Category: measuring unit


Bu (分) is a traditional Japanese measure of length, equal to about 0.303 cm. It is part of the Japanese Shakkanhô system, which was adopted by China and is a general system for units of measurement.


Chô (町) is a unit of length equal to about 109 meters. This unit of measurement belongs to the Japanese Shakkanhô system and is not in use today. Occasionally, however, one still comes across it in the literature when distances are given in chô.


Kanejaku (曲尺) is a traditional Japanese unit of measurement. It is hardly used in everyday life since the metric system was introduced. A shaku is about 30.3 cm, which makes it comparable to a cubit. In shibari, a shaku occurs in the shakuhachi pattern, for example.

Since the Kanejaku is the “normal” and most common length (other than the Kujirajaku), it is often referred to simply as “Shaku” (尺).

The next smaller unit is Sun (寸). One Kanejaku consists of ten Sun.


Ken (間) is a measure of length equal to about 1.81 meters. It is part of the traditional Shakkanhô system, which originated in China and defines units of measurement for lengths, volumes, weights, areas and money.

The reading “Ken” for this Kanji is rare nowadays and hardly used anymore. It only applies to this measuring unit.


Ri (理) is a unit of length equal to approximately 3.9 kilometers. As a measure of length, it is often used to measure distances, for example between cities, and is the standard measure for this purpose, similar to the English mile or the German kilometer. Today, the metric system is generally used in Japan, but in novels, the ri is still frequently used to indicate distance.

It is part of the Japanese Shakkanhô system, which was used to measure lengths, areas, volumes, weights and money.

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