Japan: Mail – Lost and Found


It’s really hard to navigate around Japan!  Most small streets have no name, addresses refer to a series of concentric areas, streets are sometimes numbered according to when they were built rather than their location, and taxi drivers respond to landmarks not street numbers!  Even with GPS assistance, I got lost countless times.  I shouldn’t feel so bad though, because even locals need to ask for directions!  Here’s an example of  how complicated just reading it can be:

東京都  千代田区  丸の内二丁目  7番  2号

Apparently it encodes the:

  • Postal code
  • Prefecture: 都 (to) for Tokyo,  道 (dō) for Hokkaidō and 府 (fu) for Osaka and Kyoto.
  • Municipality: Large cities use 市 (shi), most cities have wards 区 (ku), which can be further divided up into 町 (chō / machi) or village 村 (mura / son)
  • City district: 丁目 (chōme)
  • City block #: 番地 (banchi)
  • House #: 号 (gō) Based on when the house / building was built or assigned in clockwise order around the city block.
  • Name of place

What makes this even more difficult for a foreigner like me is searching Google Maps with Romaji (alphabets) and not getting exact matches!  It can be very frustrating not understanding Japanese!

Japan mailboxes