I live in a 郡 (gun, county) that has a name so strange that my home computer can’t recognize it when I type it in. At work, the computer is set to know that ほうすぐん (Housu-gun, the county created out of the towns of the 奥能登, the inner-Noto) is written as 鳳珠郡. At home, I have to manually input the kanji by typing 鳳 (ootori), one of the many kanji for phoenix and 珠 , the su of Suzu 珠洲 and an alternate kanji for tama, ball, sphere.
Typing it is bad enough, but have you ever seen someone try to read 鳳珠郡? Anyone who doesn’t live here, Japanese or otherwise, will just give you a blank look as you fill out your address.
Fortunately, while searching for the correct reading of some small towns’ kanji during the Summer Festival Season project for this blog, I discovered a brilliant website that provides the readings in kanji, hiragana, and romaji, as well as the postal codes, for basically every city, town, and village in Japan.
It’s called Memorva and is located at http://memorva.jp/zipcode/index.php.
Start at the regional page. Locate the prefecture, and click on it. This will take you to a list of the counties and cities in the prefecture. Clicking on 石川(Ishikawa) brings you here.
From here, you can choose the town or city you want. In some cases, towns may be listed under county 郡 name, like the towns of 鳳珠郡 (Housu-gun) in the Okunoto.
Suppose I want to know the reading of 蛸島町 in Suzu-shi. I click on Suzu 珠洲市 and then input 蛸島町 into the search bar on my browser. It turns out that I correctly guessed that the town’s name was Takojima-machi, Octopus-Island Town.
This is a great resource for when you receive directions or an address but don’t know how to pronounce it, which is pretty important if you need to ask for or explain directions to somewhere. Furthermore, clicking on the town will bring up a map and how to address a letter there in romaji and in Japanese, and give you the coordinates for the location.
Bookmark this site and say goodbye to your place-name kanji woes!
Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in 穴水町 in 石川県 and the editor of this blog. While she lucked out with living in Hole-Water Town, Rock-River Prefecture, she did not escape the fun of living in Phoenix-Sphere County.