冊: Counting Books This one's easy, the counter even looks like a book

    The Japanese counter 冊 (さつ/satsu) is generally used to count only one thing: books. Simple, isn't it? If you look closely, you'll see the kanji 冊 itself is a pictograph of a book, bound by a string. (Back in the day, Chinese tablets were bound this way.) After reading this guide, you'll be able to count all those tsundoku books that have been piling up by your bedside!

    Counting with 冊

    To start, let's look at a table showing you how to count using 冊. We've included the numbers one through ten, plus a few extras. For a general rules guide on Japanese counter pronunciation, please check out our main counters guide.

    Numeral Japanese Reading 1
    1 一冊 いっさつ
    2 二冊 にさつ
    3 三冊 さんさつ
    4 四冊 よんさつ
    5 五冊 ごさつ
    6 六冊 ろくさつ
    7 七冊 ななさつ (しちさつ)
    8 八冊 はちさつ/はっさつ
    9 九冊 きゅうさつ
    10 十冊 じゅっさつ/じっさつ
    11 十一冊 じゅういっさつ
    12 十二冊 じゅうにさつ
    100 百冊 ひゃくさつ
    1,000 千冊 せんさつ
    10,000 一万冊 いちまんさつ
    how many 何冊   なんさつ

    When to Use the Japanese Counter 冊

    The Japanese counter 冊 (さつ) is generally used to count only one thing: books.

    Here's some historical context for you: many years ago, the counter for books was 本 (ほん)—the counter used to count long, cylindrical, skinny objects. This is because "books" back then were actually scrolls, which are long and skinny. When bound books became the norm, the counter-makers came up with a new counter: 冊.

    Let's learn how to use it. There are only two categories, so it'll be a piece of 🍰!

    Books

    stack of books counter with japanese counter satsu

    You can count any kind of book with 冊. I'm not sure how I could explain this further, so let's jump straight to the example sentences:

    • コウイチは一日一冊本を読む。
    • Koichi reads one book a day.
    • トーフグオフィスには33冊の本と漫画がある。
    • There are thirty-three books and comics at the Tofugu office.
    • 図書館で絵本を8冊借りてきた。
    • I borrowed eight picture books from the library.
    • コウイチの書いた小説は二百万部売れた。
    • The novel Koichi wrote sold two million copies.

    There are some exceptions. If a book-like thing gets too thin, sometimes we'll use the 部 (ぶ) counter instead: pamphlets, booklets, and the like. That being said, it may depend on the speaker and on how thick the book-like thing is.

    Bound Files / Papers

    red three ring binder

    If you have a bunch of papers in a binder, you can count them using 冊. They're basically just homemade books, after all. Even notebooks or memo pads are counted this way!

    • お土産にメモ帳を19冊買った。
    • I bought nineteen memo pads as souvenirs.
    • 買ったばかりのノートを2冊、電車に置き忘れた。
    • I left two notebooks that I'd just bought on a train.
    • このファイル、100冊まとめ買いするなら、1冊あたり28.6円になるのでかなりお得ですよ。
    • If you buy one hundred of these files together, it will cost ¥28.6 per file, which is a really good deal.
    • この会議の資料二十部コピーしておいてくれない?
    • Could you make twenty copies of these meeting materials?

    That being said, if you are counting duplicated or copied documents (i.e., an agenda for a meeting) you would count them using 部.

    Go Count Some Books

    That was easy, right? I can tell you're excited. Now you can head down to your local library or bookstore and start counting… because now you know how! (Just tell them you're learning Japanese.)

    If you'd like to learn more about Japanese counters, we have many more articles for you—like the ones we wrote on the Japanese counters , , , , and !

    1. Cells with multiple entries divided by a / indicate multiple pronunciations that are equally common. Cells with entries in parentheses indicate that the parenthesized word is an uncommon or archaic pronunciation.