20 April, 2017

Write your name on your wall

One aspect of Japan that I never knew before I came here was that many people who live in houses have their names on the wall (or at least the mailbox) in front of their houses. 

This is the name plate of one of our neighbour's.

This is ours. It's a lot cheaper than most that you see around. It also has our address on it, but I've edited that out. 

Right next to it is our doorbell, which is also an intercom. I don't usually use the intercom as Japanese is hard enough when you've got visual cues, take that away and I'm really struggling. However the intercom has two access points inside the house (one upstairs and one down), we use it between floors, often to call children to meals.

All the houses are also numbered, but not in a linear way along a street like they are in many countries, the numbering seems to be random (although I'm sure it is not). In fact most streets don't have names. So our address consists of our suburb name, the number of our area of the suburb, the number of our block, and the house number: 1-19-10. Japanese addresses are also opposite to western addresses in that they start big and go small. So you start with Japan or with your city and the last number is your house number, unless you write the address in "English" or "Roman" letters and then the order is the same as what we're used to in Australia: smallest unit to largest unit.

Here's a post showing there are many different types of name plates.


Gary Bauman said...

Someone told me years ago that the house numbers within a block are in the order of when they were built. I'm sure that doesn't always hold true anymore, but it may be the reason for the randomness in older areas.

Karen Ellrick said...

My observation in urban areas is that they try to start numbering in the north-west corner of the block and increment clockwise. But there are exceptions, perhaps caused by parks or other unnumbered areas later made into buildings, or lots sold and divided into multiples. I also see numbers skipped, no doubt due to multiple smaller lots redeveloped as a single larger building, which is pretty common.

Caroline said...

Which leaves me wondering, when you go to a new place, how do,you find it?

Wendy said...

Good question! Google maps has helped a lot, but generally you need directions and landmarks or a map. A mobile phone number also helps for when you get lost.

Karen Ellrick said...

Actually, I haven't found it much more difficult than street addresses in the U.S., because a street could extend for many miles through a city, and if you're not familiar with the street you don't even know where to start looking for it. I remember using maps (back when maps were on paper!) and looking up the street in the index and seeing that it extends from B3-H10 or something. And sometimes a street can change names and then later change back to the original name, and/or change direction (B3-D2,F4-H10). In Japan, the parts of the address help you zero in on the location, and they are always in order from largest to smallest. First you have the prefecture (like a state). Then the city/town (or if it's an unincorporated rural area it would be a "gun" instead, which is like a large county). Then in a large city you would have the "ward" or section of the city, which most local people would have heard of. Next you'd have a community name ("machi" or "cho" in Japanese - I'm not sure what to call it in English). Then you have a series of numbers separated by a hyphen - if there are only two numbers, they are the block and building numbers; if there are three, the community is large and divided into numbered "chome" (there is definitely no English word for that), so the numbers are the chome, block, and building. Sure, the name of a machi doesn't by itself tell you where it is, but neither does a street name.