I've seen shows where they list things (etc rules, principles) with hitotsu for every point. I would expect hitotsu, futatsu... etc, to be the norm but it doesn't seem so. It didn't seem to be a running gag in the show I've watched for the char to mix things up or have short term memory, and I've seen it used more than once in diff places.

Is using hitotsu repeatedly just a way of starting a new point without having to go through the hassle of keeping track of the order and number of points being listed? In the same way we would probably just say "next point"?

1 Answer 1


Using 一つ for every entry is actually an older and more traditional style of listing than using sequential numbers. Historically, Japan didn't have a tradition of assigning numbers to listed items; each item would simply be marked with 一 or 一つ to indicate that it was "one" of a set of items, in a similar manner to a bulleted list.

This style of listing is nowadays particularly associated with codes (of honour, conduct etc.) in traditional institutions. This is perhaps because preceding each rule with 一つ is conducive to reciting them in a very traditional-sounding manner.

Another appealing point of this style of listing, particularly for rules and principles, is that it implies all rules are of equal and paramount importance, whereas a numbered list might imply a hierarchy that isn't actually desired.

Here's a relevant page in Japanese, if you're interested: https://okwave.jp/qa/q6042515.html

  • Just echoing this answer, I see this usage in documents like company mission statements and in karate schools May 9, 2018 at 15:50
  • This dictionary lists the usage: "箇条書きの文書で,各条の初めにつける語".
    – Yux
    May 14, 2018 at 0:11

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