While chatting with a friend about meeting up in eastern Tokyo, I typed in ひがしとうきょう and my Mac dutifully sent 東東京 out the wire. I quickly clarified with ひがし東京 just so she wouldn't think I had made a weird typo or something.

But is 東東京 actually the correct way to write "eastern Tokyo," or is there a less ambiguous way to do so? Is there a uniform way to refer to directions inside of place names which feature directional kanji - could the same rule apply to "northern Hokkaido" and so on?

  • What about "north east Tohoku"? Feb 28 '12 at 6:53
  • @AndrewGrimm You'd probably want to just specify what area of Touhoku you are talking about to the listener. It looks like some people use "東北の東北" (tabihikaku.net/hotel/summerfes/r02) ... but, Touhoku is so well defined by its large prefectures that you might as well use the name of the prefecture (or city) you are talking about, here.
    – summea
    Feb 29 '12 at 5:09

These should work:

  • eastern Tokyo: 東京(の)東部 or 東東京 (like you mentioned)
  • northern Hokkaido: 北海道(の)北部 or 道北{どうほく} (and some people might even use 北北海道)


  • The neat thing about Hokkaido terms is that one can often cut the name down to:

    道〜 (something) if the context is fairly clear that one is talking about Hokkaido.

    For example: 道産子{どさんこ} (someone who grew up in Hokkaido.)

  • 1
    Is 道北 pronounced どうきた ? Feb 28 '12 at 6:21
  • どうほく (keeping the same ON-readings together here) good question;
    – summea
    Feb 28 '12 at 6:23

While 東東京 is correct and is used relatively often....

In most cases you are better off the state the exact area you wish to talk about.

Remember Japanese people think in terms of Prefecture - City - Station - etc. If you start talking too geographically you are likely to confuse them.

Many Japanese exchange students in my city say they are confused when people use absolute directions, despite the fact there is a huge land mark to the south.

So I would say use 東東京 if absolutely needed, but avoid it whenever possible.

  • +1 for the prefecture/city/etc. format suggestion.
    – summea
    Feb 28 '12 at 20:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.