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I know that in a normal context, 町 means town.

But I'm pretty sure it's different in Japanese addresses, where it typically goes like:

__県__市__区__町______

I know that 県 means prefecture, 市 means city, and 区 means ward.

But how do you say 町 in English? I've been searching around and I couldn't find an answer.

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_都/道/府/県 _市 _区 _町

町 is just part of the name of an area in 市/区, so it can be written as (-)cho or (-)machi depending on its actual name. An area name does not always contain 町.

東京都町田市小山町(Oyamacho / Oyama-cho)
東京都町田市金森(Kanamori)
東京都千代田区一番町(Ichibancho / Ichiban-cho)
東京都千代田区飯田橋(Iidabashi)
大阪府大阪市中央区松屋町(Matsuyamachi / Matsuya-machi)
大阪府大阪市中央区北浜(Kitahama)

Note:

  • 区 is only for the special wards of Tokyo (特別区 / 東京都区部 / 東京23区) and wards of designated cities (政令指定都市の行政区). Normal cities do not have 区.
  • Each of the special wards of Tokyo is equivalent to a single city. Therefore it does not have 市 in its address name.

_都/道/府/県 _郡 _町

町 belonging to 郡 is an independent municipality in the same manner as 市 is, so you can call it a town. However, it is often written as -cho or -machi too.

神奈川県足柄下郡箱根町(Hakone Town / Hakone-machi)強羅(Goura)
愛知県海部郡蟹江町(Kanie Town / Kanie-cho)八幡(Hachiman)
愛知県海部郡蟹江町(Kanie Town / Kanie-cho)本町(Honmachi)

Some towns have 町 inside them like 蟹江町本町 above, but again they are just part of the names of smaller sections in towns.

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The suffix 町 "town" can be part of a place name, like 都・道・府・県 and 市・区. As a rule of thumb (for example in addresses), I would say 町 is not translated, but just transliterated as -chō or -machi, depending on the actual reading. That said, in some circumstances it may be translated (for example in fiction or, say, brochures for foreign residents), in which case Town seems to be standard, for example 平内町 Hiranai Town. (Similarly, 市 = City or 区 = Ward.)

If you want to look up the reading of a place name (for example if 町 is read -chō or -machi) a very convenient way is to use the website of the Post Office https://www.post.japanpost.jp/zipcode/. By the way, there seems to be a strong bias to either reading from prefecture to prefecture, for example 福岡県 has 1 -chō vs. 69 -machi whereas 北海道 has 1 -machi vs. 160 -chō.

For more info see also @kaboc's excellent answer.

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  • 2
    Good point. Similarly 村 also has both mura and son. Villages ending with -son only exist in 中国, 四国, 九州 and 沖縄 areas. kukanzeneki.net/omoituki/21 – kaboc Apr 8 at 0:42

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