Hello! I am new here so I apologize if this has already been answered. I did do a search but was not able to find the answer.

Are their guidelines for JA>EN translations of city/prefecture names? I have a personal preference, which is generally including the word "Prefecture" or "City," capitalized. However, I know that some people think that "prefecture" and "city" should be lower case even in the case of a proper noun ("Shizuoka prefecture") or excluded entirely ("Hamamatsu, Shizuoka").

I could see the arguments for each and I am willing to switch from my personal preference if there are specific guidelines I should be following. 


  • 0

    Hi, Akiyo,

    Thanks for the comment!

    This isn't covered in the English style guide, since that's a general document and not JA>EN specific, so it's understandable that you'd be unsure.

    It looks like your first instinct is correct. In the names of proper nouns, "city" and "prefecture" are capitalized (e.g., "Shizuoka Prefecture," or "Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture"). However, it's also perfectly correct to omit "Prefecture" and "City" even in proper nouns once it's been established that that's what you're talking about (e.g., first sentence mentions Fukui and Akita Prefectures, while the rest of the paragraph refers to Akita and Fukui). This also works in English--for instance, in a conversation: "Oh yes, I went to college in New York City." "How exciting! How long did you live in New York?" ← "City" gets dropped.

    I would also note that unless "City" is needed to distinguish between the city and the prefecture, "City" isn't necessary and should not be appended (and in some cases is never used at all, e.g. Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto, which are well-known in the West as cities and do not need that distinguishing word)--so Tottori City but not Hamamatsu City (cf. New York City, but Albany).

    Also, when the text is simply talking about cities or prefectures, those words should never be capitalized (e.g. "I'm from Akita [Prefecture]; we grew rice, as many families throughout the prefecture do").

    These rules are what is more or less standard in English publications, although house rules may vary.

    I hope that was clear! Please feel free to clarify if need be!

    JA>EN Senior Translator

  • 0

    Thank you for the wonderfully thorough response! Crystal clear. :) 

Please sign in to leave a comment.