I Was trying to describe that a certain castle was located south of Kyoto, I would expect the phrase to be:


I was then thinking, how would I say that it is in Kyoto, but the southern part of Kyoto.

For example, in English there isn't exactly a rule that applies 100% to a specific phrase, but the syntax does differentiate the two meanings:

It is located ...

  • in the South of France (1)
  • to the south of France (2)
  • south of France (2)
  • in southern France (1)
  • to France's south (2)

(1) denotes inside France, (2) denotes outside of France

What ways are there in Japanese to specify what I am calling "intra-" vs. "extra-" usage of cardinal directions?

  • 1
    – Ringil
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 2:00
  • Thank you for that resource! However, looking at the other options, it seems 京都南部 may not be not generalizable to all cardinal directions or all cities. Under 観光エリア there is no 京都西部 or 京都北部. I think this would be more similar to a proper noun like "South Philly" that is the name of a town rather than grammatical structure.
    – katatahito
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 2:05

1 Answer 1


Place + の + 東/西/南/北 + にある is indeed ambiguous, but you can usually determine the meaning in one way with the aid of the context and some background knowledge:

  • 伏見桃山城は京都の南にある。
    Fushimi-Momoyama Castle is in the South of Kyoto.
  • 奈良県は京都の南にある。
    Nara Prefecture is located to the south of Kyoto.

If you want to avoid any confusion, you can say:

  • Xは京都の南部にある。: inside Kyoto
    (Keep の if you want to say this generally; see this.)
  • Xは京都の南の端にある。: inside Kyoto
  • Xは京都の中で南の方にある。: inside Kyoto
    (sounds wordy, use as a last resort)
  • Xは京都の南に接している。: outside but adjacent to Kyoto
  • Xは京都のはるか南にある。: outside and far away from Kyoto
  • Xは京都の南にある町の中にある。: outside Kyoto
  • Thank you! These options definitely help. Would you say that without other context if Thingは + Place + の + 東/西/南/北 + にある if Thing is on a smaller order than Place, that it is assumed Thing is located in Place ? I ask so that I will know when to make sure I know when I need to attempt to avoid confusion.
    – katatahito
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 4:17

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