I’m trying to learn Japanese but I want to know if I should learn my numbers in Kanji or Hiragana because I want to learn what I will definitely use in Japan.

1 Answer 1


Numbers are frequently written using Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3,...) in Japanese just as they are in English. However, numbers written in kanji are still used from daily life in traditional style Japanese bars (居酒屋{いざかや}) to official documents, counters, and historical documents.

You can get by with Arabic numerals in Japan but learning the Kanji for the numbers (up to 10,000,000 or 千万) is expected for basic Japanese proficiency. Due to the system of Japanese numbers, this only requires learning 13 Kanji. These are beginners Kanji, taught the first grade of Japanese schools and the most basic N5 level of the JLPT. Therefore you should still learn the Kanji for Japanese numbers.

They’re rarely used in hiragana but you will need to know the “readings” of Kanji which are frequently written in Kana in textbooks (hiragana for kunyōmi and katakana for onyōmi). Learning numbers (or words) in Kanji or Kana in Japanese are not mutually exclusive, you need to be able know the reading of a Kanji to say it correctly so you would know how to write it in Kana anyway. However, once you can read Kanji, you only use hiragana in some circumstances such as grammatical purposes or rare readings. Since numbers are among the most basic Kanji, they’re rarely written in Kana but you would be able to if you knew how to say it and read or write the Kanji.

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