Learn the Japanese Gestures for Counting!

Has the following ever happened to you? You're out shopping or getting a meal in Japan, and you've shown the staff how many things you want or the number of people in your party by holding up the appropriate number of fingers, but they didn't understand... This is because the way you count with your hands differs between countries! Here is a short tutorial on the gestures that Japanese people use when counting with their hands!


Japanese Culture

Along with this video, there are photos and explanations below to guide you!






As seen in the above photos, the gestures for counting from 1 to 5 is very simple, and are the same in many other countries.

However, it gets a bit tricky from 6, so make sure you're paying attention!


Open up one of your hands as you would when indicating 5. Make a 1 with your other hand and place it on the palm of the first hand.


Again, make a 5 with one hand, then make a 2 with your other hand and place it on the palm of the first hand.


Make a 5 with one hand and 3 in the other, placing it on the palm of the first hand.


Make a 5 with one hand and 4 in the other, placing it on the palm of the first hand.


For 10, spread out all the fingers on both of your hands.

Were there any surprises? Is the way they count in Japan different from your country?

In Japanese, there are different counters to add after a number depending on what kind of object you're talking about, which can get very confusing! But now that you know how to indicate numbers by gesturing with your hands, you can get around without having to learn the Japanese words for each number or those tricky counters! 

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

Restaurant Search