Addresses in Japan

Posted on December 11, 2006 | evankirby

Even though U2's song "Where the streets have no name" is about Africa, it applies just as well to Japan. Everyone who has lived here has had the experience of trying to find a location from an address, and going round and round in circles trying to find that particular building. The reason for this is Japan's peculiar addressing system.
An address in Japan often looks something like this:
福岡県 (Fukuokaken, Fukuoka Prefecture)
福岡市 (Fukuokashi, Fukuoka City)
中央区 (Chuuouku, Central Ward)
大名二丁目九番地五番 (Daimyou nichoume kyuubanchi goban)

(For those interested, this is the school address.)

First, addresses are generally written in the reverse order of English, from most vague location to most precise.

1) First comes the zip code. 7-digit zip codes have been used in Japan since 1968, but they are still not mandatory, and many people leave them off when writing addresses on envelopes.
2) Next is the prefecture, followed by the city (or, in rural areas, the 郡 (gun, district).
3) Next is the ward. Each city or town is divided into several of these wards, and they are often named based on their position. For example, Fukuoka has a 中央区, 西区 (Nishiku, West Ward), 東区 (Higashiku, East Ward), and 南区 (Minamiku, South Ward), among others.
4) Finally comes the specific address part. This breaks down like this:

Cellphones, is there anything you can't do?

Posted on December 11, 2006 | evankirby

A member of our staff purchased life insurance recently, and the salesperson came to the school to finalize the contract. After the staff member filled out the paper application, the salesperson pulled out her cellphone, opened a special program, and started registering the application information with the central office using that tiny keypad. It took about 5 minutes in total (including more than a few do-overs from fumbled fingers...).
We were surprised that someone would use a cellphone for something like this, where a laptop would seem to be much more suitable, but it seems that for a fleet of roving salespeople who mostly work part-time, the cellphone is the perfect tool, as everyone carries it with them anyway. Even so, we don't look forward to the day when people ask us to teach Japanese by cellphone...