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<title>Japanese addresses: No street names. Block numbers. </title>
<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: <strong>Japanese addresses</strong>.</p>
<p>Imagine you're standing in Chicago and a Japanese man asks you, “What's the name of this block?”</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/japmap-chicago.jpg" width="442" height="347" 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. This. (Pointing to the middle question mark on the map, below.) <strong>What's the name of this block?</strong>”</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/japmap-blockq.jpg" width="442" height="347" alt="map of what are blocks?" />
<p>You say, “Uh. That's the block between Huron and Erie, between Wabash and Rush.”</p>
<p>(<strong>Blocks don't have names! Streets have names! Blocks are just the chunks of land in-between streets.</strong> Duh!)</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="http://sivers.org/images/japmap-noname.jpg" width="448" height="355" 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. This. (Pointing to one of the question marks on the map, below.) <strong>What's the name of this street?</strong>”</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/japmap-streetq.jpg" width="448" height="355" alt="map of what are streets?" />
<p>She says again, “Uh. This is block 5. That is block 8.” (See the map, below.)</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> Duh!</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/japmap-blocknum.jpg" width="448" height="355" alt="map of numbered blocks" />
<p>And the <strong>buildings on the block are numbered in order of age</strong>. The first building built there is #1. The second is #2, even if it's on the opposite side. So you end up with house numbers that look like this:</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/japmap-housenum.jpg" width="448" height="355" alt="map of numbered houses" />
<p>Mailing addresses in Japan, after naming the province and city, are a series of three numbers: <strong>district number, block number, building number. That's how the building is found. No street names.</strong></p>
<p>As an example, see this <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">Google map from 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="http://sivers.org/images/japmap-tokyo.jpg" width="540" height="720" alt="map of Tokyo" />
<p>Cool, huh? You're impressed. You shrug and continue watching the gorgeous people of Tokyo.</p>
<p>See <a href="http://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>But <strong>read “<a href="http://sivers.org/reversible">Reversible business models</a>”</strong> or leave a reply, below, if (like me) this makes you ponder <strong>what other assumptions you've been making in your life or business, that could just as easily be the opposite</strong>.</p>
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