Units That Are Commonly Used in Japan
Update: 31 August 2016

Units That Are Commonly Used in Japan

While you might encounter familiar units such as kilometers or the Japanese yen, Japan also makes use of unique units to measure different kinds of food or things. Do you know how to measure sushi? Let's find out!


Japan uses the metric system and, as such, you'll encounter the kilometer on maps and signs all over the country. As a reminder: 1 kilometer is about 1,094 yards, or about 3,281 feet.

"Kilometers per hour"

Naturally, speed is measured in the metric system in kilometers as well instead of the imperial "miles per hour". One mile is about 1.6 kilometers. Generally the maximum speed on regular roads is 60 km/h and on highways it is 100 km/h in Japan.

Monetary unit "yen"

The unit of money used in Japan is "yen". There are 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen and 500 yen coins. 5 yen coins and 50 yen coins have a hole in the center. 1,000 yen, 5,000 yen and 10,000 yen each have their own bill and are the most common way of payment.

A unit for rice: go

Japan has its own way of counting and measuring food. When Japanese people cook rice, Japan's staple food, they use the unit "go". 1 go is 180 milliliters. Rice is generally measured using special cups that are sold in most grocery shops.

Counting sushi: kan

When Japanese people count sushi, they use the unit kan. At a conveyor-belt style sushi restaurants, however, one plate usually has two kan of sushi, so they count the number of plates instead: hitosara means one plate.

Measuring sake: sho

Japanese sake is counted in sho. 1 sho is 1800 milliliters. Other units which are not used in daily life but rather by brewing companies and manufacturers are to (18 liters) and seki (180 liters).

Measuring space: jo

Japan also has a unique unit for space. Based on the tatami mats typical of Japanese-style homes, Japanese people usually measure rooms in jo. 1 jo is the size of 1 tatami mat, which is about 1.6 square meters. In addition, when measuring land, the unit tsubo is used. 1 tsubo is 3.31 square meters.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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