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Japanese Addresses

Here is something else to be learned about Japan. Addresses are done a bit differently than they are in the United States. See, except for major roads, the streets of Japan are not named.

Instead, the 47 prefectures of Japan (think, states) are divided into cities and towns (Tokyo has 23), which are then subdivided into neighborhoods and blocks. I will use the address of my school as an example.

2-8-12 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku
Tokyo 106-0047, Japan

Okay, I’ll go from largest to smallest division for simplicity. Japan: well that’s easy enough, the country. 106-0047: the postal code, the Japanese version of American zip codes. Tokyo: the prefecture, the largest subdivision of Japanese territory, of which there are 47. Minato-ku: the city within Tokyo. (Specifically, Tokyo, the prefecture, has 23 such cities, along with smaller towns and islands). Minami Azabu: the neighborhood within the city of Minato. 2-8-12: the block, and individual building number.

To complicate matters for no readily understood reason, the buildings aren’t numbered in a geographical sequence, but rather in temporal order of construction. So, finding a new address involves some searching. This might be why everyone I have ever asked for directions in Japan has always had an atlas or map.

Riding a major boulevard in Japan will display street signs, but rather than displaying street names, they show neighborhood names and block numbers. Forgive me if this is a result of my ethnocentricity, but I’d take an American address for simplicity any day, though I do like the technical neighborhood divisions.

Jaa ne,

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