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Thread: Meaning of the endings -ku -shi at city names

  1. #1
    後輩 Male
    Join Date Oct 8, 2007
    Posts 3
    Germany

    Meaning of the endings -ku -shi at city names


    国際交流パーティー
    Tokyo International Party

    hi!

    What kind of a meaning do the endings like "-ku" or "-shi" at city names have?
    Are they important? I am currently formatting a list of Japanese wifi-hotspots and wonder that sometimes a cities name is expanded with such abbreviations.

    Thanks for helping!

    Gg
  2. #2
    Tubthumper Male
    Join Date Mar 5, 2006
    Location Japan
    Posts 1,423
    Japan-Kyoto
    -shi is the suffix for a city
    -ku (ward) is the suffix for a subsection of a large city
  3. #3
    後輩 Male
    Join Date Oct 8, 2007
    Posts 3
    Germany
    Thanks, but it is still not clear for me.

    In the database I have entries like
    Arakawa
    and
    Arakawa-ku
    Is Arakawa-ku a district of Arakawa or are Arakawa and Arakawa-ku both districts of a not mentioned city?

    Would it lead to untderstanding problems for Japanese users if I unify these entries?
  4. #4
    先輩 Male
    Join Date Aug 30, 2007
    Posts 64
    United Kingdom
    From wikipedia: Arakawa (荒川区, Arakawa-ku) is a special ward located in Tokyo, Japan. In English, the ward calls itself Arakawa City.
  5. #5
    Resident Realist Male
    Join Date Aug 8, 2005
    Location All Over
    Posts 4,281
    USA - California
    are you saying that you have identical entries except for the suffix, or that your entry is just "arakawa" and "arakawa-ku"? Arakawa is a trolley line, a river, and a Tokyo ward. It covers a big area, so if that's the only information you have for a hotspot, it's already pretty useless.

    Generally, the ward suffix can be omitted without changing the meaning. An address in Shinjuku and Shinjuku-ku are the same place.
  6. #6
    相変わらず不束者です Female
    Join Date Nov 10, 2004
    Location 都下
    Posts 4,304
    Japan-Tokyo
    Usually, a "ku" is a subsection of a city, such as Naka-ku in Hiroshima City.

    For Tokyo, however, the 23 "kus" (wards) in Tokyo, including Arakawa, are regarded "cities" in English, therefore the confusion. In terms of Japanese political/administrative structure, Tokyo is called a "metropolis (-to)" and Arakawa or any other ward is a "city."

    So, I think you should always add "-ku." For "-shi", I suggest you either use it or replace it with "City."
    Omitting either of them may cause confusion.
  7. #7
    Wolf Male
    Join Date Jun 10, 2007
    Location N/A
    Posts 96
    Japan
    In my list of postcodes, there is an entry for (in the form of Postcode, Prefecture, City, Town)
    116-0002 Toukyouto Arakawaku Arakawa.
    So, a town named Arakawa in the City (Ward) of Arakawaku in the Prefecture Tokyouto (Tokio) seems to exist. There are some other towns in Arakawaku ward, according to my little list.

    And there seem to be lots and lots of other "Arakawa" all over Japan, though.

    Hope, this helps (to further confuse you )
  8. #8
    先輩 Male
    Join Date Dec 28, 2006
    Location London
    Posts 81
    UK - England
    In my list of postcodes, there is an entry for (in the form of Postcode, Prefecture, City, Town)
    116-0002 Toukyouto Arakawaku Arakawa.
    So, a town named Arakawa in the City (Ward) of Arakawaku in the Prefecture Tokyouto (Tokio) seems to exist. There are some other towns in Arakawaku ward, according to my little list.

    And there seem to be lots and lots of other "Arakawa" all over Japan, though.

    Hope, this helps (to further confuse you )
    i guess its a case of a wider area or -ku being named after the central section that shares the same name. Shibyaku coveres areas like ebisu, harajuku and the specific area we all know as Shibuya.
    Much like where I live is part of the borough of Haringey there is a part of the borough, or ward, itself called haringey even though the borough itself is many times bigger and covers many other wards such as muswell hill, wood green etc. On a larger scale Northhamton is a small town in a much larger Northhamptonshire.
  9. #9
    後輩 Male
    Join Date Oct 8, 2007
    Posts 3
    Germany
    Thanks guys for helping! Yes, I am still a little confused but at least I am not alone ;).

    I saw another ending that appears quite often: -gun.
    What es the meaning of that one?
  10. #10
    Wolf Male
    Join Date Jun 10, 2007
    Location N/A
    Posts 96
    Japan
    OK, I try the science of the obscurity of Japanese addresses

    Usually, an address has 4 levels:
    1st level is the prefecture "ken". Exceptions are Tokyo, which is named "to", as well as Osaka and Kyoto, which would be named "fu".

    2nd level is the city "shi", town or village like Nagoya-shi. If there is no city, but just countryside, it would be named "gun". If the city is big, there is a "ku" to slice and dice it further, as in "Nagoya-shi Minatou-ku". Smaller towns are not -shi but chou or "machi". Small villages are "mura".

    3rd level is the town or final place name, like the name of a village or town within a city.

    4th level would be block nr (chome) and house number (banchi)

    So your Arakawa would be in Tokyou Prefecture (Tokyouto), Second level would be Arakawaku, and the third level would be Arakawa town.

    I hope, I got this right...
    Last edited by nanook; Oct 10, 2007 at 21:43.
  11. #11
    Tubthumper Male
    Join Date Mar 5, 2006
    Location Japan
    Posts 1,423
    Japan-Kyoto
    Tokyo prefecture is Tokyo-to (short O at the end).
    The one other municipality that does not get a -ken designation is Hokkaido(u), which is just that.
  12. #12
    Wolf Male
    Join Date Jun 10, 2007
    Location N/A
    Posts 96
    Japan
    Tokyo prefecture is Tokyo-to (short O at the end).
    Thanks, JimmySeal. I edited the short "o" into my post.
  13. #13
    Delusions of Adequacy Male
    Join Date Mar 15, 2002
    Location Japan
    Posts 9,649
    Japan-Gunma
    Thanks guys for helping! Yes, I am still a little confused but at least I am not alone ;).

    I saw another ending that appears quite often: -gun.
    What es the meaning of that one?
    "gun" is a subdivision of a prefecture and may contain several cities, towns, or villages. (The distinction between city, town, and village is based on population in Japan). It is roughly equivalent to a "county" in the US.

    A big difference, though, is that there are governmental bodies at the county level in the US, while the "gun" is largely a meaningless and archaic term these days. One may drop it entirely from an address with no ill-effect whatsoever.

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