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As I was reading the book, I found the above table. Here, one thing=hito. Though Ichi ju made much more sense to me as an absolute beginner (Assuming, "hito" is another word to describe one thing). But in the Kanji I saw "ichi tsu" for "one thing". But the furigana says its hito. So is the tsu from hiragana or it's another syllable in Kanji (I think I have seen similar Kanji before but don't know the pronunciation)?

  • Even according to Kunyumi, "one" is supposed to be read as hito. But then the they added another syllable with the "one" kanji. Too confusing.
    – Istiak
    May 2, 2023 at 17:09
  • I think I remember, hitotsu futatsu.... But furigana says to read hitotsu as hito, perhaps I am mixing something?
    – Istiak
    May 2, 2023 at 17:12
  • The furigana is only above the kanji. So you read that and then continue on to the okurigana (which is つ in this case).
    – Leebo
    May 2, 2023 at 21:57
  • You're confused because you haven't seen the full picture of how the readings of Kanji's came about. I would highly suggest looking up the history of Japanese writing system on YouTube, there are a lot of great videos that explain the topic holistically and intuitively.
    – dvx2718
    May 3, 2023 at 0:46
  • "how to read (this) furigana" may be a better title that could help other beginners. May 3, 2023 at 5:34

3 Answers 3


If I understand your question correctly, you are asking why "一つ" (for 'one thing') is read as "hito", and not "ichi tsu"?

The answer is, neither of those is correct. "一つ" is read as "hitotsu". You can see that the "hito" (ひと) is written only above the "一" kanji. This indicates that the reading "hito" is only applied to the "一" kanji, not to the whole word "一つ". Thus the whole word is pronounced "hitotsu". You can see this reflected in くんよみ row at the top of the diagram which lists ひと(つ). This means that whatever is in parentheses is not part of the kanji's reading, but extra hiragana needed for the word (these extra hiragana are called "okurigana").

Here are some other words that use the "hito" reading: [一人]{hito・ri}, [一言]{hito・koto}, [一目]{hito・me}


Japanese has both Japanese-origin numbers and Chinese-origin numbers for counting.

いち ichi に ni さん san し shi ... come from Chinese

ひとつ hitotsu ふたつ futatsu みっつ mittsu よっつ yottsu ... come from Japanese

In the general counter specifically (〜つ), Japanese-origin numbers are used which is why it's hitotsu and not ichitsu



Be aware that a word may be written with a combination of kanji and hiragana, and that furigana (the small text above kanji) may partially annotate a word or a sentence. When a word is fully composed of kanji, you can read furigana and be done with it. When a word is partially written in kanji (plus furigana) and hiragana, you read furigana and hiragana in order, either from left to right (when written horizontally), or top to bottom (when written vertially).

In this case, you are supposed to read ひと (the furigana part) and then つ (the normal hiragana part). So it's "hitotsu" not "hito".

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The other three words in the picture are written fully in kanji, and I think that's why the confusion didn't arise there.

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