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Basic Japanese : Trivia about numbers in Japanese

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/22 Others , , , , , ,

The final post about numbers in Japanese.

Number over quadrillion

Numbers over “chou” (trillion to quadrillion) are quite rarely used.
You may hear the following unit “kei” sometimes, but numbers over the unit “kei” won’t be seen in usual life.
I’ve never seen it myself even in the news and I actually can’t name units over “kei”.
I know that there are units called “nayuta”, “fukashigi” and “muryoutaisuu”, although I’m not sure what numbers these units are used.

Ten quadrillion to ten quintillion


From “10,000,000,000,000,000” to “10,000,000,000,000,000,000”, the unit called “kei” is used.
The Kanji character for the unit is the same as the one for “kyo” in “Kyoto”, a famous Japanese city.

  • Ten quadrillion is assumingly “ikkei”, the combination of “ichi” and “kei”.
  • Hundred quadrillion is “jikkei” : “jyuu” (ten) and “kei”.
    Same as “chou” unit, ten numbers and the unit “kei” together become “jikkei”.
  • Quintillion is “hyakkei” : “hyaku” (hundred) and “kei”.
    Like “jikkei”, the combination of hundred numbers and “kei” is pronunced as “hyakkei”.
    Three quintillion is “san byakkei” : “san” (three), “hyaku” and “kei”.
    Six quintillion is “roppyakkei” : “roku” (six), “hyaku” and “kei”.
    Eight quintillion is “happyakkei” : “hachi” (eight), “hyaku” and “kei”.
  • Ten quintillion is “sen kei” : “sen” (thousand) and “kei”.



Not exactly a number, but you may hear the word more often than the unit “kei”.
It’s “mugendai” in Japanese, consisted of three Kanji characters.
The first Kanji is pronounced as “mu”, a little similar to English “me” sound in “home”.
It means “nothing”.
The second one is “gen”, the combination of “ghe” in “ghetto” and “n” sound.
Meaning “limit”.
The last one is “dai”, perhaps almost the same as “di” in “dine”.
It means “large”, “huge” or “big”.

Altogether, the word literally means “limitless large”.

Kanji characters for one, two, three and ten in the financial deeds

In the financial deeds, different Kanji characters are used for one, two, three and ten.
It’s because Kanji for “one, two, three and ten” can be easily altered.
The Kanji for “one” is one horizontal line, “two” is two lines, “three” is three lines and ten is cross-shaped (one horizontal line and one vertical line).
If you add one or two lines to the Kanji for “one” tactfully, some people may be decieved that the written number is two, three or ten.
Or, even if you are innocent, you might get suspected whether you falsified a number.

For those numbers in the financial deeds, it is regulated by law to use different Kanji, which is called as “dai-ji” (lit. big characters), instead of common Kanji, to avoid confusion.
There are also different characters for other numbers like four, but most of them are rarely seen.


One in Japanese
The middle character is used for Japanese ten-thousand-yen banknote.

Japanese 10000 yen Banknote

- Japanese 10,000 yen note -


Two in Japanese


Three in Japanese


Ten in Japanese

Percentage in Japanese


In Japan, the unit “wari” is frequently used as well as “%” (pronounced as “paasento” in Japanese) for rate.
“100%” is equal to “jyuu (ten) wari”, so “ichi (one) wari” is “10%”.

When you go to shops in Japan, you sometimes see this character with another Kanji “hiki”.
“Hiki” means “subtract” in this case, and its pronunciation becomes “biki” after “wari”.
“Wari-biki” means “discount”.
When a number is prefixed the word, it means “number * 10% off”.
“Ni (two) wari-biki” is “20% off”.

For “50% off”, the word “han-gaku” is more often used than “50 wari-biki”.
“Han” means “half” and “gaku” means “quantity (usually of money)”.
“Han-gaku” means “half price”.

“Bu” and “Rin”

For the smaller rate than “wari”, the unit “bu” is used.
“Jyuu (ten) bu” is “ichi (one) wari”.

“Rin” is a smaller unit of rate than “bu”.
“Jyuu rin” is “ichi bu”.

“Bu” means tenth part of the standard unit in general.
“Rin” is hundredth part.
The standard unit for the rate is “wari”.
“Ichi wari” is “10%”, so “ichi bu” is “1%”.
“Ichi rin” is “0.1%”.

These “bu” and “rin” are very rarely heard now except for batting average or in the phrase “ku-bu ku-rin”.
For batting average “0.321”, we say “San (three) wari ni (two) bu ichi rin“.

Both “ku” in “ku-bu ku-rin” means “nine”, and it means “almost (perfect)” or “nearly (certain)”.
Ku-bu ku-rin
“Ku-bu ku-rin” is just “ichi rin” less than “jyuu bu”.
So, the phrase is similar to “99%” in its meaning.

* When expressing time, the Kanji characters for “jyuu bu” are read as “jippun”.
See my previous post.

Counting every two number to ten

We Japanese often count like 2-4-6-8-10, saying “nii, shii, roo, yaa, too”.
Pronunciations are similar to English “knee, sea, law, yeah, toe”.
Some (including me) say “haa” (prolonging English “huh”) instead of “yaa” for eight.


Related posts:
#Numbers (1: General one to ten)
(2: Minor one to ten)
(3: Eleven to hundred)
(4: Large numbers)

#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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