sci.lang.japan FAQ / 12. Numbers, counting, and dates

12.1. How does Japanese write large numbers?

Japanese uses a different counting system for large numbers to English. In English, numbers increase by thousands, so one thousand, one million, then one billion, a thousand times a million. Japanese is based on the Chinese system which uses ten thousand as a basic unit. A man (万) is ten thousand, and then an oku (億) is ten thousand times ten thousand, a hundred million. Increasing in number, a chou (兆) is ten thousand times an oku, or a trillion. The following list shows the first few of these large numbers.

Kanji Pronunciation Equivalent numerals English pronunciation
いち 1 One
じゅう 10 Ten
ひゃく 100 One hundred
せん 1,000 One thousand
まん 10,000 Ten thousand
おく 100,000,000 One hundred million
ちょう 1,000,000,000,000 One trillion
けい 10,000,000,000,000,000 Ten quadrillion

The FAQ's Western to Kanji and Kanji to Western number converters give even larger numbers.


sci.lang.japan FAQ / 12. Numbers, counting, and dates

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