Cardinal Directions

Hello! I haven’t been able to find this question in a previous thread so here I go…

In English, directions are always said with North and South first, followed by East or West. Like Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest.

In Japanese however, there’s 東北, 北西, 南東, etc.

Is there some kind of pattern I’m missing so that I can better remember which direction comes first?

Originally the oriental way of referring direction is East-West generally comes first. While in the west North-South comes first.

After the Meiji Era, Japanese is using the western way to refer to direction. But you would still find the “old way” of referring direction around especially if the term predates the Meiji Era.

Today, 東北 mostly refer to a region in Japan. But when you watch news telling the direction of wind and so on, they mostly use 北東。

Sorry, if there’s grammar mistakes. English is not my first language.


Thank you so much! That makes a lot of sense!! :slight_smile:

(and don’t worry, your English is great!)

Wow that’s fascinating! Thanks for sharing this information.

Is it also the same for case for Chinese and if so do they still continue to use the old East-West first way?

By the way, your English is very understandable so don’t stress. Just keep pushing at it.

I’m from Southeast Asia, and yes most languages here are still using the East-West first pattern.

I don’t speak Mandarin, but I highly suspect that the Chinese is still sticking to her way. :smiley:

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