Show Me the Money

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Japanese numbering is different from Western numbering. Most western countries break numbers into units of 1000s: thousands, millions, billions, … In Japan, numbers are separated into units of 10,000s. No Man Just SenI was surprised when I saw this window sticker on a used car lot. The car price is listed as 378 thousand yen (378千円); the two kanji after the 8 being ‘thousand’ and ‘yen’. Normally this price in Japanese would be 37 ten thousands and 8 thousands, which is displayed as 37 followed by an 8 in a smaller font and different color, finalized with the kanji for ‘ten thousand’ and ‘yen’ (万円). This photo was taken in April and I haven’t noticed a similar one yet. Perhaps this is a first step in a shift toward use of Western numbering; although, I think this would lose the average Japanese person. I have trouble convincing most people that thirteen hundred is the same as one thousand three hundred.

This car would have been about $3500 at the time. According to the sticker it is a 10 year old 2 wheel drive Honda ACTY truck with only 14,000 km on the odometer. It has a 660cc engine (less than half the size of the smallest car sold in America) and no air conditioner. Assuming the truck is in good running order, the low price is probably because the mandatory inspection, tax, and insurance was set to expire in one month – May 2008 – and will have to be renewed for two years – adding a pretty penny to the price.

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