Monday, April 26, 2010

Kanji Beginner: Yen and Common Money Amounts

Today we have more useful characters for life and shopping...

Yen, said as "en" in Japanese, is written as 円. The way I learned this one was through a book's mnemonic device that it looked like a bank teller's window. It can also mean "round", but we'll stick with the money meaning for now.

If you remember the numbers we started learning in a previous installment, you can now say 1-3 yen. 一円、"ichi en", 二円 "ni en"、三円 "san en".

Here are common number denominations you'll see, as they correspond with Japanese bill amounts, and the pronunciation used in this case.

五=5 "go"
十=10 "juu"
百=100 "hyaku" (turn it to the left, on its side, to see a sort of 1, 0, and 0)
千= 1,000 "sen" (I see it as a "T", like "thousand")
万=10,000 "man"

Below are some cash bill or coin amounts: can you guess what they are?


Answers: juu-en (10 yen), go-juu-en (50 yen), hyaku-en (100 yen), go-hyaku-en (500 yen)

二千円 (said to be unlucky, as in America)

Answers: sen-en (1000 yen), ni-sen-en (2,000 yen), go-sen-en (5,000 yen), ichi-man-en (10,000 yen)

A quick and dirty way to convert dollars to yen is that 100 yen is about a buck, and 10,000 yen is about $100. So if the restaurant you're eyeing has dishes starting at 五万円, you might want to skip it. Or if you have that kind of money... uh... send me some? :D

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