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How to Read Japanese Addresses

Essential Info

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There are two major types of addressing systems in the world. The first is the way of writing an address in order from the smallest division to the largest. This is how they are written in the West, where street names are written first, followed by states and prefectures.
Then, there is the way addresses are written in countries such as Japan, China, and Iran, where larger divisions are written first, followed by smaller divisions. Japanese addresses are written in the order of postal code, prefecture, municipality, town, district, land number, and building name (there are some addresses in rural areas where districts are not included).

For example, the address of the National Tourist Organization is written as shown below.

(When written in Roman characters) 10th Floor, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan Building, 2-10-1Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0006
(In the order when written in Japanese) 100-0006, TOKYO, Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 2-10-1, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan Building, 10th Floor

A big difference between addresses written in Japan and addresses written in the West is that divisions in Japanese addresses are written in blocks until the end. Large or distinctive streets also have names in Japan, but they are not included in addresses.

When Searching for a Location with an Address

When visiting a location where only the address is known, using an Internet map service is usually recommended. When reaching the general area of the destination but the specific location cannot be found, please look for a telephone pole. There should be several telephone poles that indicate the town name, district, and land number. There are also mailboxes of buildings and homes that have their addresses written on them.
Land numbers in Japan are assigned clockwise by block. For example, if the address of your current location is land number 8 and you are looking for land number 11, you should go around the block in the clockwise direction. If the addresses on that block end at land number 10, there should be an adjacent block where the addresses start at land number 11.

When Sending Letters or Packages

If you cannot write Japanese, please write the addresses in Japanese order in Roman characters. Japanese postal employees and commercial deliverers can comprehend addresses written in Roman characters.
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