[Top]  Last updated: 2000-04-01

Hard-to-read place names in the Kansai region

So, you think you've figured out how to read Japanese? Are you proud you've memorized 1,000 kanji? I've got something fun for you -- here are some place names in the Kansai region that are difficult even for us Japanese.

You'll need a Japanese-capable browser and Japanese fonts to read the following text.

Think hard, make your guesses, and then go to the Answers page.

Kyoto Prefecture

  1. -- Kyoto's traditional entertainment quarter.
  2. -- To go from Kyoto to Otsu, you go through here.
  3. ݡ -- A town near Uji, home of the eponymous Buddhist sect.
  4. -- Famous for its tengu legend and the Fire Festival.
  5. -- A major thoroughfare in central Kyoto.
  6. -- Home of the Toei movie studios.
  7. ο -- Part of the Kamigamo Shrine's sacred grounds.
  8. -- Famous as the headquarters of the Shinsengumi, a pro-shogunate band of warriors during the Meiji Restoration.
  9. Į -- The north end of the quarter. Its name comes from Portuguese.


Osaka Prefecture

  1. ϲ® -- The archaic name for the northern half of Osaka prefecture, literally "fast waves".
  2. -- A major junction of the Hankyu railway system.
  3. -- Formerly the center of the city of Osaka, so named because cargo was offloaded from ships here.
  4. -- A town in the north of Osaka.
  5. 翿 -- Home of Matsushita, makers of the Panasonic line of electric appliances.
  6. -- A town in Higashi-Osaka.
  7. ƻ -- A town to the east of Osaka.


Hyogo Prefecture

  1. -- A port in the east of Kobe, with ferrys to Shikoku and Kyushu.
  2. -- A river near the city of Takarazuka.
  3. -- If you know your Heike Monogatari (The Tale of Heike), this is the cliff that the Genji army climbed down to surprise the Heike at Ichinotani.
  4. -- A town in the west of Kobe.
  5. -- Home of the 47 samurai who avenged their lord, remembered in the popular tale Chushingura.
  6. Ѳ -- A town to the west of Himeji, close to .
  7. ͭǯ -- Another town in the vicinity.
  8. -- Yet another town in the vicinity.


Nara Prefecture

  1. -- The archaic name for what is now Nara prefecture. Later one of the names for Japan, and also the name of a Japanese battleship (the world's biggest, sunk off Okinawa in 1945).
  2. ŷ׻ -- One of the fabled Three Mountains of .
  3. ˵ -- Ditto.
  4. -- Ditto.


Shiga Prefecture

  1. -- Famous for its ceramics, in particular the tanuki figurines.
  2. -- Named after an ancient family of artisans who came from China.
  3. -- The name of this river is not Aichigawa.


Hirofumi NAGAMURA <nagamura@kh.rim.or.jp>