Finding a Business

I have used this technique to find restaurants, bars, and specialty stores like home centers, etc. To find the location of a business in Japan, you need two things. The location address, and a map of the general area. If the address is not already known, it can be searched by the business name or type of business using the Internet. Maps are available from many sources. If you are in Kofu for a while, I suggest purchasing a map book. Otherwise less detailed but free maps are available on the Internet. Also, all train stations have area maps posted and these are also good sources.

Getting the Address/Phone number/Map

If the address is not already known, it can be searched by the business name or type of business using the Internet. The Internet can be a great resource for finding phone numbers, addresses, and even detailed maps even showing train stations and bus stops. I suggest using Google Local on Google Japan for this. In addition you will get the map you need. If the address is known, you can use Google Local, enter the address, and get a map of the location.

Google Japan
Google Japan

Start by going to Google Japan at www.google.co.jp. You must use Google Japan or the search results will not be correct. Select "more".

Google Japan Local
Google Japan Local

Select "Local" to go to Google Local.

Enter 'Kofu City'
Enter 'Kofu City'

You must enable the Japanese IME at this point to enter Japanese characters. Enter the area to search as in "Kofu", entered as "koufushi" or "Yamanashi", entered as "yamanashiken". This is entered via keyboard in hiragana but must be entered into the search criteria edit box as kanji. Both of these should convert to the correct kanji by default. If you know the address, you can enter the address directly in the address bar. This will give you a map of the location.

Enter 'Noya'
Enter 'Noya'

If searching by business type or business name, follow this by a space, followed by the type of business or business name. Again this must be entered into the edit box in kanji or hiragana/katakana as appropriate. In this example, we will use "Noya" entered as "nouya". This assumes, as I have stated, that you must know the kanji for the location you are searching for.

Find 'nou' kanji
Find 'nou' kanji

I choose this example to demonstrate that the kanji for many store names will not translate automatically since they are not dictionary words. In this case we must select each kanji separately and build the name in two steps. Enter "nou" and find the correct kanji.

Enter 'ya'
Enter 'ya'

Enter "ya" and find the correct kanji. Once the criteria is entered into the edit box correctly, press the Enter key. A list of possible matches will be displayed on the left along with a map to the right. In this example there is only one match. Select the name of the correct match from the bubble on the map.

Select larger map
Select larger map

I find it convenient to select a large map.

Finished
Finished

Use the zoom controls to zoom the map in and out. Click and drag the map to reposition it. Or double click the map to center the double-clicked area. There are many symbols. The traffic lights and the bus stops are extremely helpful when searching for the business. Use the distance scale to determine the distance of the business from the nearest train station or bus stop.

Find the business

Typical Address
Typical Address

The above is a typical address. Japanese cities are divided into a number of towns. Each town may be divided further into smaller areas of a few blocks and assigned a "chome" number. Finally there is a block number and a building number. The anatomy of an address from left to right, indicated by the red boxes, is the city name, town name, the "chome" number, and finally the block number and building number separated by a dash.

Address plate
Address plate

NOTE: that the address used in this example is different from the address used in the previous examples.

Armed with the address and a map, you are now ready to go out and find the business. It might be a good idea to call to see if the business is still open and what the hours are. In the photo above, the square on the left indicates the town name, in this case "maru-no-uchi". The character between the squares is the "chome" number. This may be written using roman numerals or sometimes kanji as seen here. So you will need to know the kanji for numbers 1 through 9. The characters following the number indicated by the box on the right is read, "chome" and just indicates that the previous characters are the "chome" number.

These address plates are located on buildings and electric poles. Your map will indicate where the "chome" number and block is from your start point, for example the train station or bus stop. Walk to the correct town, looking at the address plates until you find the town and correct "chome". Then look for the block. Once you have found the correct block, the business should be easily located.