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October 15, 2008 10:27 AM   Subscribe

What does this Japanese license plate say?
posted by joelf to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
the top says shinjuku-ku
the bottom says mo 3 ge 89
posted by zennoshinjou at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2008

at least if my memory is correct.. its been a while.
posted by zennoshinjou at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2008

I think he wanted a translation :)
posted by empath at 10:37 AM on October 15, 2008

Zennoshinjou has it right. There is nothing to translate. Shinjuku is a place and the ku indicates a ward of a city. The hiragana are part of the license plate code.
posted by Alison at 10:39 AM on October 15, 2008

To clarify, the top is a location, like the province on a Canadian license plate. Specifically, it's one of the 23 wards of Tokyo.

The characters on the bottom are just characters in one of the Japanese syllabaries, assigned randomly, like letters on a Canadian license plate.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2008

Shinjuku-ku (Shinjuku Ward in Tokyo) is the location of the licensing authority (cars are not license by state, but by the (sometimes) obscure locale where the DMV office is located).

The character (actually a katakana "kana" or glyph) on the left-hand side on the bottom is "mo", while the second "kana" is the Hiragana for "ge".

The license plate is most likely that of a small commercial delivery scooter.

This website should have some more information about Japanese license plate protocols.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:43 AM on October 15, 2008

Thanks everyone!
posted by joelf at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2008

I have seen maps that refer to Shinjuku as "new tavern" and Harajuku "field tavern". Shibuya "bitter valley", Aoyama "Blue hill" and so on. Quite an interesting map, wish I had more of it :)
posted by lundman at 7:34 PM on October 15, 2008

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