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The Kanji 九, nine

This is 5 Minute Kanji, and today we are going to go over a dancing kanji this time, the kanji for nine.


How CUte! Look at the 9 dancers, dressed to the 9s dancing to the KUs of the doves sitting on the KOKONOTSU.


kyuu, ku


kokonotsu, kokono

Like the other number kanji, the onyomi is used when counting up in Japanese, while the kunyomi ここのつ is used as a generic counter for objects that don’t have a specific counter.

Mnemonic Factory

The kanji looks like a person trying to hook 9 fish. Or a woman dressed to the 9s in a dress. Or it could be a detective, down on all fours, looking for 9 KLUes to the crime. The key point to remember is that the kanji for nine has a hook on the right side.

The kanji for power looks a lot like it, but doesn’t have the hook. And the kanji for katana or a blade also looks similar but doesn’t have a hat or top to it.

The onyomi mnemonic has a lot of possibilities. You can talk about a QUEUE, as in a line of people waiting for something. Or you can talk about a KYUpon you use to save some money. Be careful, though. The Japanese word for coupon is actually クーポン. So this mnemonic could actually work for both of the onyomi readings . You can also use COOl for the sound. So you can imagine a pack of 9 CUte and COOl Ninjas.

For kunyomi, you are pretty much stuck with KOKONOTSU, as in the tropical fruit. But that’s not so bad. Who doesn’t like KOKONOTSU?

Example Words

How about a few examples where these words are used?

For onyomi, we have きゅう for 9. As I said in earlier videos, the kanji itself is rarely used in everyday situations. You will most likely see it on formal documents, awards, or price lists at old fashioned restaurants. The month of September uses the shorter reading く, so we would say 九月くがつ. The く reading is also used in 九九くく, or multiplication table.

For 9 people, we can actually use both, 九人きゅうにん or 九人くにん for 9 people. And another useful word is 九州きゅうしゅう, which literally means 9 states, but it is the name for the large westernmost island that forms the Japanese mainland, which used to have 9 states. However, in modern day Japan, the area has 7 prefectures in it – 福岡ふくおか佐賀さが、 長崎ながさき大分おおいた熊本くまもと宮崎みやざき、and 鹿児島かごしま.

There is the generic counter ここの, used to count objects that don’t have a counter of their own or you forgot which one to use.

The day of the month also uses the kunyomi. We say 九日ここのか for the 9th day of the month.

Story Review

Can you remember the story from the beginning? Let’s give it a try, and yell out the words that are missing.

How __te! Look at the _ dancers, dressed to the _s dancing to the __s of the doves sitting on the _________.

Perfect? Let’s give it another try.

How __te! Look at the _ dancers, dressed to the _s dancing to the __s of the doves sitting on the _________.

Word Review

Can you read these? I’ll give you the kanji and please yell out the reading for each word







That’s it for the kanji for nine. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below. If you’d like to learn more kanji, hit the subscribe button and hit the bell mark to get a notification every time I send out a new video. Also be sure to check out my other 5 Minute Kanji videos.