Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

In today’s lesson, we will review the Japanese currency so that you know what the denominations are and you know the numbers that will come up when shopping. Now in English, we refer to the Japanese currency as the Yen but in Japanese, we actually call it en. It’s a much lighter sound en. Now the foreign exchange rate is always fluctuating. So I won’t refer to it here but I like to calculate it as roughly ¥100 a dollar. Using this equation, a ¥1000 bill is like a ¥10 bill.
As for phrases necessary for foreign exchange, we will cover that in the next lesson. First, let’s go over how to say large numbers in Japanese. We covered 1 to 10 in a previous lesson. To recap, here it is. One is ichi, two is ni, three is san, four is yon or shi. There is two options right there. Five is go, Six is roku, Seven can be either nana or shichi. Eight is hachi, Nine is kyū and Ten is jū. Yeah that’s a lot of information.
So 1 to 10 altogether is ichi, ni, san, shi or yon, go, roku, nana or shichi eight is hachi, kyū, jū.. Now to say any number between 10 and 99, you simply combine the numbers 1 to 10. For example, for 68, you would literally just say 6, 10, 8. So that would be roku-jū-hachi. roku-jū-hachi. Literally just 6, 10 and 8. Which coins would you use to pay that? Well there are several combinations but one way is to use one ¥50 coin, one ¥10 coin, one ¥5 coin and three ¥1 coins. That adds up to 68 right? Yes, it does yes.
Now we also have ¥100 coins and ¥500 coins. In Japanese, 100 is hyaku hya-ku. hyaku.. To say 500, simply say the words Five and 100 in a row. So that would be go-hyaku. gohyaku. Typically it’s just the number 1 to 10 plus hyaku but the exceptions are 300 becomes san-byaku 400 and 500 are just normal yonhyaku, gohyaku but 600 becomes roppyaku because it’s just easier to say roppyaku rather than roku-hyaku because that’s kind of awkward right and 800 becomes happyaku for the same reason. So let’s go over the bills.
Now in Japan, we have ¥1000 bill, ¥5000 bill and the largest ¥10,000 bill. Now we actually also have the ¥2000 bill that was printed back in the year 2000 to celebrate the new millennium but I rarely see them used. Perhaps people are keeping them at home as souvenirs. I know I did that for about 3 years after it came out. Now let’s cover the numbers we need to talk about these bills. In Japanese 1000 is sen, ¥1000 is simply sen-en. sen-en. ¥2000 would be a combination of the number 2 1000 and yen. So it would be nisen-en. ni-sen-en. nisen-en. and using the same logic, ¥5000 would be gosen-en. go-sen-en. gosen-en..
Now comes the complicated part, yes. In Japanese, 10,000 is not simply pronounced ten and thousand. We actually have another word specifically to mean 10,000. That word is man. So ¥10,000 is ichiman-en. ichi-man-en.. So ¥20,000 would be ni-man-en. niman-en, ¥30,000 is sanman-en and so forth. Once you are in Japan and you actually have an ichiman-en bill in your hand, you will get used to the concept and I have noticed that a lot of foreign residents who live here, they just get used to the man-en concept that they stick that in an English conversation. They say oh, I have three man or hey, I have 5 man. It’s just easier when you get used to the bills.
So for today’s Sachiko secret, we will talk money. Yes my favorite topic, not. I actually have a very sweet story related to money. The ¥5 coin is considered a good luck charm for finding that someone special. Why would a cheap coin that buys almost nothing be considered lucky? Because it covers the 5% tax when you buy a ¥100 product. No seriously, the real reason is that because ¥5 is called go-en. in Japanese which is a homophone with the word goen. Goen which is a word to describe karma or destiny in meeting someone.
That’s why a ¥5 coin is commonly given as a donation at Shinto shrines and also you will see nicely wrapped ¥5 coins in a box at a souvenir shop. That’s a gift that says, I hope you meet that someone special in your life. Try it, get one for yourself or for a friend and see what happens. If it works give us a post. Okay so to close our today’s lesson, let’s practice what you’ve just learned. I will give you the English equivalent of the phrase and you are responsible for shouting it out loud in Japanese. You got that. I will give you a few seconds before I give you the answer. So good luck Ganbatte kudasai. 100 hyaku, hya-ku, hyaku, 1000 sen, se-n, sen. 5000 gosen, go-se-n, gosen. 10000 man, ma-n, man. All right, that’s going to do it for today. See you later which in Japanese is Matane.

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