More Ways of Counting in Japanese with "Ippon Demo Ninjin"

My student shared the funny song "Ippon Demo Ninjin" with us recently.

It's pretty pun-tastic, and very catchy.

It's also a good way to learn and practice some more counters (those words we stick on the end of numbers in Japanese, depending on what's being counted).

(Part 1)
1! いっぽん  でも  にんじん     Ichi! Ippon demo ninjin
2! にそく  でも  サンダル     Ni! Nisoku demo sandaru
3! さんそう  でも  ヨット     San! Sansou demo yotto
4!  よつぶ  でも  ごましお     Yon! Yotsubu demo gomashio
5! ごだい  でも  ロケット    Go! Godai demo roketto
6! ろくわ  でも  しちめんちょう    Roku! Rokuwa demo shichimencho
7! しちひき  でも  はち     Shichi! Shichihiki demo hachi
8! はっとう  でも  くじら     Hachi! Hattou demo kujira
9! きゅうはい  でも  ジュース     Kyuu! Kyuuhai demo juusu
10! じゅっこ  でも  いちご     Juu! Jukko demo ichigo

いちご、 にんじん、 サンダル、 ヨット、 ごましお、 ロケット、しちめんちょう 、はち、くじら、ジュース
Ichigo, ninjin, sandaru, yotto, gomashio, roketto, shichimencho, hachi, kujira, juusu
Strawberry, carrot, sandal, yacht, sesame and salt, rocket, turkey, bee, whale, juice

(Dance break)

(Repeat Part 1)

いっぽん、 にそく、 さんそう、 よつぶ、 ごだい、ろくわ、しちひき、はっとう、きゅうはい、 じゅっこ!
Ippon, nisoku, sansou, yotsubu, godai, rokuwa, shikihiki, hattou, kyuuhai, jukko!
One long thin thing, two shoes, three boats, four small round things, five vehicles, six birds, seven small animals, eight large animals, nine cups, ten small things!

The joke here is that all the numbers are "wrong"...

The beginning of ninjin (carrot) sounds like "ni" (two) but there's only one carrot.

And the beginning of sandaru (sandles) sounds like "san" (three) but...there are only two sandals!

We could translate いっぽん  でも  にんじん  Ippon demo ninjin, therefore, as:
"It's only one, but it's ninjin."
"Even if there's only one, a carrot is ninjin."
(Trust me, it sounds better in Japanese.)

Anyway, listen again and try and sing along.

I haven't translated the whole thing for you, just bits. See if you can work the rest of it out!

Three Favourite Japanese Jokes

The worst job interview I ever had started with the interviewer asking me to tell him a joke.

I sat there flustered for a while before mumbling something about a man walking into a bar. The interviewer rolled his eyes. Needless to say I didn't get the job.

Sitting in a smokey cafe after the interview I remembered The Michael Jackson Joke which is probably the best beginner-Japanese joke of all time. I should've told him that one! Although he probably would have rolled his eyes at that too...

They say explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog - you understand it better but the frog dies in the process. So with that in mind, here are my three favourite, brilliant, terrible Japanese jokes. Happy Friday!


Maikeru Jakkuson no sukina iro wa nan desu ka.

"What's Michael Jackson's favourite colour?"

You have to really commit to the punchline for this one. You can even tell the question in English and the punchline in Japanese, as long as the person you're speaking to knows the Japanese word ao.

I once told The Michael Jackson Joke to a friend while standing at a traffic light in Nagoya and a stranger in front of us burst out laughing. True story.

↓ (Skip to 1:05)

「どうしてハワイ人は歯医者に行かないの? 」

Doushite Hawaii jin wa haisha ni ikanai no?
Ha wa ii kara.

"Why don't Hawaiians go to the dentist?"
"Because their teeth (=ha) are good (=ii)"

My friend Kendal sent me this one last week. ありがとうケンダル!


Panda no sukina esa wa?
Pan da.

"What's a panda's favourite food?"
"Bread (=pan)"
Pandas and puns are probably two of my favourite things. This joke has both.

What's your favourite Japanese joke? Have you ever told a joke in a job interview? Let me know in the comments!