How to find an address in Tokyo

At first glance of a map of Tokyo, you will instantly find the layout of the city and the streets in Tokyo quite complicated. Besides this complexity, the majority of the streets have no names except for the large main streets.

The streets of Tokyo do not follow the Roman inspired, straight lines and 90 degree street grid of the majority of cities in North America and some cities in Europe, like Paris.


And you might think it is almost impossible to find a location by looking at the typical address in Tokyo. Don't worry, it is, quite possible to find an address in Tokyo, once you learn how to read an address in Tokyo. Also, at most exits of Subway or train stations, you will often find a map like this one below.

So, it helps to check in which direction to go before you start walking toward your designation.

In this map and other maps found in Japan, you will see:

Here is another tip, sometimes street addresses are shown on telephone poles on streets. It also helps and gives orientation to direct you in the right direction. In general, all addresses in all regions of Japan are shown in the same style of writing as they are shown here in Tokyo.

Differences in Addresses of buildings in Kyoto
One big exception is that all addresses in Kyoto are very different. In Kyoto, 2 styles of address are used. But the streets in Kyoto are not so complicated like those in Tokyo, as a mater of fact Kyoto follows the Roman style of street planning. Many of streets in Kyoto have names and you can reach your destination fairly essay compared to Tokyo once you find the name of the street you are on.

How to Read and Understand a Street Address in Tokyo

Tokyo has a very old and chaotic street-numbering system. Generations ago, the first building in a neighborhood was numbered 1. The second, now perhaps blocks away, was numbered 2. And so on.

Still, building 8 can be next door to building number 137. Even veteran taxi drivers get lost. To modernize the system would be forbiddingly expensive. So offices, restaurants, stores and ordinary householders cope by handing out maps to expected visitors, or sending maps by fax. People taking a taxi hand a map of their destination to the driver, who studies it for long moments before nodding "yes" and putting the cab in gear.

We will use the address of the JNTO Tourist Information Center(TIC) in Tokyo as an example:

2-10-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
東京都 千代田区 有楽町 2-10-1

The TIC is in the city of Tokyo, in the ku(ward) of Chiyoda; in the area of Yurakucho; in the No. 2 chome(sub-area), in city block number No. 10 and the number of the building is 1