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Monday, October 25, 2010

Lesson 3.4: Money, Japan and You

One thing you're gonna learn about Japan very quick is that getting around there requires a lot of knowledge of money numbers, along with having lots of traveling-around-buying-useless-crap-you-want money-which I always ration into my own trips and travels. With that in mind, let's begin learning the basic ways to talk about the bigger chunks of change you'll be using in your travels.

ひゃく二百にひゃく三百さんびゃく四百よんひゃく五百ごひゃく六百ろっぴゃく七百ななひゃく八百はっぴゃく九百きゅうひゃく(Can't read it?)

[100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700 ,800, 900]
This kinda money'll probably buy you a meal at a fast food joint or a neat little toy from some vending machine, but knowing the average person traveling to Japan what you desire will undoubtedly climb into the 1000+ or even 10,000+ yen range. Here are the kind of numbers you'll most likely come across as you roam around the various stores.


[1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000, 8000, 9000]

This is the most common range of numbers you'll see when you're shopping around the cities, and the only things I know more expensive than 9000 are specialty goods, collectors editions of stuff and so on(the stuff I know a lot of you want, but might not be able to afford without donating a kidney or first born child). Now, before we go higher up the ranks of spending, I think it's time for a bit of a break to review the money system, as well as how to recite our larger chunks of change.

Much like how we, for the sake of simplicity and space, use the dollar symbol and numbers in print instead of the words for them, instead of using the kanji for money(えん) and expressing numbers, they use the yen symbol(¥) and the Arabic number system(1,2,etc.) to write out the cost of something. That said, it's always good to know how to read the number's kanji on top of how to say them, I think. That way, we can complain about how expensive is something in their native tongue. And remember, it's always pronounced えん in Japanese, not yen(more on why ye is used to write out え in English later).

For how to say these higher numbers, it works much like it has in previous lessons.

With numbers 100-199, it's just 百+any other number in the 1-99 range you wanna use, so if you wanted to express the number 187 it would be 百+八+十+七, read together as 百八十七ひゃくはちじゅうなな. For 200-999 it's(number)+百+any other number in the 1-99 range you wanna use, and the same logic applies with numbers 1000-1999(千+any other number in the 1-999 range you wanna use) and 2000-9999 ((number)千+any other number in the 1-999 range you wanna use).

Granted, it's not often we get the chance to express numbers like 9087-made by putting 九+千+八+十+七 together and reading it as  九千八十七きゅうせんはちじゅうなな, but it's good stuff to have in the mental filing cabinets, especially the combinations that yield unique readings, like 六百ろっぴゃく and 八千はっせん.
I know all this stuff can be a bit of a brain bender, so let's practice the mechanics of expressing them in Japanese with these sample numbers.




Drilling sucks-I know this first hand from all the stuff I still gotta get down pat-but it'll help you get them down natural, the same way drilling your hand movements, pitch motions or dance steps gets it to feel as natural as breathing. Remember your incentive for learning this and other stuff involving the language, and you can make all of that Japanese, your Japanese. By the way, if you're wondering what your money'll look like when you're in Japan, please look here for the current prints of coins and bills. For those loaded with more cash than they know what do to with, the big numbers are right around the corner.

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