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lost in confusion

House addresses in Japan are notoriously confusing. At first glance they make no sense at all. At second glance they make even less sense. Three glances leave you feeling nauseous.

A typical address might look like this:
Osaka
Sumiyoshi ku
1-3-9
664-9356

That's right, no street name or building name. Just a general area and some numbers. But it gets worse - you'd think the house next door might have a similar address, but no. Next door's address will be something like this:
Osaka
Sumiyoshi ku
5-1-4-6
226-92355
45-00-2222

This leaves postal workers and taxi drivers across the nation scratching their heads, and more often than not, completely lost. The bizarre system goes back forty years to when the building companies fell out with Japan Post over JP's unreasonable demand that building companies pay a "per-residence" fee to finance expansion of the postal service.

Relations between the two broke down, and building companies began deliberately numbering their properties in as confusing a way as possible. They even use a machine to select house numbers at random.

But in recent months the situation has deteriorated further. Some construction companies are doing away with numbers altogether, and are simply 'having a laugh' at the expense of stressed out delivery personnel, giving buildings silly names such as the one below.


A block of flats with no numbers. Just a cruel name to taunt those working for Japan Post.



The machine used to select house numbers in Japan.
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On Saturday, 24 February, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said:

Looks more like the birth giving machine to me.
http://anenglishmaninosaka.blogspot.com/2007/02/unveiled-birth-giving-machine.html  



On Saturday, 24 February, 2007, Blogger Brit in Hokkaido said:

Have to love Sapporo for being the one place in Japan that operates on a grid sytem- imposed by the Yanks when they came to instruct the Hokkaidoites in all things agricultural-
"Boys be ambitious,but let's have a sensible way of numbering the streets".  



On Monday, 26 February, 2007, Blogger ターナー said:

Very true - I know I'm not exactly positioned in the center of civilization, but a friend of mine had to mark his house using a GPS map just so I could find it; no address, so Google Maps wouldn't work.  



On Tuesday, 27 February, 2007, Blogger Name: Mr Moshi Moshi said:

I think I live in one of the most humiliatingly named apartment buildings in the country.

Castle Merry.

Yeah, it's a real riot.  



On Friday, 02 March, 2007, Blogger Life Out East said:

There's something very strange about Asian apartment and guest house names. Where do they come from? I've stayed in the Old Darling and Be My Friend before now. I guess a system of numbers is less embarrassing than the real name.
That machine is soemthing else.  



On Wednesday, 07 March, 2007, Blogger Val said:

Not so, Brit in Hokkaido. Ive visted Kyoto three times, and found it has a very old and civilised grid system. I never got lost once.I even managed the public transport system - excellent. Lovely place.  



On Friday, 09 March, 2007, Anonymous RisingSunOfNihon said:

Are you sure that machine is not used to draw maps for civil engineers when they are planning cities?

My hat is off to the little guys on bicycles who deliver the mail.

Gosh, I'll just strip down nude for them.  



On Sunday, 11 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said:

Is it a joke or real, this whole address thing?  



On Friday, 30 March, 2007, Blogger Perkunas said:

Very funny, Brit-san; had a good laugh at your story. What a nightmare for a new postal worker -- 10 million addresses that have to be memorized.

On the other hand, that's how the French (and others, no doubt) used to address their houses -- only with names. Much more poetic than numbers.  



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