I just noticed in my Facebook uploads that for my videos, it says I have 25本. What's the reasoning behind using 〜本 to count videos or movie clips? The only line of reasoning I can come up with would be thinking of the the movies as as old reel of actual film

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Even though they are circular, they are more flat than long, so I would think those would be counted as 〜枚 instead of 〜本.

So what's the reasoning for using 〜本?

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    My reasoning is the same as yours; it comes from a long tape of actual film. I am not sure if this hypothesis can be proved…. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 17:59
  • I always figured the usage came from the linearity of the medium in time. A film starts at a certain point, then follows along a line in time and stops at the end, just like most words counted with 本. This is just how my mind linked these two things up together though, this has no valid source whatsoever. Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 1:37

2 Answers 2


A good resource for this type of question is 『数え方の辞典』. It includes the following:


There is further information on various cases when it may be counted as 作, 作品, 巻き, 巻 (kan), 齣 (koma), カット, シーン, 場面 etc. For more details, I recommend consulting this at a library or getting your own copy.


You have some better research from Dono but I think of a roll of film in the same way I think of a roll of paper - typically the same shape as a scroll, which would normally be tubular, rather like the film in an old kodak camera.. ie 本

Taking this to the next extreme you might think of a roll of lavatory paper; still 本?probably ...but roll of cinematic film...

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    (1) I think that scrolls are more usually counted as 1[巻]{かん}、2巻 although both 本 and 巻 can be used for both films and scrolls. (2) I am not sure what the second paragraph means. Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 21:53
  • @TsuyoshiIto: (1) Yes of course I forgot about 巻. (2) I was (awkwardly) trying (and failing) to illustrate a continuum whereby if roll of paper is long enough then the diameter, and then radius of the "tube" will exceed the length of the tube and it will take on the dimensions of the movie reel above / a slab of swiss cheese / a millstone/ even a wheel.
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 13:55

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