Two Time USA Memory Champion and Memory Training Speaker Ron White shares how to use memory training to learn how to count in Japanese:

When I was 12 years old I signed up to take Okinawan Karate. I really enjoyed weekly learning the same style of karate that Daniel from the movie The Karate Kid took. I learned self defense, the importance of exercise, gained confidence and even learned a little bit of Japanese! Now, to tell you the truth all I learned was counting and on a recent trip to Narita Japan I did discover it is very tough to carry on a conversation with just numbers! With that said, it is fun to learn bits and pieces of other languages and here is a real simple way to learn how to count in Japanese.

Oh by the way, this concept works for any language…

First of all to learn how to remember anything you need to select mental files or places to store the information. A file is usually nothing more than a place in a room that you have numbered or a location in a city. For a descritpiton of how to number mental files to create your very own memory training system I suggest that you watch this video:

The easiest way to build your first ten files might be to number 10 pieces of furniture in your living room. Go ahead and do that now and then come back when complete….

Okay, I am assuming that you have 10 pieces of furniture numbered now and you have laid the ground work for your very own memory training system and are well on your way to learning how to memorize anything.

You count to ten in Japanese this way:


On your first file, visualize yourself itching…you have poison ivy and you are itching.

Number two you hit your knee on this file.

Number three visualize the son in the sky for san

Number four see a girl running around on this file for shi (she)

Number give, see a green light for go

Number six, see a really cool person (maybe me. ha!) rowing a boat. Row-cool = Roku

Number seven, Shichi see a girl eating cheese (she-chee)

Number eight, visualize hot cheese or melted cheese….hot cheese = hachi

Number nine see that same really cool person here. Cool = Kyuu

Finally on number 10 see someone chewing. Chew = Juu

There you have it you have now used the loci memory training method to learn how to memorize counting in Japanese. The interesting thing about this memory system is that you could now count 1-10 or do a countdown from 10 to 1. If you had memorized how to count by singing a song or using some rhythm you wouldn’t be able to say it forward and backwards. Furthermore, if someone asks you, ‘What is 6 in Japanese?’ With this method you could go to your number 6 file and tell them, ‘Roku’ almost instantly. However, if you learned the numbers by rote memorization you would have to start at number one and go all the way up and doesn’t lend itself to speed.

Another interesting point about learning to count in a foreign language is that ‘go’ means five and you file it to your 5th file. Juu means 10 and you file it to your 10th file. So if you wanted to learn how to memorize counting in any language with this memory training system you would take the French, German, Hebrew, Latin, Spanish or any language and put the word for 5 on the 5th file, the word for 8 on the 8th file and so on.

There you have it. My name is Ron White and I am a two time USA Memory Champion. This is the same method I used when I became a memory champion and you can use the method to memorize counting in any language.