ko kudasai.”
    (“Ringo” means “apple”, “kudasai” in this sentence means “please give”, and “Ko” is a counter word.)
  2. “Ringo mittsu kudasai.”


To say “(I’m) five years old” in Japanese.

  1. Go-sai.”
    (“Sai” is a counter word for age.)
  2. Itsutsu


For over ten, we use the common number and a counter word.
“Eleven” is “jyuu-ichi”; “jyuu” (ten) and “ichi” (one).
“Eleven years old” is “jyuu-issai” (“issai” is “ichi” and “sai”).


Also used in a several nursery rhymes:

  • Nanatsu no ko” (lit. “Seven children” or “Seven-year-old child”)
  • “Tooryanse” (See my Tenjin post.)
    There is a line “Konoko no nanatsu no oiwai ni”.
    (lit. “To celebrate this child’s seventh birthday”.)
  • “Momotarou”
    In the lyrics, “Hitotsu watashi ni kudasai na”.
    (lit. “Please give me one.”)




The last “tsu” is like “ts” in English “oats”.



“Hutatsu” is closer to Japanese pronunciation.
Like “who tots”.



English “Mitts”.



Similar to “yot” from English “yottie” and “ts”.



Like “its-ts”.



Its pronunciation is perhaps similar to the combination of “mut” from germany word “mutter” and English “ts”.



Like “na nuts”.



Similar to English “Yatchts”.



See the description above for “Nine”.



The only number without suffixed “tsu”.
See the description above for “Ten”.


Related posts:
#Numbers (1: General one to ten)

#Japanese Alphabet (1: “Gojyuu-on” and “iroha-uta”)
(2: Out-of-use characters)
(3: First half of “iroha-uta”)
(4: Second half of “iroha-uta”)

#“I” in Japanese (1) (2) (3)

#Japanese honorific titles (1:Formal) (2:Casual) (3:In text) (4:Business titles)

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A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

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