A few additional points worth noting:
- The address can be written in a number of
different ways. The style of thbz's example is
mildly old-fashioned, these days the standard
style would be the more concise Akasaka 8-10-32,
prepending the chome. In Japanese, the dash is
read (and can be written) "no", meaning "of" (8 of 10 of 32). This is vaguely analogous to DNS.
An apartment number can also
be suffixed, eg. I used to live at Komaba 4-6-29-508.
Alternatively, you can expand the address all the way:
Akasaka 8-chome 10-cho 32-ban.
- The ordering of the address bits seems highly
random at first sight, but this is an illusion caused
by the incompatibility of the Japanese and Western
systems. In the West, addresses go from specific to
general -- name, number, street, town, country --
whereas in Japan the order is cleanly reversed. Thus,
in Japanese, the address above would be
Tokyo-to Minato-ku Akasaka 8-10-32, which
fits quite nicely on one line when written in kanji.
Alas, this gets mutated in all sorts of bizarre ways
when mapped to romaji and massaged so that
gaijin postmasters can deal with it.
- While the ordering by construction date
makes finding addresses in the older parts of town fiendishly
difficult, newer planned suburbs will quite often be
very nice and logical. Some massive apartment danchi --
the miles-long concrete wasteland near Funabashi, Chiba
comes to mind --
even have the numbers stenciled on them in 5-meter-high
- The length of an address is a good indication
of how urban the area is. A 4-6-29-508 is obviously
an apartment in a heavily built-up suburb, whereas
a mere 4-6 is almost certainly in a smaller town.
By the time the area name is trailed by a single number,
you can be sure that the nearest neighbors are
rice paddies and mountains.