Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Counting: Japanese tally and gesture

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/20 Traditional Culture ,

The “Correct” counting method in Japan

How do you write when you count numbers of items?
I know tally marks which are used in many countries, but Japanese people don’t use them.

Western tally

Instead, a certain Kanji character is used.

Japanese tally five

The character means “correct”.
As you can see, this consists of five lines.
On counting, it goes like this;

Japanese tally one

This is the same as the Kanji for “one”.

Two to five are:

Japanese tally two

Japanese tally three

Japanese tally four

Japanese tally five

Why is this Kanji used among all the Kanji characters consisted of five strokes?
I can’t answer this question, and I have no idea since when it has been used for counting.
I heard Chinese people also use this character to count, but I’m not sure if Japanese simply adopted the Chinese idea because a different character was used in the Edo period.

 

– How to count in the Edo era –

In those days, people used this Kanji character;

Japanese old tally five

This means “ball”, and consists of four lines and one dot.
This one goes;
1)

Japanese tally one

2)

Japanese old tally two

This is the same as the Kanji for “two”.

3)

Japanese old tally three
The Kanji for “three”, although it looks a little off.
(Usually the middle line is the shortest)

4)

Japanese old tally four
The Kanji for “king”, again it looks a little off.

5)

Japanese old tally five

This character seems more reasonable to me, for each stroke from one to three is almost identical to its Kanji number.
Some people say that this was replaced with the present one because it would be difficult to identify if the last dot is properly written or it’s just a splash of “sumi” (Japanese ink).

 

– Mark for count? –

Western tally

This mark is used as a tally in mainly Spanish-spoken area, according to Wikipedia.
In Japan, this mark reminds people of a sign for “masu”.

Masu sign

-Masu sign-

This sign is a symbol of “masu”, a square wooden box to measure liquid, crops, flour and so on.

Masu

-Dried soy beans in "masu"-
Photo from Sozaing

You might see this sign at restaurants or shops in Japan.
A Japanese word “arimasu” is a politer expression for “aru”, meaning “there is (are)”.
As both “masu” for this word and a wooden box have exactly the same pronunciation, the “masu” sign is sometimes used instead.

Ari"masu"

Top: arimasu
Bottom: arimasu with "masu" sign

 

Count with hand in Japan

I guess Western people count the same way when they count to themselves as they would when showing it to other people.
In Japan, it’s different.

 

– To myself –

When I count to myself with my hand, “one” should be this;

Counting Gesture One

Then, folding my index finger for two, middle for three.

Counting Gesture Two

-Two-

I make a fist for five.

Counting Gesture Five

For six, stick up my little finger.
(You may realise it’s the same gesture as “four”)

[Note]
If you show this “six” gesture to another person, it may imply “(your or another person’s) girlfriend”.
It depends on what you were talking about, and it’s usually used by men.
It may be already out-dated and I personally feel it’s not a very sophisticated gesture especially for women.

Counting Gesture Six

 

– To others –

If I show the count to others, “one” is;

Counting Gesture One

Then, open my middle for two like a peace sign.
Thumb is the last to open for five.

Counting Gesture Five

Six is this;

Counting Gesture Six

On counting to others, most people would face their palms outward, but it is possible they may turn them inward.
So, if you are British, please don’t feel offended when Japanese people do this gesture saying “Two!”

Counting Gesture Two

The following two tabs change content below.

kara

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).

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

A couple enjoying the view at Ginshoji

Momijigari: Hunting for Autumn Colors

I have never been to any form of hunting trip till my friends and I head out to Kyoto this year to experience Momijigari which literally translates to maple leaf (momiji) hunting (gari). Just like Hanami (sakura viewing) in spring, Momijigari in autumn is well rooted in the Japanese culture and recently has also gained […]

Read Article

School in Takahashi

Takahashi in Okayama, Japan -Part 2-

The Bicchuu Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi city(2) When I reached the top, I found a tea server. “Bicchuu Uji-cha”, a local tea was served and it was free. “Thank god, I can cool my throat”, I thought, but surprisingly it was steaming hot! I didn’t want to waste my tea, so I waited until it […]

Read Article

Yatai

Matsuri: A Food-Lovers Heaven

Summer in Japan is finally here! Finally, the season for Matsuri(festivals). Japan as busy as a country it may seem has a year-long list of festivals it celebrate all over the country. For most tourists, this is the best time to experience first-hand Japanese traditions and culture. In most of these festivals, you will find […]

Read Article

Shogi_osho

Shogi, The General’s Board Game – Shogi Pieces

Last time, we talked about the history and origin of the game shogi. In this post, we will learn the pieces use in shogi. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text – […]

Read Article

Ninja

We are ninjas: What ninja is and the origin

What is “ninja”? From “Mansenshuukai” a.k.a. “Bansenshuukai” (a famous ninjutsu-sho, a book about ninja’s tricks), an excellent ninja is described as one who makes a great success but; Makes no sound Has no odor Remains nameless Never win a name for himself / herself Makes outstanding achievements just like creating this world About the expression […]

Read Article

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okayama Castle: A unique blend of the old and the new

Okayama Castle they say is one of the must see places here in Okayama City, Japan. Well if you have been around cities here a number of them have their own castle. I believe there are about hundreds of them scattered all over Japan. But what then sets this castle apart from the rest of […]

Read Article

Go

Let’s Play “Go”! – The Go Board Game in Modern Times and Popular Culture

The Go board game became popular not only in Asia but also in other countries. It also spawned many work of art and fictions. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text – […]

Read Article

Chinowa featured image

Summer Ritual at Shinto Shrine: “Chinowa-kuguri”

When I visited my wife’s parents’ home, I also went to a nearby shrine called Kibitsu shrine. At that time, an interesting ritual was being held. I’m going to introduce about it on this post. “Chinowa-kuguri” The ritual that has been held there is called “Chinowa-kuguri”. “Chinowa-kuguri” is one of the rites of “Nagoshi-no-harae”, which […]

Read Article

Zentsuu-ji 08

Due South : Zentsuu-ji, Kagawa – Quick Shikoku Pilgrimage

Mini hachi-jyuu-hachi kasho meguri (Quick circuit for 88 sacred places) Behind the temple, there is a small mountain called “Koushiki-zan” (lit. “Mt. Scent-colour”). There is a path encircling the mountain, which is about 1.6 km (approx. 1 mile) long. This is a very short version of the well-known pilgrimage in Japan : “(Shikoku) Hachi-jyuu-hachi kasho […]

Read Article

092648

What Does the Japanese Fox Say – A Look at Foxes in Japanese Folklore and Popular Culture 2

The Japanese fox (Vulpes vulpes), as mentioned in the first part of this feature, is a common topic in Japanese myths and legends. Continuing our discussion about the kitsune, we will feature one of its known ability: human possession. Kitsune’s Human Possession Kitsune is able to possess humans. The word, 狐憑き (kitsunetsuki), literally means the […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑