How to read addresses in Japan
How you read an address differs depending on which country you live in, and it may be confusing whenever you’re new to a country.
I will go through the basic steps of how to read an address in Japan.
- Postal Code
- Block number
- Apartment name/ room number
Postal Code (郵便番号, yūbinbangō)
First, the postal code/ ZIP code is written after the symbol “〒”, which stands for postal code.
In Japan, this postal code is written with 3 digits in the first half, then followed by 4 digits:
The first 3-5 digits are able to identify from the prefecture you live in, and up until the postal delivery ward of your location. For example, all Tokyo postal codes start with 1, and all Osaka postal codes start with 5. Then, the following 2-4 digits are able to identify the town area. These postal codes in essence are written from bigger to smaller areas; from prefectures to towns.
Therefore, it is important to know your postal code to provide easy reading and an accurate location for any delivery to be made!
Check your postal code here: https://japan-postcode.810popo.net/
Prefecture (都道府県, todōfuken)
Japanese addresses begin with the biggest area, the prefecture.
There are 47 prefectures in Japan and 43 of them are called ken (県): Kanagawa-ken, Chiba-ken, Okinawa-ken, etc. The remaining 4 have different endings like Tokyo-to (都), Osaka-fu (府), Kyoto-fu (府) and Hokkai-do (道).
Municipality (市区町村, shiku chōson)
The next division after the prefecture is the municipality. There are three possibilities to this: ward (区, ku), city (市, shi), or county (群, gun).
Ward is often used when there is a large population. City is used when there isn’t enough of a population to be called a ward, and county is used when there isn’t enough of a population to be called a city.
There are some addresses that are broken down into towns (町, cho/machi) or villages (村, son/mura), but not all addresses contain this.
Block number (番地, banchi)
Then the address typically contains block number (番地, banchi), street number (丁目, chome, and house number (号, gō). These three are usually separated by hyphens instead of the kanji.
東京都港区港南 2 – 16 – 1
Apartment name and room number
Lastly, the name of the apartment building and room number may be written down after the block number. If the address doesn’t contain an apartment name, just the room number may be added to the hyphen immediately after the block number.
with apartment name: 2番地16丁目1号 ○○○アパート 202号室
2 – 16 – 1 ○○○アパート202号室
without apartment name: 2番地16丁目1号202号室
2 – 16 – 1 – 202