Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Won't Miss #456 - helter skelter street layout/addressing

One of my students told me that Tokyo has a labyrinth of small streets snaking all around and carving the blocks up into triangles and trapezoids because those streets were once small waterways and streams that helped the locals conduct the business of living with a steady water supply. I'm going to take her word for that as I have never researched the history of the topography of Tokyo. I have, however, attempted to navigate the odd layouts of the streets in various cities and it seems at times as if the system was created by a madman. Unlike European-style streets, which tend to be laid out in blocks and have numbering which makes at least a little sense, the Japanese use a three-number system which can be pretty confusing, even for some Japanese. More than one student has told me that she or he gets lost trying to find new addresses. There simply is no systematic arrangement to the addressing in many cases. You can "get the hang of (the address system)", but you can never really predict where things will be as things tend to be idiosyncratic.

I won't miss the helter skelter layout of many of the districts in Tokyo.