43 How do you count that in Japanese? (How to Count Chopsticks, UFOs, Centaurs & More in Japanese)

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On this episode of Ichimon Japan we ask: How do you count that in Japanese?

Topics Discussed
  • The counter system used in Japanese
  • Japanese counter suffixes
  • The sometimes confusing nature of Japanese counters
  • The correct suffix for counting chopsticks in Japanese
  • Various counters used with different kinds of chopsticks
  • How to properly count squid in Japanese
  • How the shape of a fish can affect what counter you use to count it
  • The correct way to count gods (kami) in Japanese
  • Counters in Chinese and English
  • The various ways to count robots in Japanese
  • How the speaker's intent can influence what counter they use to count something
  • Using the counter -hiki as a way to insult someone or for comedic effect
  • How you count UFOs in Japanese
  • The many different things the counter -tai can be used for
  • What counter you should use when counting centaurs and minotaurs in Japanese
  • Counters used for counting fictional beings in Japanese
  • Some of the factors that go into whether a fantastical creature should be counted using the counter suffix for humans or not
  • What counter suffix should be used to count Doraemon
  • Counting Pokemon
  • And much more!
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Sources, Links, Videos, Etc.

Here are some of the English-language sources used for this episode.

Here are some of the Japanese-language sources used for this episode.

Here are some of the other Ichimon Japan episodes that were mentioned on this one.

Check out the latest episode of Japan Station via the link below.

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Japanese Vocabulary List

Most episodes feature at least one or two interesting Japanese words or phrases. Here’s some of the ones that came up on this episode. All information is from Jim Breen's WWWJDIC.

  • (O)hashi
    • 箸 【はし】 (n) chopsticks
  • Hitosoroi
    • 一揃い : 一揃い; 一そろい; ひと揃い 【ひとそろい】 (n) a set; a suit
  • Ichigu
    • 一具 【いちぐ】 (n) one set
  • Hitokumi
    • 一組 : 一組; 1組; ひと組 【ひとくみ; いちくみ(一組,1組)】 (n) one class; one set; a pair; a suite; a series
  • Ika
    • イカ : 烏賊(P); 鰞 【いか(P); イカ】 (n) (uk) cuttlefish; squid
  • Tokkuri/Tokuri
    • 徳利 【とっくり; とくり】 (n) (1) sake bottle; tall and slender bottle with a narrow mouth made from ceramic, metal or glass that can be used for sake, shoyu or rice vinegar; (n) (2) turtleneck (sweater); (n) (3) non-swimmer; person who cannot swim
  • Hai
    • 杯; 盃 【はい】 ; (n) (1) (See 杯・さかずき) sake cup; cup for alcoholic beverages; (ctr) (2) counter for cupfuls, bowlfuls, spoonfuls, etc.; (ctr) (3) counter for boats; (ctr) (4) counter for octopuses and squid; (n-suf) (5) (See アジア杯) cup (in sports); championship; : 坏; 杯
  • Kami
    • 神 【かみ】 (n) (1) god; deity; divinity; spirit; kami; (n-pref,adj-na) (2) (sl) (See 神対応) incredible; fantastic; amazing; (n) (3) (hon) (arch) Emperor (of Japan); (n) (4) (arch) thunder; (P); : 神; 霊 【み】 ; (n) (arch) soul; spirit; divine spirit; 【かむ; かん】 ; (n-pref) (See 神主・かんぬし・1) divine; godly; 【しん; じん】 ; (n) (1) spirit; psyche; (n) (2) (See 神・かみ・1) god; deity; divinity; kami
  • Za
    • 座 【ざ】 (n) (1) seat; place; (n) (2) position; status; (n) (3) gathering; party; company; atmosphere (of a gathering); (n) (4) stand; pedestal; platform; (n) (5) (historical) trade guild; (suf) (6) attaches to the names of constellations; (suf) (7) attaches to the names of theatres, cinemas and theatrical troupes; (suf,ctr) (8) (See 里神楽) counter for theatres, deities, Buddhist images, tall mountains, and satokagura songs
  • Hashira
    • 柱 【はしら】 (n) (1) pillar; post; (n) (2) support; prop; mainstay; (suf,ctr) (3) counter for buddhas, gods, nobles, etc.; (P); 【じゅう】 ; (n) fret (of a biwa); 【ちゅう; じ】 ; (n,n-suf) (1) bridge (of a koto, etc.); (n,n-suf) (2) (ちゅう only) cylinder; prism
  • Hitobashira
    • 人柱 【ひとばしら】 (n) human pillar; human sacrifice
  • Dai
    • 台 【だい】 (n,n-suf) (1) stand; rack; table; bench; podium; pedestal; platform; stage; (n,n-suf) (2) support; holder; rack; (ctr) (3) counter for machines, incl. vehicles; (n) (4) setting (e.g. in jewellery); (n,n-suf,ctr) (5) (See 代・だい・2,代・だい・6) level (e.g. price level); range (e.g. after physical units); period (of time, e.g. a decade of one's life); (n) (6) elevated area; (n) (7) viewing platform; (n) (8) (See 台盤・1) dish tray; (n) (9) (arch) meal; (n) (10) (arch) (See 高殿) tall building; tower
  • Ki
    • 機 【き】 (n) (1) chance; opportunity; (n,n-suf) (2) machine; (n,n-suf) (3) aircraft; (ctr) (4) counter for aircraft; (ctr) (5) counter for remaining lives (in video games)
  • Tai
    • 体 : 体(P); 身体; 躰; 躯 【からだ】 (n) (1) (からだ is a gikun reading of 身体) (See 身体・しんたい) body; (n) (2) torso; trunk; (n) (3) build; physique; frame; figure; (n) (4) health; constitution; (n) (5) (arch) corpse; dead body; (P); : 体; 態 【てい】 ; (n) appearance; air; condition; state; form; 【たい】 ; (n,n-suf) (1) body; physique; posture; (n,n-suf) (2) shape; form; style; (n,n-suf) (3) substance; identity; reality; (n,n-suf) (4) {math} field; (ctr) (5) counter for humanoid forms (e.g. dolls, statues, corpses, etc.); (n,n-suf) (6) typeface; type
  • Hiki
    • 匹 : 匹(P); 疋 【ひき(P); き】 (ctr) (1) (ひき only) counter for small animals; (ctr) (2) counter for rolls of cloth (two han in size); (ctr) (3) (き only) (arch) counter for horses; (n) (4) roll of cloth
    • 頭【とう】 ; (ctr) counter for large animals (e.g. head of cattle); counter for insects in a collection; counter for helmets, masks, etc.
We Want Your Questions

Is there something about Japan that confuses you? Is there something about Japanese culture that you would like to learn more about? Is there something in Japanese history that you would like us to explain? We're always looking for new questions about Japan to answer, so if you have one, please send it to ichimon@japankyo.com.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing Theme: Produced by Apol (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Fiverr)

Ichimon Japan cover art: Produced by Erik R.

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