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A book about architecture I'm trying to read (it's a bit of a slog what with the technical jargon and such) contained this description of a temple building: 二重、初重5X4間、裳階 (もこし) つき、上重4X3間. So it's two stories, the first being five rooms by four, with lean-to rooms attached, etc. I have a few questions about this. First, how is the "X" in 5X4 read? Additionally, I'm assuming that 初重 and 上重 are read しょじゅう and じょうじゅう, respectively. Is this correct?

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In fact that symbol is not X but × on computers. It is the symbol for multiplication. – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 30 '11 at 21:06
My computer is special. (笑) – rdb Aug 30 '11 at 23:22
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The English "by" is read 「かける multiply」 in Japanese. A 3x4 matrix, for example, is 「3かける4行列」 in Japanese. I assume your readings are right in the second part of your question, but can't seem to find them anywhere.

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Occasionally you may see the contracted 「かけ」 also. – Trevor Alexander Dec 30 '13 at 3:14

I think you are making a big miskate. As for 5X4間, you interpret it as 'five rooms by four', but it is not clear what that means, and probably that is wrong. is a traditional unit for length. It is approx the long length of a tatami (about 1.8m). 5X4間 means a 5間 by 4間 rectangle.

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Thank you, sawa. That makes a good deal more sense in the context of historical architecture. For anyone else who's interested,in this case, according to the Wikipedia entry (which I should have thought to look up beforehand), 間 is read as けん. – rdb Aug 28 '11 at 20:34

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