General Tokyo &
Maps & Guidebooks
A truly excellent book of maps of metro Tokyo is the:
Tokyo City Atlas: A Bilingual Guide, Published by Kodansha. (3rd edition, 2004, ISBN 978-4770025036)
I love the maps in this book, because they actually get to a scale detailed enough to show block numbers, a necessary piece of information when navigating Japanese neighborhoods. (Street addresses in Japan work fundamentally differently than street addresses in the US - see Why Japanese Addresses are confusing, below.)
You should be able to find the current edition of the Tokyo City Atlas in the travel section of any large bookstore, or online at any major bookseller.
The same publisher, Kodansha, also has a book the same size called Japan: A Bilingual Atlas, with maps of all of Japan, but since it has to cover the whole country, the level of detail isn't nearly as great - it doesn't get down to block numbers! (And it will only be useful to you if you'll be heading outside of Tokyo on your own.)
On-line transportation references (occasionally these break, they rearrange their websites frequently):
For descriptive coverage of all of Japan I recommend the Lonely Planet Japan travel guide. I think this is the most recent edition, but if there's a more recent one, go for it.
Chris Rowthorn, John Ashburne, Sara Benson, and Mason Florence. Lonely Planet Japan. Lonely Planet Publications. 12th edition, October 2011. ISBN 978-1741798050.
Lonely Planet also publishes city-specific guidebooks for Tokyo and Kyoto, and they have a Japanese phrasebook that looks pretty good. The phrasebook does have both hiragana and katakana (the Japanese syllabic alphabets) charts. The phrases are presented in English, romaji (Hepburn-style romanization), and in Japanese characters (kanji and kana, as appropriate.) (See Language for a few more details.)
If you have free time in Tokyo, another book I like for sightseeing in the Tokyo area is:
Susan Pompian. Tokyo for Free. Kodansha. 1998. ISBN 4-7700-2053-8.
In my experience, other guides are just too touristy-oriented for an average Origami enthusiast!
Some web resources:
For a wide assortment of hand-held devices, a very handy tool is Metro http://nanika.net/Metro . It's a free guide to public transport systems worldwide (more than 250 cities covered now). Tokyo is covered as are a number of other Japanese cities. Select a start point and an end point, and it will plot a route for you (your choice of fastest route or fewest changes). The Tokyo version is in English, so it's easy to use even if you can't read Japanese.
(Note: this section was originally written by Elsa, modified to take out some non-public information.)
Let me contrast the NOA (Nippon Origami Assocation) office's address with, a fictitious American address as an example:
NOA: 2-064 Domir Gobancho, 12 Gobancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0076, Japan
John Q. Smith: 123 Pleasant St, Newtown, CA 12345, USA
Now, first note that nothing in the NOA address above is directly equivalent to the "123 Pleasant St." part in the typical American address. "Huh?" I hear you say. Let's look at that NOA address backwards, from larger geographical location to smaller, and see what's what.
"Japan" - That's easy. Same as "USA." Indicates what country.
"Tokyo 102-0076" - Indicates city and postal code, sorta like "Newtown, CA 12345"
"Chiyoda-ku" - Indicates what "ku," or ward, within the city. The NOA office is located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo. (Touristy fact: so is the Imperial Palace.)
"Gobancho" - Indicates what "cho," or neighborhood, within the ward. The NOA office is in the Goban, or #5, neighborhood of Chiyoda ward.
"12" - indicates what block number within the neighborhood the building that houses the NOA office is located on. The NOA office is in a building called "Domir Gobancho" which is one of the buildings on city block number 12 within the Goban, or #5, neighborhood of Chiyoda ward in Tokyo.
"2-064 Domir Gobancho" - "Domir Gobancho" is the name of the building. The "2-064" is the unit number within the building. Domir Gobancho is a large, tall building, and there are 2 elevator shafts. Use the elevator that takes you up the #2 tower to go to the 6th floor to find the NOA office.
Now in all that, there was not one street name or street address number. There was a block number. If you're trying to find a place for the first time, a map with block numbers will get you as close to your target destination as possible in Japan. Make sure the atlas/map you get has them!
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