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<title>Japanese addresses: No street names. Block numbers. | Derek Sivers</title>
<meta name="description" content="I love learning something that flips my head upside down.  So, let’s look at one of the coolest head-flippers I’ve found:  Japanese addresses.">
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<h1><a href="/" title="Derek Sivers">Derek Sivers</a></h1>
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<div class="blogparent"><a href="/blog">Articles</a>:</div>
<h1>Japanese addresses: No street names. Block numbers.</h1>
<small>2009-06-22</small>
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<p>
	I love learning something that flips my head upside down.
	So, let’s look at one of the coolest head-flippers I’ve found:
	Japanese addresses.
</p><p>
	Imagine you’re standing in Chicago and a Japanese man asks you, “What’s the name of this block?”
</p>
<img src="/images/japmap-chicago.jpg" alt="map of Chicago" />
<p>
	Thinking you’ve misunderstood the question, you say, “This is Erie Street. We’re between Wabash Ave and Rush Street.”
</p><p>
	But the man asks you again, “No. Not the streets. The block. <strong>What’s the name of this block?</strong>”
</p>
<img src="/images/japmap-blockq.jpg" alt="map of what are blocks?" />
<p>
	You say, “Uh. That’s the block between Huron and Erie, between Wabash and Rush.”
</p><p>
	Blocks don’t have names!
	Streets have names!
	Blocks are just the un-named spaces in-between streets.
</p><p>
	He leaves disappointed.
	You shrug and continue watching the gorgeous people of Chicago.
</p>
<hr />
<p>
	Now imagine you’re standing in Tokyo.
	You ask someone, “What’s the name of this street?”
</p>
<img src="/images/japmap-noname.jpg" alt="map of no names" />
<p>
	Thinking she’s misunderstood the question, she says, “This is block 5. That is block 8.”
</p><p>
	But you ask again, “Huh? No. Not the block. The street. <strong>What’s the name of this street?</strong>”
</p>
<img src="/images/japmap-streetq.jpg" alt="map of what are streets?" />
<p>
	She says again, “Uh. This is block 5. That is block 8.”
</p><p>
	See:
<strong>
	In most of Japan, streets don’t have names!
	Blocks have numbers!
	Streets are just the empty space in-between blocks.
</strong>
</p>
<img src="/images/japmap-blocknum.jpg" alt="map of numbered blocks" />
<p>
	And the buildings on the block are numbered in order of age.
	The first building built there is #1.
	The second is #2, even if it’s on the opposite side.
</p>
<img src="/images/japmap-housenum.jpg" alt="map of numbered houses" />
<p>
	Mailing addresses in Japan, after naming the province and city, are a series of three numbers: district number, block number, building number.
	That’s how the building is found.
	No street names.
</p><p>
	As an example, look at a <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&amp;source=s_q&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=tokyo&amp;sll=41.894084,-87.62352&amp;sspn=0.006469,0.013947&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=35.640732,139.665222&amp;spn=0.001766,0.003487&amp;z=19&amp;iwloc=A">map of Tokyo</a>.
	Notice the blocks have little numbers on them: 29, 39, 38, 37, 40, 41.
	And the street names really are empty.
</p>
<img src="/images/japmap-tokyo.jpg" alt="map of Tokyo" />
<p>
	See <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_addressing_system">the Wikipedia page for the Japanese addressing system</a> if you are interested in learning more about that.
</p><p>
	This makes me wonder what other assumptions I’ve been making in my life or business, that could just as easily be the opposite.
</p>

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© 2009 <a href="https://sive.rs/">Derek Sivers</a>.
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