It can be found on page 124 of the edition I own and it goes as follows:

The abstract idea of a number (independent of what is counted) is not evident, and abstract numbers do not exist in some languages. For example, in Japanese there are certain numerals which depend on whether a counted object is reclining or standing, or whether the object is edible or not, and so on. Several years ago the Japanese faced a problem in their legislation connected with various numerals. Once there were debates in their Parliament on the food problem, and one of the deputies drew attention to the fact that there are many hares in the mountains--excellent food but unused. The point [was] that hares were counted by numerals used for inedible objects and for this reason people did not eat them.

A special committee was arranged to solve the problem. After some time the committe proposed a new law. The law passed, and the problem was solved; according to this law "a hare is a bird"...

I would greatly appreciate any comments or answers as to the accuracy of this story (especially of what is mentioned in the second paragraph) that you may want to leave for me below...


1 Answer 1


Through the history from time to time, it has been prohibited to eat meat of animals that walk on the ground with 4 feet by influence of Buddhism. Then, one day, someone who somehow wanted to eat hare claimed that hares are a kind of birds so you can eat them. (That's why you count them with 羽 now.)

I believe that story was transmitted wrongly.

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