Japan: Where the Streets Have No Names
By Chad Upton | Editor
The U2 song, “Where the Streets Have No Name” refers to the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the streets actually do have names. Bono wishes they didn’t have names because they can be used to determine the class and religion of some people.
In Japan; however, a majority of the streets do not have names.
So, how do you find a location? Instead of the streets being named, the blocks between the streets are numbered.
The houses and units inside a block are also numbered. The blocks are inside a named district, the district is within a city or town. So, other than the block numbers and street names, it’s quite similar to the Western address system.
In Japan, directions to a location often include references to visual landmarks or subway stations. The block numbers could also be good for driving directions; if someone told you to turn right at the end of block 4, you’d see block 4 on a utility pole and know that the next turn is yours. In the Western system, you rarely know when your street is next, unless you’re in one of the few cities that are built on a perfect grid and have incrementally named streets.