Thursday, September 18, 2008

I had to laugh at this...


I was looking for a site to explain Japanese address formats. I came across this helpful post. It was not exactly what I needed, but the way it introduced itself entertained me greatly. I suppose my reaction relates to my Ron`s Nihonjin observations (a project which I seem to have dropped, by the way):
Japanese addresses reflect the primacy of the group in Japan.
They proceed from the general (the prefecture, or Japan itself for mail to Japan) to the particular (the addressee).
I just love the pervasiveness of this foreigners` language of packaging up just about every experience in Japan in these crap descriptive ideologies. Even in addressing conventions, people can find evidence for this stuff (or, rather, they simply have to apply the ideology, which has no need for evidence and does not rely on it). I am sure some Japanese old choffer has written something like this, but that of course is only evidence that Japanese old choffer writers of the "Nihonjinron" school are notorious bullshitters. I just can't help thinking that, rather than reflecting "the primacy of the group in Japan", this might be rather better understood as simply another (the other?) logical way to order an address from which very little can be concluded.

9 comments:

Rockstar said...

All the same I found it very useful information and helped me understand a little better what I had failed to grasp before! Unfortunately it touched another buzzy bee in your bonnet!!!

Buyo said...

Yes, I have a hive up there. It was useful. I think I said that.

Pete said...

I find it very interesting that the buildings are numbered chronologically rather than sequentially. There is a certain logic to it, though it makes it hard for strangers to find things. In England, do people in rural areas still name their homes, like my friend at "Caudle Springs Cottage", or has that all gone the way of domestic HP sauce production? Was that just a rural thing?

Buyo said...

My parents have a house name and not, so far as I know, a number. But people still name their homes in cities too.
The chronological thing in Japan (not everywhere in Japan, by the way) is funny. If I was getting on my hobby horse, I would say that it definitely does not fit in the "Japanese efficiency" box. Suppose people can say it is "Japanese irrational traditionalism" . Nightmare to find houses. Thank god for Sat Nav!

Buyo said...

Meanwhile, A. tells me that the "chronological" vs. "sequential" difference may have a touch of the foreigner urban myth about it too. I am sure that I do not understand the Japanese numbering system, but A. says it is not sure it is the case that it is just a jumble (with plots getting numbers when they apply) with no seuquential system. In some places it might be like that but in a lot of places the plots are divided up and given their numbers from the outset. Oh well, not sure I can be bothered to find out more about this because the sat nav makes everything simple anyway.

Buyo said...

A. says: "The problem is that in Meiji, Japanese governement decided not the "Street method" but the "Block method" which was a way of determining places in terms of blocks, which, increasingly became problematic with rapid urbanization and the war. I think in the early 1960s they passed a law which re organized the entire thing."

Buyo said...

More from A.: "So I think what is happening now is that each local authority determines the "starting point" (often with something memorable or official, such as city office) and then give numbers clockwise."

Buyo said...

And more from A.:"And then, from that starting point, houses will be given the second number every 10-15 m. Sometimes, two houses next to each other could share the same address if both front doors are facing the same direction and the distance between those two doors is very small.
Conversely, you can have 2-6 right next to 2-3, if those two houses are very big and have the front door very far from each other."
So there is a logic there, after all.

Rockstar said...

Logical it may be but I am totally confused now!!