There's a very special "place" in Japanese and it's called 所 (tokoro). In combination with other kanji, it also goes by しょ (sho) or じょ (jo), as in 場所 (basho, place/spot) or 近所 (kinjo, neighborhood). But it's the tokoro reading that has the widest applicability for designating places — and many other things, as we will see. In fact, we could even say that tokoro in Japanese is all over the place.

We start our little tour in the kitchen, called 台所 (daidokoro; literally, "pedestal place"). And even though the other rooms in the house do not have specific tokoro designations, they can all be paraphrased with a tokoro expression: テレビを見る所 (terebi o miru tokoro, place where you watch TV), ご飯を食べる所 (gohan o taberu tokoro, place where you eat), 昼寝する所 (hirune suru tokoro, place where you take a nap), and so on.

When you leave the house you can either head for 近い所 (chikai tokoro, places close-by) or 遠い所 (tōi tokoro, faraway places). You can also choose between よく行く所 (yoku iku tokoro, places you often go) and 行ったことのない所 (itta koto no nai tokoro, places you have never been to). Just keep in mind the old saying, 所変われば品変わる (Tokoro kawareba shina kawaru): "Different places, different customs."