This is from one of the reading comprehensions of An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese.


What are the ○ and • supposed to mean?? They were used in multiple sentences, mostly the ones where percentages were mentioned.

  • 6
    You used the character ○ (U+25CB) which is named "white circle", but the correct character is 〇 (U+3007) which is "ideographic number zero" (considered to be a kanji).
    – Nayuki
    Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 15:33
  • Ah I see, I wasn't sure how it was pronounced so I just wrote "maru" on my keyboard to get a similar one. How are the they(〇 and •) pronounced?
    – Kay
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 16:22
  • 1
    On the Windows Japanese IME, U+3007 can be obtained from れい or ゼロ, because it effectively means 零.
    – Nayuki
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


These are zeros and decimal points.

"In 90, it was 20.3 percent; in 2004, it was 27.6 percent."

  • If you don't mind me asking, why did they use the ○ instead of 十? Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 8:11
  • 5
    @Meerfallthedewott They don't use ○ instead of 十, they use ○ to mean zero. It's used when writing out a number digit by digit using kanji instead of arabic numerals.
    – Christer
    Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 10:59
  • 1
    @natiiix I would think this is a stylistic choice. Given that percentages are being written in this hybrid style, editorially it might be seen as having a cleaner feel. While I'm not 100% (excuse the pun) sure about this, it seems to me that calendar years are typically written using Arabic numerals. So, if you're going to adopt this style, writing 九○年 instead of 90年 doesn't seem like such a strange choice. Were it written as 九十年, I would probably be confused wondering whether they were talking about 90 years or the year 1990 (given the context).
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 23:37
  • 1
    @A.Ellett I think it's more understandable for percentages because you often have a decimal part and with that, I can understand it. However, for years, it just seems a bit weird to me. Wait, did they mean 1990? I just assumed it was the year 90 of the first century, or relative to a certain era/emperor. My problem with using ○ here is that it looks extremely out-of-place. On Linux, at least, it's tiny compared to other kanji, virtually idential to the full-stop period used in Japanese, just a bit higher (or the ° degrees symbol, but lower), making it look very much unlike any other kanji.
    – natiiix
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 8:23
  • 1
    They mean 1990. It is an abbreviation for 一九九〇, which is practically never written as 千九百九十 when we are talking about the Gregorian calendar. Hence it is written as 九〇 and not 九十. > it looks extremely out-of-place. As mentioned in a comment above, ○ (U+25CB), "white circle", may be rendered as quite a tiny circle, but the correct character 〇 (U+3007), "ideographic number zero", is likely to be rendered nicely in your environment. That said, computer fonts are hard because Unicode is multilinguistic by its nature. Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 9:29

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