Japanese addressing system

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Nino83

Senior Member
Italian
Hello everyone.

I'm not shure how to translate the single terms and what they mean in practical terms.
If I understood something, there are prefectures ( 43 ken 県 , to 都 for Tokyo , dō 道 for Hokkaidō and fu 府 for Osaka and Kyoto) and municipalities (cities = shi 市, for town and villages there are gun 郡 = district + chō/machi 町 = town or mura/son 村 = village). Designates cities, 政令指定都市, have wards, ku 区, too. Until now there are no problems.

prefecture - city(/special ward) - ward
東京都渋谷区 Tōkyō-to Shibuya-ku
神奈川県川崎市麻生区 Kanagawa-ken Kawasaki-shi Asao-ku

prefecture - district - town/village
東京都西多摩郡日の出町 Tōkyō-to Nishitama-gun Hinode-machi

Now the problems begin. Let's make an example. A person lives in Yoyogi distric of Shibuya.
東京都渋谷区代々木1丁目10番5号 - Tōkyō-to Shibuya-ku Yoyogi 1 chōme 10 ban 5 gō (normally 1-10-5)

1) How are districts like Yoyogi called? Gaiku 街区?
2) What do chōme, banchi and gō exactly mean? Block, building and...?

Thank you
 
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  • Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Maybe I've understood. Let me know if there's something wrong.
    東京都渋谷区代々木1丁目10番5号
    Tōkyō-to => prefecture/capital
    Shibuya-ku => ward
    Yoyogi => district, their name should be chō 町 but it is not written in addresses
    1 chōme => sub-district
    10 ban => block
    5 gō => building number
     

    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Yoyogi => district, their name should be chō 町 but it is not written in addresses
    We have 大手町 and 神保町, etc. That would depend.

    I don't think 丁目, 番, and 号 have important meanings very much. 丁目 is the larger part than the two, and 号 is the smallest.
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Yoyogi => district, their name should be chō 町 but it is not written in addresses
    Yoyogi is just part of the name. It's Yoyogi Ni-chōme (代々木二丁目) in full. The name of this level of the addressing system is 町名 but entities on this level do not necessarily have 町 in their names. Like the 町 as a type of basic municipal unit, it has two pronunciations; machi and chō.

    Next, 10番 is a 街区番号 and belongs to a level called 街区 or a block. Finally, 3号 is a 住居番号 and specifies the building of the address.

    N.B. This system is not applied to all Japanese addresses.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you very much, frequency, Flaminius.
    The name of this level of the addressing system is 町名
    Good!
    but entities on this level do not necessarily have 町 in their names.
    Yes, you're right. I didn't intend to say that they should have 町 in their names (probably I didn't explain it well), but that they are some sort of machi (like the noun 町名 more or less seems to confirm).

    A little question.
    I search on google map the route from 一風堂 六本木店 Ippudo Roppongi to ブルーノート東京 Blue Note Tōkyō by foot and the indication is "tramite strade senza nome", i.e "through streets with no name". :D
    In "details" it says "proceed southwest". Southwest? :eek: One needs a compass at night. :)
    I'm curious to know if the Japanese version of Google Map is different, giving some, more useful, informations.
     
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    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Usually, many streets don't have their names, but sometimes I hear "Miyuki dōri" or something like that. If a street has such a nickname, it is called by it. Don't forget I'm roughly speaking as a resident of Japan.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thanks for the info. :thumbsup:
    So, if one wants to have some idea of a city, it's better to assign every chōme to a metro station (since a chōme could be quite large) and then look for the respective banchi (which should be ordered one after another).
    In order to see the direction, one could use the banchi number which are ordered simirarly to our civic numbers.
     

    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Good. I agree with you. If you want to go to Yoyogi 1-10-15, I recommend you remember this town name and all the numbers. First, go to 1 chōme as you said, and you look for the 10 ban block and 15.

    You can find address plates like this everywhere.nantoku.jpg
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    For your test route, Nino, I will give the following directions.

    1. As you leave the bar, turn left and walk up to the Minami-Aoyama 7 Chōme Crossing (see sign around the traffic light).
    2. Turn left and walk down the street until it merges with a larger road.
    3. This is Roppongi Street. Walk down the street past the Nishi-Azabu Crossing, until the Roppongi Crossing. It's about 15 minutes.
    4. Cross the Gaien Higashi Street that cuts through the R-street and turn left.
    5. Walk up to the first alley and turn right.
    6. You will soon see the rāmen shop on your right.

    The names of important crossings are written above their traffic lights. Nameless traffic lights are useful for navigation too; e.g., "Driver, please turn left at the second crossing from [some known landmark]." Large streets have names too. There are signs on the pavement along the road but I always feel they are far and few between. For reasons unknown to me, street names are less official than the names of crossings and perhaps that's why you don't see them on Google Maps.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you very much. :thumbsup:
    Are the names of streets and crossings written in kanji only? Probably there will be some people lost in Tokyo in 2020. :)
     
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    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Are the names of streets and crossings written in kanji only?
    Most road signs are bilingual, that is, they are in Japanese script (don't call it kanji!) and in English. By English I mean a transcription by the Hepburn method with English annotations. For example, Nihombashi, the bridge, is written:
    日本橋
    Nihonbashi Bridge

    A third language may be written under the English version in areas where there is need, such as Russian in Hokkaido. Like Frequency showed in #8, address plates may bear romanised versions too.

    You will see signs for trains, metros and buses in Tokyo that have Chinese and Korean versions on. Sometimes Chinese signs come in two flavours; Traditional and Simplified. Other cities such as Nagoya have Portuguese signs for Brazilians. I have heard of plans to set up signs in Thai and Vietnamese. Yet, we draw the line at Italian. :D Anyway, we have wandered far off the address system.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you very much!
    Now I'm sure (quite sure) that it's possible to hang around in Japanese cities without knowing the Japanese script (六本木 is easy because it is composed by very basic, common, characters but, for example, 渋谷, would be impossible for me). Hepburn Rōmaji is very good, I don't need anything else (I hope to have some basic knowledge of spoken Japanese when I go to Japan, not during the Olympic Games, of course).
    If I get lost I'll call you. :D
     
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