Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Japan-related articles/Cities

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Raging Place Names Controversy: Cities

For cities, use the form [[{city-name}, {prefecture-name}]]; for example, Otaru, Hokkaido. An exceptions is that titles for major cities have been controversial; Nagasaki, Nagasaki vs Nagasaki?

On Wikipedia:Requested moves there have been a number of proposed moves going from both "City, Prefecture" to "City" (Nagasaki) and "City" to "City, Prefecture" (Hiroshima, Kyoto). The present wording of the manual of style is ambiguous at best. I would support removing the phrase An exceptions is that titles for major cities have been controversial; Nagasaki, Nagasaki vs Nagasaki? (this phrase needs to be cleaned up anyway if we're going to keep it) and supporting a 100% "City, Prefecture" style .CES 19:51, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Good catch, CES. It does have to be cleaned up, and my preference is to clean it up with article titles all in the format city-name, prefecture-name but of course with appropriate redirects, e.g. Nara redirecting to Nara, Nara (not to Nara Prefecture). Fg2 03:24, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

How would people feel if I remove the sentence An exceptions is that titles for major cities have been controversial; Nagasaki, Nagasaki vs Nagasaki? to make our position on place names a little more concrete? CES 02:46, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Is anyone still watching this page? I didn't get feedback except from Fg2, but I went ahead and removed the sentence in question. It would be nice if we could reach a consensus on what we think is the proper form for cities, more specifically if certain cities deserve exceptions. Personally I agree with Fg2 and I think all cities should be "City, Prefecture" ... to the best of my knowledge only Hiroshima, Kyoto, and now Nagasaki are just named "City". CES 01:18, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
I agree with "City, Prefecture" naming and appropriate redirects. -- Rick Block 13:09, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

As one who wrote the sentence in question, I feel sorry for confusions and subsequent troubles it made. As pointed out rightly, the sentence is ambigious and is, as now I realize, grammatically problematic. In any case, we badly need to seek a concrete position. I have started Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(Japan-related_articles)/Survey. I know it's reptetious, but please vote there. -- Taku 19:37, May 19, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for starting the survey Taku. I really hope we can reach a consensus (a real consensus) on this issue. CES 00:08, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

Exceptions for titles of city articles

This is kind of beating dead horse. But we have to settle this on.

There has been a debate on the titles of some city articles in Japan. Some prefer a uniform "city, prefecture" form, while others do just "city" for major cities like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It seems that consensus has yet to be reached. You are asked if we want such an exception. See also Talk:Nagasaki. Please vote. -- Taku 01:15, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC)

  • No exception; "city, prefecture"
    • +: It is easy to remember and follow. Thus, there is no confusion for both contributors and readers.
    • +: This is conventional elsewhere; e.g., Chicago, Illinois
    • +: This is a standard for writing an address in English. See Japanese addressing system.
    • -: Some titles appear silly, like Hiroshima, Hiroshima for some people.
    • Taku - Consistency is important.
  1. CES 15:30, 22 May 2005 (UTC) - 99.99% of Japanese cities are in this format ... why not make it 100%? I don't understand why these particular cities merit an "exception"
  2. That's my choice, primarily for consistency, although I can remember three or four exceptions. Fg2 09:55, May 24, 2005 (UTC)
  3. Taku 01:15, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC) as said the above.
  4. We say New York, New York when we want to be clear, so we should do the same with Japanese cities, and to keep it consistent.  freshgavin TALK   01:33, 7 November 2005 (UTC)

Not exactly a fair summary of debate, four + points for the option you refer and none for any alternative? the City, State convention might be one that USers are used to, but it's far from universal, I refer to Brighton and Norwich not Brighton, East Sussex and Norwich, Norfolk. New York, New York, given as an example in one of the debates, is redirecting to New York City at the moment - is Osaka City (which is how it's refered to in the article) really that much worse than Osaka, Osaka? Further more, the current system seems to have been pushed through despite not actually being agreed on, see Talk:Kyoto,_Kyoto#Requested_move for instance. I don't have particularly strong feelings about this, but I imagine that english speakers, used to refering to Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and so on will continue to surprised by the oddly redundant article titling of all but the first. --zippedmartin 12:05, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

City names

I don't understand what is the benefit of absurd article titles like Hiroshima, Hiroshima and Osaka, Osaka. I also don't see that there has been any consensus that this is appropriate as a general rule. The vote at Talk:Hiroshima, Hiroshima clearly shows that a majority was in favor of leaving it at Hiroshima, and the vote which was conducted here was completely inconclusive - there were approximately three votes. I'm going to suggest that, at least for cities which are the eponyms of their prefecture, we should not have this silly, not at all useful form. Really, for any city which is the primary one of that name, there is no reason to include the prefecture in the article title. john k 06:29, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree -Jefu 07:06, August 13, 2005 (UTC)

Titles like Hiroshima, Hiroshima are not absurd, nor are they silly; they are useful, and so I disagree. Fg2 07:43, August 13, 2005 (UTC)

The ", Hiroshima" and ", Osaka" are present as disambiguations. However, disambiguation is not necessary in these cases, any more so than it is necessary, for instance, to move Buddha to Buddha (Buddhist concept). - Nat Krause 08:26, 13 August 2005 (UTC)
Fg2, perhaps you'd explain how these titles are useful. I fail to see anything at all useful about them. There is no danger of confusion with the prefecture, which is always at the title Osaka Prefecture - administrative subdivisions named for their capital are not normally thought to be meant when the city's name is mentioned, anyway. As to other cities called Osaka and Hiroshima, there is no need to disambiguate - the ones which are capitals of their own prefecture are self-evidently the most important cities of that name. john k 15:31, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

I don't think this is a matter of which title is suitable for one particular article, but how to name places in Japan. The current naming scheme is analogous to that for US cities like Chicago, Illinois; or History of Japan while Japanese history sounds clearly more natural. For place names, we have an uniform format {{city-name, prefecture-name}}, {{town-name, prefecture-name}} and etc. I conceded some sound simply stupid; Hiroshima, Hiroshima!? But unless we agree to have exceptions (the big question is the scope of exception), we should stick to them. This is why I think we should be discussing this issue here and not arbitrarily. -- Taku 03:35, August 14, 2005 (UTC)

I think it is fairly easy to come up with a reasonable scope for exceptions - at the very least the rule "all cities which are the eponyms of prefectures do not need to have the prefecture in the title" would be quite clear and limited. Another possibility would be "all prefectural capitals do not need to have the prefecture in the title," although there might be some exceptions to this. I'd suggest a more basic rule - "only disambiguate when necessary to distinguish the city from a like-named city of similar or greater importance." As to Chicago, Illinois, I don't think that's necessary either - but at least this doesn't look absurd. We do not have New York, New York, any longer, and have not for a long time now. As to Japanese history vs. History of Japan, perhaps your not being a native speaker of English has led you astray here. Both terms are perfectly natural English expressions with somewhat different connotations. The term "History of Japan" implies that it will provide a narrative of the history of Japan from its beginnings to the present. The term "Japanese history" can be used to discuss any element of Japanese history, not necessarily a grand chronology. If someone says, "I'm writing a book on the history of Japan," that has a somewhat different connotation from "I'm writing a book on Japanese history." The former sounds like a textbook; the latter like a monograph. Our History of Japan article is just that - a history of Japan. An article on Japanese history would imply something a bit different. john k 04:32, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

As an example, the current article Yokohama, Kanagawa should be at just Yokohama, since it is by far the best known and most important city called Yokohama. The article Yokohama, Aomori should remain where it is. john k 04:36, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

I need a clarification for "only disambiguate when necessary to distinguish the city from a like-named city of similar or greater importance" Does this rule apply to (1) every city (2) every city and town (3) every municipality? Would you mind to give more examples? especially for names like Okinawa, Okinawa,Sapporo, Hokkaido, Kyoto, Kyoto and Gunma, Gunma. I don't think either (2) or (3) is practical. Needless to say, it is tedious and error prone to try to figure if a given name requires disambiguation or not. Now assume you meant (1). Then we have a situation where there is Okinawa, which is a city and Gunma, Gunma, which is a town. And do we have to rename towns when their status is promoted to a city? How should we handle current disambig pages like Yamanashi? As for Japanese history, then what about Economy of Japan? Japanese economy sounds more natural (at least to me).
In short, I am plainly concerned with the consistency and potential problems. So the rule "all cities which are the eponyms of prefectures do not need to have the prefecture in the title" looks more workable and I prefer something like it. -- Taku 08:23, August 14, 2005 (UTC)
I would want to be constructive as well so here are some of my proposals of rules:

-- Taku 08:41, August 14, 2005 (UTC)

Forgive me, Takuya, but I am not familiar with the distinction between cities and towns in Japan. To deal with specific issues - Okinawa, Okinawa is a special case, perhaps, since the city of Okinawa is not a large one, and when people say just "Okinawa" in English, they generally mean the island. Sapporo and Kyoto (and to my mind, at least Fukuoka), seem to be clear instances where disambiguation is not needed. Basically, I think the largest Japanese cities are the ones where this issue really matters - Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kobe, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Tokyo, Yokohama, Sapporo, at least, perhaps some others. But, I mean, the issue of determining whether a given name needs disambiguation or not is not so difficult. Given a presumption in favor of disambiguation, and the existence already of articles on most (all?) Japanese cities, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out which ones are the largest of their name, and can go at the main article. If all of the cities of a given name are small (<200,000?), they should all remain at the disambiguated location. It would require some judgment, but it would be something that would only have to be done once. john k 15:26, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Another possibility - whenever the main article City redirects to City, Prefecture, that article should just be at City. john k 15:28, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

The population criterion is very confusing. Besides, every year we have to be checking if the population reached or falls below 200 thousands line. If we want to restrict the rule to large cities, we can use cities designated by government ordinance or core city, instead. I thought that it may be also workable to strip the prefecture suffix from top 20 cities or something. But this will create a situation where there is Hiroshima but Nagasaki, Nagasaki. To clarify my statement about disambiguation, I meant it would be tedious to apply the rule to every single municipality instead of just city.
I think what we are missing here is how to justify an exception. I do agree that Hiroshima, Hiroshima looks ugly, so, like I proposed above, it seems to make more sense to pick a couple of cities and allow for the exception for only them. In this process we must be careful about consistency; it makes wikipedia look stupid if there are the titles Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nagasaki at the same time. The question in essence is how much ugliness we can live with :) -- Taku 22:48, August 14, 2005 (UTC)
Obviously, you are more familiar with the designations of Japanese cities than I am, Taku. Whatever you think would be the easiest and most consistent way to insure that the best-known Japanese cities in the west aren't disambiguated would be okay with me. john k 16:01, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

The naming conventions for cities, see Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(city_names), generally seem to prefer [[city]] rather than any disambiguated form except in the US and Canada (presumably due to the national format being [[city, state]] and [[city, province]]). I assume the convention for Japan has been [[city, prefecture]] since without the -shi, -cho, -mura suffix the English versions of the names are highly ambiguous. For example, I note the name for the article about the city of Hiroshima in the Japanese wikipedia is 広島市, not 広島, and the address is listed as 広島県広島市, which to my ignorant Gaijin eyes looks pretty much like "Hiroshima, Hiroshima". Would it be better to revisit the decision to drop the suffix for Japanese place names? On the other hand, given that Hiroshima redirects to Hiroshima, Hiroshima and the other cities similarly redirect (i.e. Hiroshima is not a disambiguation page, but a redirect) is this even worth worrying about? What do people find so ugly about "Hiroshima, Hiroshima"? I think the proper postal address format (whatever its legal name) for the capital of the state of New York is actually "New York, New York" which contextually I read as "New York (city), New York (state)". Do people not read "Hiroshima, Hiroshima" similarly, as "Hiroshima (city), Hiroshima (prefecture)"? IMO, using non-disambiguated place names for cities is a mistake. Yes, we all know London refers to the one in England and not the one in Ontario but what does it hurt for the article name to be London, England as long as London redirects you there? -- Rick Block (talk) 13:37, August 15, 2005 (UTC)

It doesn't hurt at all. "Hiroshima, Hiroshima" makes perfect sence, even though it may seem odd to a few people. I think using the prefecture "-ken" postfixes may indeed provide a good alternative, but for the moment, as long as redirects are in place, I don't think there is a problem. JeroenHoek 10:54, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
New York, New York is a fairly common expression, and the name of a song reflected that. The USPS is happy when senders (especially those out of state) write "New York, NY" on envelopes, and even if it's less common in conversation than in writing, it seems reasonable to me as an article title. Wikipedia didn't choose that, but it would have been reasonable. Likewise, Kyoto, Kyoto is very reasonable as a postal address, and even though it's rare in spoken Japanese it makes sense in writing. "Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture" would make more sense, and maybe "Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture" more still, but there's no need to go that far. "Kyoto, Kyoto" is a good middle ground, being the closest thing to correct that's reasonable, and most reasonable thing that's close to correct. Also, it's memorable, since it fits the pattern that we've established as City, Prefecture for every city in Japan. It makes it easy for editors to get the links right, and redirects make it easy for readers to get the article they want. Who is badly served by this system?
One problem with making exceptions is where to stop. One person wants Kyoto, Osaka; the next wants Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then it's Nara, and the person who lived in Toyama must be served. Along come Fukushima, Fukuoka, Okayama, Fukuyama (whoops! that one's not a prefecture) and by the tenth or fifteenth one, everybody's tired of it. Meanwhile, people are battling to get some of them reverted.
Why bother with all this? We have a good system. The editors can reliably get the link right, and the readers can reliably get to the articles they want. Let's spend our time improving articles rather than trying, for the third time this year (is that count right?), to make exceptions to a simple, workable rule. Fg2 11:44, August 15, 2005 (UTC)
As I said way back above (though no one seemed to bother reading it), City, State might seem natural to USers, but personally I'd throw a fit if someone started renaming every town in the UK Town, County on the basis there are lots of other places named after 'em - the {{otherplaces}} tag exists for just this purpose. The lot of you need to remember common names - the emphasis is not 'consistency' but 'least surprise'. In a way Japan geeks shouldn't be discussing this at all, you're perfectly aware that Hiroshima might refer to city or prefecture, or somewhere else altogether - to the common user, as demonstrated by the few general discussions that have taken place, the insistance on strict convention just looks odd. And once again, New York City is the article title, not New York, New York, and as a parallel, ja:京都市 is the article title, not 京都,京都. It's a lot of fuss over nothing, but don't enforce a policy just because you like everything to look the same, against the usage in English. Simple rule, if you're doing a straight redirect from a simple name to a complex one, something is wrong. --zippedmartin 16:10, 15 August 2005 (UTC) Simult. edit, was aimed up here
Fg2 - The post office address "New York, NY" does not refer to the entire city of New York, but only Manhattan. Letters to Brooklyn are properly addressed to "Brooklyn, NY," those to Queens to "Flushing, NY" or "Long Island City, NY," or "Jamaica, NY," or "Far Rockaway, NY." And the proper post office address for the capital of New York is Albany, NY. So please stop trying to prove your point from stuff you know nothing about. Beyond this, I still don't see what would be unworkable about "if the city name redirects to City, Prefecture, that article should just be at 'city name'" rule. There's a huge number of Japanese cities for which this is the case. If either a) there's already a disambiguation notice at the top, or if there's only one city of a given name, I don't see why we should disambiguate it. It should be noted that in the United States, almost every city is going to have a namesake of some sort, and, furthermore, we have articles on every city, town, village, borough, township, and census-designated place in the United States. And there's a whole ton of them. In Japan, there seem to be fewer repeat names, so disambiguating all city names seems unnecessary. The fact that in Japanese there can be confusion between city and prefecture if we don't distinguish is irrelevant to the fact that in English, we assume that if we just get "Name" that's going to refer to the city. I fail to see what it is about Japanese cities that makes the U.S./Canada model more advisable than a "don't disambiguate unless necessary" model.

Incomplete list of articles on Japanese cities at form City, Prefecture to which the article City redirects:

  1. Yokohama
  2. Kobe
  3. Osaka
  4. Nagoya
  5. Kitakyushu
  6. Nagasaki
  7. Okayama
  8. Naha
  9. Sapporo
  10. Hiroshima
  11. Shimonoseki
  12. Aomori
  13. Toyama

The only major city I've found which doesn't do this is Fukuoka, which is a disambiguation page, but given the other examples, it probably should redirect to Fukuoka, Fukuoka. It seems to me that either, all these pages should be made into disambiguation (which would be absurd), or the main article should be moved there. If there is no need for a disambiguation page, why is there a need for a disambiguated article title?

BTW, here's Wikipedia:Disambiguation: Some topics have a primary topic which editors agree is the primary meaning for the term (Rome, for example). In this case the disambiguation page is named Rome (disambiguation), and the primary topic keeps the topic word or phrase.

Does everyone here disagree that these cities are the primary topics in English of the names Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and so forth? If not, could you explain why you feel this? I just don't understand why there is a need for a special naming convention for Japanese cities at all. john k 16:01, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Given that there is an established convention, and it would take effort (and in at least some cases, effort from an admin) to move the articles and fix the navigational templates (etc.), I think the proper question here is what is the compelling rationale for making this change? Is this perhaps a US/UK difference? I'm from the US, and I don't know of anyone who would object to an article about, say, London, being titled "London, England". BTW - the New York example is mine, not FG2's (including the capital mistake) and Tokyo is actually a special kind of prefecture (not a city). -- Rick Block (talk) 18:45, August 15, 2005 (UTC)
If talking to a (US) friend about Osaka City, what would you refer to it as? As for the 'effort' wiggle, it took effort to move the articles to this scheme in the first place, and it happened despite objections on some of the talk pages, it's not much work to move articles back over the common redirect. And as I said, twice already, City, State is peculiar to your continent, probably due to extrodinany lack of imagination when naming cities, requires a lot of dab. --zippedmartin 19:05, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
The "established convention" never had any consensus behind it (look at the "vote" on the matter further up this page - nobody voted. And when individual votes were held, as at Hiroshima, they came out in favor of keeping it at Hiroshima). As far as the work involved, I would be happy to do that myself (and I am an admin, so no problems there). The NY mistake was made by both FG2 and you, but yeah, you made it first. john k 20:01, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
  • 99.9% of Japanese cities in Wikipedia are in [City, Prefecture] format ... rather than start down the slippery slope of trying to figure out which cities deserve an "exception" why not leave it alone? As we've seen with Japanese personal names, coming up with somewhat arbitrary rules and conventions just leads to even more confusion. I don't see the point of changing conventions, especially when the main argument seems to be that in the case where city and prefecture are the same, this offends some people's sense of aesthetics! Don't fix what ain't broken! CES 23:12, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Why should Japanese cities be treated completely differently from those of most other countries in the world? For American and Canadian cities, it makes some sense because there's so many repeat city names. This simply isn't a major problem for Japanese cities, and there is absolutely no reason to have the [City, Prefecture] format as a basic convention at all. I would suggest a [City] format, except in cases where disambiguation is necessary. For non-city municipalities, I am happy to leave the [Town, Prefecture] form as a convention, if that's what people want, but I really don't see why the usual "don't disambiguate unless you have to" rule is not appropriate to Japanese cities. As to arbitrary rules and conventions, what is more arbitrary than deciding that Japanese cities need this form of pre-emptive disambiguation? john k 17:14, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree completely -Jefu 08:58, August 17, 2005 (UTC)
I guess I just don't really see what the harm is in having the prefecture in the title. By having the prefecture in the article title, the user knows exactly which city is being discussed the instant the page opens. Not only that, but it lets the user know that indeed a city is being discussed instead of a prefecture or even a personal name or geographical feature (the default assumption is not always the city ... think of Okinawa, maybe even places like Yamaguchi and Kochi). The very fact that many Japanese cities (including most of the big ones) have names similar to or identical to prefectures, other cities, personal names, geographic features, etc. indicates to me at least that "pre-emptive disambiguation" is not unwarranted. CES 13:39, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

A couple of points of potential "harm." Firstly, there is an issue of consistency. Not within Japanese cities, but between Japanese cities and other cities. With the exception of a few American cities (which I have also argued should not be disambiguated), most large cities are only disambiguated in the instance that they need to be. Japanese cities are disambiguated even if there is absolutely no need to disambiguate them. Is there anything named Kitakyushu besides the city? The issue of prefectures is a red herring. Italian provinces also share names with Italian cities, but that has not led to this kind of disambiguation for Italian cities. In fact, most countries in the world name their provinces after cities. But because the province/prefecture is almost always, in English, referred to as "Suchandsuch Prefecture," confusion doesn't arise. Obviously, there are some exceptions. "Okinawa" most commonly refers to the island (oddly, our article Okinawa redirects to Okinawa Prefecture, which includes the other Ryukyu Islands - this should probably be changed). Kochi should certainly be disambiguated, because there is a major Indian city of that name. Particularly small cities that share names with prefectures, like Yamaguchi, can perhaps still be disambiguated. But the fact that the line can sometimes be hard to draw doesn't mean that we should just say "No line is to be drawn! Onward with Tokyo, Tokyo!" john k 15:45, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

I think your post proves my point. Half of it is taken up with concessions for reasons why cities need to be disambiguated (and you don't get to even half of them). The biggest problem with going on a case-by-case basis, as you seem to propose, is that what needs to be disambiguated is often ambiguous. If you hear "Hiroshima" you likely think of the city. But what about "Tokushima"? "Okayama"? City or prefecture? Not to mention the fact that many English-speakers (even smart Wikipedians!) probably couldn't tell you what a prefecture was, let alone tell you what the wikipedia convention is for prefecture articles.
I understand your point--that for a handful of cities (Kitakyushu, Nagoya, etc.) there's no need for the [,Prefecture] so why bother? But, the cities that have no need at all to be disambiguated are far outnumbered by the cities where there is indeed ambiguity. And there are dozens if not hundreds of cases that are borderline. And as we've seen on articles such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki (or even this talk page) we end up spending lots of time going around and around on a point that will never satisfy everyone.
Sticking to the rule of [City, Prefecture] is not an example of "no line is to be drawn." On the contrary, it's the most decisive and discriminating line that can be drawn. 99.9% of the time the system works. Why tear it down for that 0.1% of the time when it might seem redundant? Having a rule, and a simple rule at that, eliminates confusion 100% of the time. And that is what should count in an encyclopedia.
I'll give you one point though: there shouldn't be a Tokyo,Tokyo!
CES 13:55, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
"99.9% of the time?" Where is this number coming from. I will concede for the sake of argument that for 90% of Japanese city articles, this convention works okay. But I would guess that for, say, 80% of actual page views of Japanese cities, people are going to be looking at the largest cities, for which the disambiguation looks stupid and unprofessional. Furthermore, as to "going around and around on a point that will never satisfy everyone" for Hiroshima and Nagasaki is another red herring - the only reason that anybody thinks those articles should be at Hiroshima, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nagasaki is because we have a convention (never agreed to by a consensus!!) that all Japanese city articles (except, apparently, Tokyo and Kyoto) must be at this format. If we removed this standard, it is fairly clear that those articles would rest at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As to Tokushima and Okayama, if you click on those links you will notice that those articles already redirect to Tokushima, Tokushima and Okayama, Okayama, suggesting that the city use is predominant, anyway. Beyond this, the fact that most English-speakers may not know what a prefecture is is irrelevant. If they don't know what a prefecture is, they're incredibly unlikely to be looking for the prefecture when they type in Okayama. For those who do know what a prefecture is, they are unlikely to think that they will reach the prefecture by typing in Okayama. (I would guess that most people who know enough to be typing in "Okayama" will have some basic knowledge of Japan). At any rate, as I've said before, the prefecture is a red herring. See Antwerp, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, etc. for cities that are also the eponyms of subnational divisions, but which we feel no need to disambiguate. I genuinely think that disambiguation is only needed in a few cases - mostly not-particularly-notable cities that share their name either with a more important city or with other not-particularly-notable cities. Okinawa, Okinawa is, as I said before, a special case - but because it shares its name with the island, not because it shares its name with the prefecture. john k 16:37, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

I think we'll just have to agree to disagree here ... from the beginning your primary argument has been that "the disambiguation looks stupid," and it's hard to have a debate when your main sticking point involves your sense of aesthetics. If your argument was that the disambiguation system was inaccurate, confusing, or unhelpful (even you concede that 90% of the time it's at least ok) then I could see having a valid debate based on facts and logic. But it's hard to say much when your arguments are largely subjective: the system looks "stupid" "silly" and "absurd," the prefectures are "red herrings," assumptions about how knowledgeable people are about Japan. Consequently, Tokyo is a metropolis (都), not a city/prefecture tag team--my point in saying this is not to show you up, but to simply show that most of us don't know what we don't know (definitely count me in this group!)--another reason why assumptions are dangerous and conventions help.

This will be my final word on the subject: the system is effective and helpful at least 90% of the time and eliminates any and all possible confusion 100% of the time ... sorry if some people think it looks stupid, but as a convention for article titles I think that's a pretty darn good success rate. CES 14:09, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

I have to say I'm with john k here. This is another situation where I've never seen Japanese cities referred to in English as City, Prefecture. And, while I don't disagree with the point that it looks utterly stupid, the practical reason is that it is confusing to see Hiroshima, Hiroshima in the title of an article. Has anyone explored at least naming them "Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture"? That would at least be an improvement. Although I think if the body of the article notes the prefecture in which the city is located, that is where such information should be conveyed. As someone else pointed out elsewhere on this page, the information doesn't need to go in the title. That's what the body of the article is for. -Jefu 14:27, August 19, 2005 (UTC)

CES - I certainly think it is unhelpful. That's what I mean when I say "completely unnecessary." It probably is confusing for most English-speakers, who are, as you note, completely unfamiliar with the Japanese prefecture system. I didn't say prefectures were "red herrings." I said that the argument that people will be confused between prefectures and cities is a red herring. I will add that I have not conceded that 90% of the time it's at least ok. I conceded for the sake of argument that it is okay for 90% of articles. I would say that probably for 90% of hits, it is not okay, and I tend to think it's not ideal for a pretty high percentage of articles. As to eliminating confusion - it only eliminates confusion for people who are aware of the prefecture system, which you yourself have admitted is not terribly many English-speaker. For those unaware of the prefecture system, it seems as though the name is being repeated for no reason. Disambiguation should be used to disambiguate - and in many of these cases there is no actual need to disambiguate. Furthermore, you have yet to address the fact that for a huge percentage of the major Japanese cities, the article City already redirects to City, Prefecture. If we were worried that people wouldn't be looking for the article on the city when they type in City, we should make these pages disambiguation pages. Finally, whatever the established policy, it seems to me that a positive case has to be made for having a naming system that is at such wide variance from generic wikipedia naming conventions. So if I have not made completely convincing positive arguments for my position, it is because I feel that I am not the one who should have to make positive arguments for what is essentially a negative position. At root, my position is "there is no need for a special naming system for articles on Japanese cities. We ought to make sure that disambiguation, when necessary, is consistent, but that is all." Since this is the default position for city articles everywhere except the United States (most major Canadian cities, for instance, are not "pre-emptively disambiguated"), you should have to explain why it is not sufficient for Japanese cities, and why a specific standard is necessary. john k 14:37, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Very well put; agree completely. Noel (talk) 16:50, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Ditto. I agree as well. -Jefu 17:00, August 19, 2005 (UTC)

Given that we've been around and around on this, and there seem to be a fair number of people who are committed to different views on this, would it be wise to try to devise a poll on this issue? I'd want to think carefully, though, about exactly what the option (or options) should be for changing from the current set-up. john k 17:19, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

I hate going back on my promise of my last post being my last word on the subject, but I apparently haven't explained myself (positively or negatively!). If we are going to have a poll I'd like the chance to make my comments clearly one last time (although, I'd hoped that's what I'd been doing all along, so I apologize for any redundancy).
My main reasons why the convention should stay in 100% usage:
  • It immediately lets the user know the article is about a city (ie disambiguates from prefectures, other cities of the same name, personal names, natural objects, etc.)
  • It immediately lets the user know what prefecture the city is in
  • It draws a decisive and accurate line in the sand and eliminates the need for debate on individual city talk pages
Comments and responses to common arguments:
  • I think that Japanese city names are a unique case, and probably need disambiguation more than even American city names. Why? Because the potential for ambiguity is high and comes from multiple sources. Take "Ishikawa." It's a prefecture, a city, a surname, and the name of probably dozens if not hundreds of rivers in Japan. This type of situation is quite common in Japan. If someone types "Ishikawa" into the search box, we need to take into account that he or she may be searching for any one of these. Same goes for "Yamaguchi," "Hiroshima," etc. etc. Having a consistent format clears up any possible confusion.
  • If the prefecture issue is a "red herring," then it's because of a naming convention identical in spirit to the city name convention--that of calling all prefecture articles "X Prefecture" even when the need to do so is not immediately clear. More proof that conventions work when adhered to, even when a few exceptions exist (disambiguating "Tochigi" essentially serves no more purpose than doing the same to "Nagoya").
  • American cities are in the [City, State] system, Italian (and other) cities aren't. So? The logical conclusion is that the [City, State/Prefecture] system evolved (or was it intelligently designed?) because it filled an actual need in the cases in which it became convention. Egg before the chicken.
  • Again, the major argument for getting rid of 100% usage of this convention is that when city and prefecture have the same name, it looks stupid. Are we seriously having a debate about whether article titles look stupid? Apparently we are though, because to the best of my knowledge the only city talk pages that get into these naming conventions debates are places like Hiroshima and Kyoto, not Yokohama or Nagoya.
  • Although the prefecture name is also in the body of the article, having it in the article name immediately lets the reader know which city is being discussed, and assuming they know where the prefectures are, a pinpointed idea of where the city is located without even needing to look at the article.
  • I really don't buy the argument that "Hiroshima, Hiroshima" confuses people. Everyone in the world knows the song "New York, New York" ... I really can't find it possible to believe that the [City, Prefecture] format is really blowing people's minds. Let's give our fellow Wikipedians some credit! At the worst, people don't know why Hiroshima is "repeated." I don't think I'd really call that "confusion" as in "what the hell page is this?!?" confusion.
  • Conventions are only truly useful when applied all of the time. Look no further than the Japanese personal name mess for proof of real confusion when conventions are sparingly applied. Or the emperor names debate above or the date debate below for cases when there is no obvious guideline for a convention. The [City, Prefecture] convention is 100% accurate 100% of the time, no matter what angle you look at it from. It's helpful to many if not most users, and at worst it serves no purpose to the people who don't know about prefectures. At absolute worst it offends the aesthetics of some people. Let's look at the big picture here.
John, I hope I explained my position accurately and whether you agree or not, I hope I at least addressed the comment that started this whole line of conversation: I don't understand what is the benefit of absurd article titles like Hiroshima, Hiroshima and Osaka, Osaka. I feel like the major issue is being missed in your comments: the question is not whether "Hiroshima, Hiroshima" looks absurd, but whether the system as a whole makes sense.
If people have concrete alternative solutions rather than just complaints about the present system, let's please see them and take a vote so we can move on to bigger and better things. Like naming order =) CES 22:47, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

My main problem, with all of the issues on this page, is that most of you are looking at stuff from the perspective of Japophiles and not considering the actual users of en.wikip. You guys all know the intracacies of dates, emperors, placenames, naming order, transcription issues etc... and assume that everyone else should as well. Fact is, wikipedia *has* a disambiguation policy, and there's no reason it shouldn't apply here. Kent is at Kent, not County of Kent, England, despite the pretty impressively long Kent (disambiguation) page. I've not seen any good argument so far for applying rigid naming conventions to Japanese places, nor any kind of concensus for doing so. My concrete alternative solution? Just follow the general Wikipedia:Naming conventions:

When there's no obvious 'main candidate' for a string, stick the dab at the root. If the root is a redirect, you're doing something wrong. Convention for the sake of convention is silly. --zippedmartin 00:27, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Thanks Zippedmartin - this is exactly what I have been trying to say, but much briefer. john k 00:39, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

User:Hottentot has moved Kobe, Hyogo to Kobe. Fg2 04:20, August 25, 2005 (UTC)

The move occurred unilaterally and in violation of the J MoS ... I think it should be moved back to where it was unless and until we resolve this debate to the contrary. CES 11:57, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
OMG! World will explode. Some editor not involved in the discussions here moved an article in-line with general naming conventions because of a query on talk, rather than keeping it at a location proposed by some editiors here. Why not leave it as-is until this discussion is resovled? Certainly don't move it back for being "in violation of the J MoS", which, quite frankly, is a joke. --zippedmartin 12:14, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Sorry you think the Manual of Style for Japan-related articles is a joke ... most people here would disagree of course (and I wonder why you're here if it's a waste of your time?). I see nothing on the Kobe talk page that indicates a discussion of this move, on the contrary I see a request for further disambiguation. Whether you agree with the current convention or not, surely you don't advocate the unilateral moving of a page as major as Kobe? The [City, Prefecture] format is not a proposal, it is the standard on the Japan-related MoS. The convention was established because it was deemed useful and helpful to most. When a concensus is reached that it is no longer useful and helpful to most, a change will be made through a process of discussion and voting. But making changes to the MoS without discussion or concensus weakens your argument and is an insult to the people who work hard on these topics, people who work not to advance their personal objectives but to make Wikipedia better! CES 13:11, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Indeed, my personal objective in life is to make you poor dedicated encyclopedists miserable by moving your articles around (don't quote that out of context, irony doesn't travel well). The thing is, the manual you're refering to as scripture does not relect concensus, and you're fooling yourself if you think it does - just read the comments by various people above. If you poll a limited number of Japophiles, you won't nesesarily get the results most users want, and there are some things that 'expertise' doesn't help with. --zippedmartin 13:39, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Ehe, if you're going to revert my change with no comment CES, I suggest you at least move Hokkaido to the silly Hokkaido Prefecture that the 'J MoS' is ordering there. --zippedmartin 12:44, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, you posted while I was still typing. My comments above stand: if you have a problem with the MoS, bring it up for discussion. Don't just change it on your own. If you think something is silly, say why you think so and propose a change. Ideas like yours bring about change in Wikipedia. Actions like yours are what trigger edit wars. CES 13:18, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Ahaha, don't try and pull the 'acting unilaterally' card on me. Hokkaido has been there for over a month, and the objection was first raised well over a year ago - with no counter argument presented. If the 'manual' you're refering people to doesn't reflect the concensus, it needs to be changed, and this is wiki - a revert with no comment is what triggers edit wars, not updating pages. --zippedmartin 13:39, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Just in case any unfortunates wander into this debate, like I did a while back, this is the concensus of three that CES refers to. If people are in straw poll mood, I'd suggest they stick it somewhere where average users of wikipedia have a chance of seeing it, and don't weight the question in such a ridiculous manner. Personally, I think the issue is clear already, though some editors want a special-Japan-version that is opposite to everything in the main MoS, this isn't a case it's needed. --zippedmartin 14:22, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

  • I plead ignorance on Hokkaido ... I was on vacation most of the summer and have no knowledge or participation in the switch between Hokkaido and Hokkaido Prefecture either this summer or last year. I am not the Manual of Style, so save your gloating. If what you say happened did happen then it should be reverted in my opinion. Still, I'm not sure why you think that two wrongs make a right.
  • I'm not really sure what it is you want to accomplish here, especially by insulting the people who edit these pages. We held a discussion a while back and the concensus (sorry, but seeing how this is hardly a "hot" topic in the grand scheme of Wikipedia, it didn't seem to attract much interest or opinion outside of the "japophile" crowd) was that the convention stay. We've had another discussion in the last few weeks and the opinion seems to be split about 50/50 and there's been no vote. Results inconclusive. You're mad because "japophiles" are making guidelines for Japan-related articles. Do you not see the irony? Who else is going to set the guidelines? The "average user of Wikipedia" probably doesn't give a darn about most of the stuff debated here or most of the articles the guidelines effect. It comes down to a question of which is more important for a rule: the number of articles it affects or the number of article hits. It's a question of perspective, not "expertise" that makes the difference.
  • Personally, I think the city name convention is useful and worthy of an exception to the general MoS. At the same time, I think the parameters for cities could be improved. As I've always said, there are cities that probably don't need disambiguation in the title. You're beating a dead horse with the Hiroshima issue. I think most people here would probably agree that Hiroshima doesn't need to be disambiguated. My argument is that for the sake of the whole system (which I argue is useful except for a few exceptions) [Hiroshima, Hiroshima] causes no harm. My point is that before making a switch from [Hiroshima, Hiroshima] to [Hiroshima], it needs be decided ahead of time rather than on a case by case basis which other cities should have an exception and how to set up guidelines to describe this change in convention. If you are arguing that the convention works except for a few exceptions, then let's work to fix the situation. However, if you are arguing that the convention in its entirety is not useful, then I disagree strongly and I'm not sure we'd be able to find common ground. CES 15:44, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Rather than "gloating", "insulting... people", getting "mad", "not see[ing] the irony", "beating a dead horse" or just "arguing" anything any further, I'll present you with a simple choice, to be acted on as soon as you read this message. Either:

  • Move the Hokkaido page to Hokkaido Prefecture where the current version of the MoS (J) explicitly says it should be, present your reason for the move on the talk page, and be prepared to debate the change and listen to the arguments of others.
  • Change the line in the MoS (J) to reflect the current status yourself, as you will revert me if I 'change it on my own'.

Fair? I'm gonna go back to actually editing articles for a bit, less circular than the politics. --zippedmartin 17:35, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

I'm the person who most recently moved the article to Hokkaido, simply because "Hokkaido Prefecture" is redundant. It'd be like having an article at "PIN number" or "ATM machine". If the manual of style says it should be at "Hokkaido Prefecture", the manual of style needs to be changed. (Alternatively: Have an article at Hokkaido about the island, and one at Hokkaido (prefecture) about the prefecture. Just a thought.) --Golbez 17:54, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
With me and you, that's a concensus of two. Get one more person, we'll have a mandate to go round saying people are acting 'unilaterally and in violation of the J MoS' if they move it back. --zippedmartin 18:21, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Zippy - While I'm a little disappointed that you've regressed to giving orders, parroting my comments (how old are you?), and attempting to change the subject to Hokkaido of all things, I am pleased to see that you've grasped the "concensus" idea at least. Get a few more people and I personally see no problem with changing the MoS, if that's what a concensus indicates. You seem to be missing the point--this isn't about Hokkaido. And no matter how hard you're trying, it's not personal either. I reverted your change to the MoS because you did so without discussion or concensus, an act not much different from vandalism. You got caught at it. If you want to talk about Hokkaido, please start another discussion thread, this one's long enough as it is and going nowhere fast. CES 20:35, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

As CES is choosing to ignore my simple suggestion, may I request another editor tries revising the wording? I don't want to do it again myself, treading on the hallowed MoS (J) ground switched me from being ignored to being refered to in the diminutive and having my age questioned (what's next? sexuality?) Oh, and if you keep refering to your concensus, it's fair to make fun of the fact that it was three votes in a weighted straw poll - which seems to give you the right to berate people but not to correct a giant fallacy in the current version. --zippedmartin 00:28, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
I am not so sure about what I might accomplish here but I want to try to write about some historical background and sort out things. (I have been following the debate but has been distracted by a snap election in Japan :) I was hoping to see some consensus to emerge but it didn't happen very unfortunately.
Among issues we have here, one is about the procedure; that's how to come up with a convention and enforce it. I am the who started this page with a hope to ensure the consistency in style and, more importantly, gives a quick guideline to those who contribute to Japan-related articles. In other words, I believe the manual of style must both be consistent about style and reflect the views of the majority of contributors. I don't suppose that there is a correct style and an incorrect one but one that is preferred by many and and one that is preferred by few. To reflect the preferences of contributors, we, however, should look at not just the sheer numbers of contributors but those who do actual many contributions to many articles. In this case, the likes of Rick Block do a lot of tedious but very invaluable edits, and we must agree that we can't ignore the voices of those and the manual of style, if any, needs to be something preferred by such people. They may appear to be authority figure policing articles, but that's something we badly need in wikipedia. I have seen so many valuable contributors leaving wikipedia because they think the editing process here is not functioning, and we all should agree that
In any rate, we are probably all aware of problems so I don't have to repeat here. Instead, I started a new page Explanatory note for Japan-related articles. Some people (i.e., User:WhisperToMe and Jefu) have suggested to put a footnote at each article to inform readers about the conventions. So I thought we can put a link to this page at each article in the form of footnote, and we can prevent disparity from arising between those who follow this manual of style and those who are unaware of it and obliviously create inconsistency when they try to fix a problem. -- Taku 01:11, August 26, 2005 (UTC)
Sounds like a good idea. I think part of the problem is, as you said, many people are unaware of the conventions and why they arose. I commented a little more on the footnote idea below. CES 02:26, 26 August 2005 (UTC)