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GDorsett

How Do You Name Your Fictional Towns?

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GDorsett

I am planning a "small" modular layout in HOe and need some assistance with how to name towns. I'm not exactly good at coming up with names, let alone creating them...

Currently, the concept is a five or six piece set up in a mostly straight line with two towns at either end. One end will have a station that will interface with normal HO gauge track and the rest of the club layout and road access, and the other end will have a secondary town with no paved road access other than the narrow gauge rail line, although I may interface that end with a stretch of HOn3 track...

There will likely be one or two "industries" in the middle in the form of a farm and...something else. It is to be determined if this will be seaside or mountain side, but will likely be seaside in a warm area.

So remains the problem of "what do I name these towns".

Anyone have input on how to name small, somewhat isolated, old towns?

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Kiha66

One method is just to randomly poke around google maps.  The other I've tried is to smash two Japanese words together which describe the local area, which seems pretty common for Japanese place names.

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Kamome

Place names can be relatively matter of fact in Japanese and can lose some of their poeticism in English.

 

For example, place names may describe geographical features.  e.g. Asakawa is a city on the river Asa. (Asa River)

 

If it’s seaside you could use beach (浜) Hama - Hama _______ or _______hama. 
Hamamatsu (浜松 -Beach Pine Trees) Yokohama (横浜  next to beach)

 

Mountain you could use san or Yama (山)
Yamaguchi, Takuyama.

 

River - Kawa or Gawa (川) Asakawa, Kizugawa.

 

Depending in the size of the town, you could use Shi (市) city, Machi (町) town or Mura (村) village.

 

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railsquid

I named my layout/station ("Takahachikawa"/"高八川") as an amalgamation of the stations it's vaguely inspired by (Takao, Hachioji and Tachikawa).

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GDorsett
9 hours ago, Kamome said:

Place names can be relatively matter of fact in Japanese and can lose some of their poeticism in English.

 

For example, place names may describe geographical features.  e.g. Asakawa is a city on the river Asa. (Asa River)

 

If it’s seaside you could use beach (浜) Hama - Hama _______ or _______hama. 
Hamamatsu (浜松 -Beach Pine Trees) Yokohama (横浜  next to beach)

 

Mountain you could use san or Yama (山)
Yamaguchi, Takuyama.

 

River - Kawa or Gawa (川) Asakawa, Kizugawa.

 

Depending in the size of the town, you could use Shi (市) city, Machi (町) town or Mura (村) village.

 

 

That's exactly the sort of information I was looking for!

Much obliged!

I'll see what I can come up with.

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Socimi

I've made a while ago for the trainz simulator "Japan" thread, a list of prefixes and suffixes commonly used in Japanese place names.

 

I've attached it to this post.

Japanese names for Places and Stations.txt

Edited by Socimi
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nah00

I shamelessly stole Mitakihara and Kazemino from Madoka Magica. Stole the Mitsurugi name from one of the protagonists of Muv-Luv. 

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Sheffie

Perhaps slightly off topic?

 

A few years ago I designed a board-game that needed a dozen or so town names. I remember reading up on the various languages that were the origin of British town and village names, and from these I was able to derive some of the principles that determine place names—the various terms for hill, river-crossing, river-mouth, King, church, crops or fields, and other causes. 

Actually I did this for two games, one dark ages wargame and one trading game set in the industrial revolution.

 

The results were as follows. 

Dark ages: Galport, Hartsbridge, Barton, Eureka, Iron Cross, Ellswater, Millford, Cooperston, Selkirk, Farriers’ Haven, Strangford, Shepton, Pencombe, Carricksglen, Greenham

Trading: Tynhaven, New North Wales, Santa Mariana, New Bradford, Nova Caledonia, Porta Royale, Konigspoort.

 

As you can probably see, these are really nothing more than simple combinations of local objects and/or words meaning town or village. It’s only being in a foreign or archaic language that sets them apart from the sort of mundane place names you might see scrolling across a map of America. 

 

 

Honestly I think that to do a good job at this you need an interest in the languages and history of the subject area. It’s harder than it looks!

Edited by Sheffie
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Bob_NZ

If you have a number of towns or stops to name, and you are not good at Japanese or you might have a non-Japanese visitor operating it, then dont be afraid to compromise e.g. do your layout's signage in Japanese but have user friendly names that you can use on your control panel so you can  "send the freight train at the coastal station to the sawmill station"

 

Pasting name tags, Japanese or English, on the outside of the layout near each stop can be an aid and also creates a further interest  point for visitors following a train's progress and when they ask what it means you can explain its history as well - real or imaginary.

 

On my main layout I am trying to keep it simple by moving away from solely Japanese names to also using English names  that invoke the location e.g.  Sawmill, Port, Oil Depot, Summit, . 

 

Or by a combination e.g. Mimasaki Valley, Kaiganji Loop, Nobeyama Pass, Takaishi Cutting,  Hazama Gorge, Inu Coast, Owari Entry, Owari Halt,

 

Yard stops are in English e.g.  Arrivals A, Headshunt, Yard 3, Water Stop, Coal Stop, Ready,  Fish 1, Oil 1, Containers 2   and for depots:  Loco 2,  Mtce 1, Steam 4, Stall 2 etc

 

Another thing that I have done is use Japanese names that have an English sounding:

"Hidume Track 1"  for hidden track 1 (hidden from me)

"Nose Track 1"  for hidden track 1 (no can see)

"Hide Track 1" for hidden track 1 (hidden)

 

 

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Cat
14 minutes ago, gcmr_new_zealand said:

Pasting name tags, Japanese or English, on the outside of the layout near each stop can be an aid and also creates a further interest  point for visitors following a train's progress and when they ask what it means you can explain its history as well - real or imaginary.


It's very helpful that the actual stations we are modelling all have their names prominently posted in Japanese and English.

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GDorsett

The plan was to have two towns at either end and then two or three stops inbetween, mostly being town A, Town B, The Farm, The Hotel, and what will be a combination junction and mine.

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Kamome
5 hours ago, GDorsett said:

The plan was to have two towns at either end and then two or three stops inbetween, mostly being town A, Town B, The Farm, The Hotel, and what will be a combination junction and mine.

So you could create names around the geographic features of the main towns

E.g. _______gawa or ________yama

 

The hotel area could be a hot spring tourist stop, _________onsen

 

The farm probably wouldn’t be named at the station but you could use _______machi

 

Just using your forum name, you could create some ideas

 

GDorsett= Ji-Do-Se-To

 

Setogawa

Jido-onsen

Tojiyama

Tomachi

 

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Azamiryou

If you have (or can pick) a particular region you are basing your layout on, you can find actual towns and stations in that area, then mix and match parts of the names or at least use some of the common beginnings and suffixes you find there. This will help give some local flavor. I like the Akita area, where several towns have the suffix "-date" (Odate, Kakunodate). So I usually include "XX-date" as a town/station name. For one town, I borrowed the beginning from "Yokote", getting "Yokodate" as my fictional town.

 

If you know some Japanese, you can also modify real place names with small changes. For example, "Takanosu" (Hawk's Nest) is a station in Akita. So I named a station "Washinosu" (Eagle's Nest).

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Martijn Meerts

Names is one of the more difficult things for me. I'm not too worried about the N-scale stuff, as it's not prototypical seeing how trains from various eras, regions and even countries will be running on it. I wouldn't mine naming the main station Shinjuku even, considering there is / will be some inspiration taken from that general area.

 

For my H0 project, I want to go a with a fictional railroad, but based on various actual locations. The railroad will need a name, but for the towns / areas I might just pick existing Japanese names of areas and towns that currently have no stations or railroad, and go for an alternate world type of thing. Like, what would've happened if near such and so town they found coal or some sort of ore, and / or have a large forest.

 

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GDorsett

I have started to call the layout/railway "猫のバックトレイル" or "Neko no bakkutoreiru" or "Cat's Back Trail" because it turns along a lump hill/shoreline that someone thought looked like a cat once?

Town A where the narrow gauge begins and connects to the mainline might be "始まりの街", Hajimari no machi (MariMachi for short), or "Town of Beginnings" being the start of the line.

Town B where the HOe ends and connects to an HOn3 yard might be "変化の町", Henka no machi (Henkano for short), or "Town of Change" since the train changes gauges.

Both towns will have names based on the railway since that's what spawned them.

 

I have not named the beach stop, onsen/hotel stop, or the farm stop yet.

 

For operations, I'll either refer to the towns by their short names or as "Town A/B". Ideally, each stop will have a sign with their original and translated names once the whole thing is done.

Edited by GDorsett
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NateJ93

I used a business name for my layout.

I wanted to use "Yama" in my layout's town name but couldn't figure out what to put before it.

I decided to use "Kobo" after a Japanese restaurant near where I worked (I'm not big on Asian food but they did make a mean teriyaki chicken and rice bowl).

My fictional suburban railroad is called "Higashigawa" which translates to "East River" (Please correct me if I'm wrong).

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JR 500系

Mine was simple enough, as there is a massive steel bridge (560mm long) and quite possibly cannot be missed, i named it Takahashi town, or (高橋) which literally means 'High Bridge'. Strange enough, it is also the third most common Japanese surname according to Wiki ~  😛

Edited by JR 500系
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AhmadKane

This is very interesting. What do you think about this.

 

I call mine Nippon Bali, but I'm considering of changing the name to something both Indo and Japanese. 

 

Indonesians also have the same poeticism with japanese towns. Way Kanan, a regency, is named after the lampungnese word of river (Way) and Right (Kanan). The River on the Right. 

 

I believe lake was -湖 (Ko). And I need something balinese-javanese, sanskrit I believe. I always liked the name Mandala, meaning circle in sanskrit and a prominent symbol of hinduism. It could also represent the circular shape of the lake that I designed. 

 

Ergo, what do you think if I named my layout. Mandala Lake. Or マンダラ湖.

 

 

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