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Most people who've taken a Japanese 101 class know the 10 native Japanese numbers (一つ、二つ・・・十). It's always seemed odd that a system would stop at 10 when so many things in life need larger numbers. Are there in fact native Japanese numbers greater than 10?

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Of course, there are! (cries) –  非回答者 Mar 20 at 10:22
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Reference: "A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Western Old Japanese" (Part 1), pages 365-377. ISBN 1-901903-14-1. –  Dono Mar 21 at 13:47

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

As it turns out, there are Japanese numbers greater than 10!

Getting started, let's review the basics:

1 through 9:

[一つ]{ひとつ}、[二つ]{ふたつ}、[三つ]{みっつ}、[四つ]{よっつ}、[五つ]{いつつ}、[六つ]{むっつ}、[七つ]{ななつ}、[八つ]{やっつ}、[九つ]{ここのつ}

Going above 20, つ changes into そ. Here are the 10s through 90:

[十]{とお}、[二十]{はた}、[三十]{みそ}、[四十]{よそ}、[五十]{いそ}、[六十]{むそ}、[七十]{ななそ}、[八十]{やそ}、[九十]{ここのそ}

Similarly, at the 100s it changes into ほ (which, due to the 1946 simplifications, would be pronounced as お). Here's 100-900:

[百]{もも}、[二百]{ふたほ}、[三百]{みほ}、[四百]{よほ}、[五百]{いほ}、[六百]{むほ}、[七百]{ななほ}、[八百]{やほ}、[九百]{ここのほ}

At the 1000s it changes into ち. Here's 1,000 through 9,000:

[千]{ち}、[二千]{ふたち}、[三千]{みち}、[四千]{よち}、[五千]{いち}、[六千]{むち}、[七千]{ななち}、[八千]{やち}、[九千]{ここのち}

Finally, as with the Chinese number system, Japanese stops adding new units every level at the 10,000 mark, where it becomes よろづ (which, as with ほ above, becomes よろず in modern Japanese). Here's 10,000 through 90,000:

[万]{よろづ}、[二万]{ふたよろづ}、[三万]{みよろづ}、[四万]{よよろづ}、[五万]{いよろづ}、[六万]{むよろづ}、[七万]{ななよろづ}、[八万]{やよろづ}、[九万]{ここのよろづ}

Larger numbers recombine in a similar manner as [十万]{じゅうまん}, [百万]{ひゃくまん}, etc., but more on that in a moment. As it is, we still haven't figured out how to combine what we've already got into something more useful (e.g. 24 or 365).

Combining numbers in the Japanese system involves choosing the appropriate word for each place's value and putting the word あまり (remainder, often shortened to まり) in between each. So, for example:

  • 24 = 20 + 4 = [二十]{はた}まり[四つ]{よっつ}
  • 365 = 300 + 600 + 5 = [三百]{みほ}まり[六十]{むそ}まり[五つ]{いつつ}
  • 1024 = 1000 + 20 + 4 = [千]{ち}まり[二十]{はた}まり[四つ]{よっつ}
  • 12,345 = 10,000 + 2,000 + 300 + 40 + 5 = [万]{よろづ}まり[二千]{ふたち}まり[三百]{みほ}まり[四十]{よそ}まり[五つ]{いつつ}

...as you can see, this can get old rather quickly if you're trying to count things. On that level, it's pretty plain to see why it's not in common use above [十]{とお}. Having to say "[hundreds] with a remainder of [tens] with a remainder of [ones]" and so on can get tiresome. Thankfully, you get a slight reprieve from this once you hit 10,000 based on the few examples I've seen of numbers this high:

  • [百万]{ももよろづ} 1,000,000
  • [八百万]{やおよろづ} 8,000,000

As to their uses in modern Japanese, they mostly appear in set phrases or poetry. For example:

  • [二十歳]{はたち} - 20 years of age
  • [二十日]{はつか} - 20th of the month
  • [三十日]{みそか} - 30th of the month (c.f. last day of the month)
  • [大晦日]{おおみそか} - New Year's Eve (by extension of the above, last day of the year)
  • [八十島]{やそしま} - 80 islands (poetic way of referring to the entirety of Japan)
  • [八百屋]{やおや} - Grocery store
  • [万代]{よろづよ} - 10,000 years (poetic way of saying "an eternity")
  • [八百万]{やほよろづ} - 8,000,000 (used to refer to "everything" in a manner similar to 全ての)
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Frankly, I find all those extensive pairs of kanji numbers and originally Japanese numbers in kana to be kinda "funny" because the Japanese numbers were already there before the Japanese encountered the Chinese and learned Kanji from them. –  非回答者 Mar 20 at 11:20
    
True, but they're technically permissible, and I figured it made it easier to read than 10: とお, 20: はた, etc. (or making it even longer by bulleting the list). Plus, when you get into the まり sets it makes it easier to distinguish what's what. –  Kaji Mar 20 at 11:22
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Then is [十八番]{おはこ} somehow related to this? I'm trying to use the logic you presented, but failing to see how the と(お) would get shorted to just . –  istrasci Mar 20 at 15:20
    
EDICT lists the alternate kanji 御箱, which could explain the pronunciation. As to the numbers, further consultation with EDICT indicates it's got ties to Kabuki, which isn't my forte (...forgive the pun). –  Kaji Mar 20 at 15:26
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@hippietrail Right, the pronunciation changed naturally over time, and the script reforms merely brought spelling into line with what people had already been saying for a long time. –  snailboat Apr 11 at 9:00

Here is a good list of numbers in [大和言葉]{やまとことば}.

http://www.sf.airnet.ne.jp/~ts/language/number/ancient_japanesej.html

Beginning and intermediate Japanese-learners may think that we only use 1-10 from the list in Modern Japanese, but that is not true.

For instance, native speakers frequently use these to tell people's ages euphemistically.

はたち (20)、みそじ (30)、よそじ (40)、いそじ (50), etc.

It is like if you said "@Chocolate is [50歳]{ごじゅっさい}", it could sound like you are saying she is just an old frump, but if you chose to say that she was いそじ, it would be a win-win because she could now appear to be a sophisticated older dame AND you yourself would look smart for choosing the 大和言葉.  

「もも」 and 「ち」 are for 100 and 1,000 respectively, and some of you would know that they are still the kun-readings of the kanji 百 and 千, respectively.

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5  
誰が50歳やねん!!------- –  Choko Mar 20 at 12:18

See 古代日本語の数体系

はたち、みそじ is still for referring people's age.

い、いそ、ち、や, よろず, etc are often seen in proper names, and fixed phrases.

    	1-9	10-90	100-900	1k-9000	10000
    1	ひとつ	とを	もも	ち	よろづ
    2	ふたつ	はたち	ふたほ	ふたち	ふたよろづ
    3	みつ	みそぢ	みほ	みち	みよろづ
    4	よつ	よそぢ	よほ	よち	よよろづ
    5	いつつ	いそぢ	いほ	いち	いよろづ
    6	むつ	むそぢ	むほ	むち	むよろづ
    7	ななつ	ななそぢ	ななほ	ななち	ななよろづ
    8	やつ	やそぢ	やは	やち	やよろづ
    9	ここのつ	ここのそぢ	ここのほ	ここのち	ここのよろづ

When reading large numbers, あまり is added before 1-9.

41: よそぢ あまり ひとつ
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Some more examples containing these numbers: 二十歳{はたち}, 二十日{はつか}, 八百屋{やおや}, 千鳥{ちどり} and 千歳{ちとせ} –  snailboat Mar 20 at 10:41
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@snailboat, 1, 2, 10, 100, 1k, 10k are important numbers, while 8 is not. However there are many words containing や. I think the Japanese do love it. –  Yang Muye Mar 20 at 10:45

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