7

地区 and 地方 have similar definitions, and 地帯 and 地域 are also defined similarly (at least according to JMdict/EDICT:

  1. 地区【ちく】 = district; section; sector
  2. 地方【ちほう】= district; region; area; locality
  3. 地帯【ちたい】= area; zone; belt (of land)
  4. 地域【ちいき】 = area; region

Searching around for answers, I also found

  1. 区域【くいき】 = limits; boundary; domain; zone; sphere; territory

The 類語例解辞典 dictionary has an explanation of sorts in Japanese, but I'm not too confident in my Japanese skills.

What I have gathered so far:

  • 区域 seems to be some very small area, like the premises of a factory, or a park.
  • 地区 has something to do with residential areas, I think.
  • 地方 is often used with the regions of Japan, like 「関東地方」、「東北地方」.

But I'm not sure if that's right, and I still don't quite understand the other words, so I'd appreciate if someone could give an answer, at least explaining the first four words.

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If you ask about "actual" difference, the fact is that the major part of their meanings are overlapping so you can't really find an example only one of them is acceptable and others are not. Administrations might define these words as they like.

However, according to my personal sense, the basic ideas are:

地区 vs 地帯 vs 地域

They are suitable for indicating continuous areas that surrounded by rigid lines, belt-shaped, or have vague boundaries, respectively.

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地方: It's a word for regions which don't only have geographical continuity but cultural, traditional solidarity, and at least as big as a county.

区域: It's artificial zoning that geographical characteristics may be ignored. A good example is 避難区域 (evacuation zone) around Fukushima 1 power plant, which was designated automatically by radius from the site.

1

To help you understand those words I will give you few examples :

地区 : Those are districts/wards in a city, there are for example 23 special wards in Tokyo. ( Shinjuku, Shibuya etc ...) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_wards_of_Tokyo You will say 新宿区 (the ward of shinjuku) 渋谷区(the ward of shibuya). In every japanese city you have 地区

地方 is a region like Kanto or Kansai, it is the word for an administrative region.

地域 is a general word for the term " a region", it could be the asion region, the oceanian region, north of USA, north america ...

地帯 and 区域 definition and nuances you gave are accurate and pretty clear :

地帯 = area; zone; belt (of land)

区域 = limits; boundary; domain; zone; sphere; territory

Edit : As the Author asked about more details, here they are : First japanese is about kanji :

in 地区, you have : 地 : earth, soil, ground 区 : area, district, region, ward ( like 新宿区, 渋谷区 )

so for a ward you will use : 地区 for a city I don't think you can use this form for a prefecture you will use 地市 for a region you will use : 地方( example : 関東地方 )

All those word are talking about the area, the soils of those places. So it means in your roman, the author is considering 西東京 as a fictional special ward of tokyo and then calling it 西東京地区.

About the word 地帯 and 地域

帯 : the main meaning of this kanji is a belt. 地帯 : is what is written up there, an area, a zone, a belt of land, for example : サンベルト地帯 ( the sunbelt in USA ). Indeed, a belt of land is a zone, and is an area. The meaning is a belt of land, but it can be translated into those 3 words depending on context, that's why you gotta think about Kanjis, and not about translators.

域 : level, limits, range, region, stage.

地域 : I let you think about the meaning of this word, it can describe anything. ( the most general word to speak about "a region" of the world, of a country, of a anything ).

  • Thank you for the answer. I have a question about 地区. I was reading a novel where it was used with Nishitōkyō, as in "西東京地区", which according to Wikipedia is a city in Western Tōkyō. So, am I correct assuming 地区 can be used with the cities, towns and villages of Tōkyō, as well? – RadonBust Mar 16 '15 at 9:33
  • I would also appreciate if you, or someone else, could expand upon the difference between 地域 and 地帯. You define them as "region" and "area", respectively, but that still does not quite make it clear to me, especially since in my native language those two words translate to the same word. – RadonBust Mar 16 '15 at 9:57
  • 1. 地域 is a generic word for "local area" or "region" as in "region code" and it usually doesn't produce proper noun compounds like 西東京地区. 2. 地帯 is a zone that's distinguished in terms of geographical feature like a desert, a farm belt or an industrialized part of the land. – user4092 Apr 6 '15 at 3:07

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