Best method for learning counters?

I don’t know about you guys, but for me Japanese counters have been one of those things that I have attempted to put off for sometime. Although recently they have been showing up more and more frequently in my reading. So I guess its time to finally tackle them. So I must ask, with so many counters to learn what methods worked well for you?

  • Write them down?
  • Repeat them to oneself?
  • Anki decks?
  • Any websites that help?
  • Slowly learn from exposure?
  • Any other methods?

Any recommendations are very welcome, as I would like to avoid an inefficient time sink, so I can focus more time to grammar (^O^)/


I personally think counters is one of those things you shouldn’t bother actually learning. If you consume enough Japanese content you will learn them naturally.

The only exception to that would be counters that are extremely common such as ko, hon, hiki, tsu, dai, etc. There’s about a dozen or so, I’d say, which you have to specifically learn because you would need to use them in real life.

The rest can be acquired through natural exposure. And even if you need to use a counter in a sentence for something you have no idea which counter to apply - just use “generic” counter and that would be fine in 99,999% of situations.

That’s my two cents. My approach to learning Japanese is - “don’t work too hard if you can work less hard while achieving the same result” :slight_smile:


First of all, for counters, exposure is your best friend here.

Secondly, Wanikani actually has a free spreadsheet with the 350 most common counters, so using that one is a very good way to get to know them.

Also important to note, the most frequently used ones are quite abstract and strange,

but once you go further down the list, the counters become basically the words themselves, or a logical derivative of the word. So you just have to know that they exist, rather than what they are exactly. Once you remember that plates have their own counter, just simply remember the kanji for plates.


So once you know the kanji for certain words, their counters become pretty easy.

I saw you are currently level 13 on Wanikani, so the amount of counters you are going to learn in the future is already quite big.
Of course learning them ahead of Wanikani is always great, but I personally never really invested time into it and now at level 60 I’m quite versatile with counters.


Thank you @Pep95 & @Kuromaku (Ainz!), for the taking the time to break down your methods and provide that super useful Googledoc! I’ll take your advice and begin spending time focusing on essential counters, and allow the rest to come from immersion and exposure.

Its also awesome to know they become less abstract and more logical, It helps make them seem just that little bit less intimidating. :smiley:


If you want to drill yourself, this website might come in handy. It’s still a little rusty, but it’s worth a shot, methinks :slight_smile: