Shipping Designators for Japanese Cities

There are two creative processes that I find particular mysterious. Coming up with the names for musical bands…and shipping designators.

Here for example, is a short list of some of the shipping designators for Japan during the US occupation:1

Yokohama = EVIL
Tokyo = BULL
Osaka = CLUB
Nagasaki = HARD
Kobe = HACK
Sasebo = CARL
Shimonoseki = KIDS
Gunzan = OWLS

Anyone have ideas on how they come up with these names?2

UPDATE: Here is the longer list from the original document:

Shipping Designators Japan

  1. A shipping designator is a short address. Defined as follows by shipping designator — A code word assigned to a particular overseas base, port, or area for specific use as an address on shipments to the overseas location concerned. The code word is usually four letters and may be followed by a number to indicate a particular addressee.”  

  2. These are taken from Robert Eichelberger Papers. Series 1 Part 1 Reel 18 Box 49 Administrative Orders 1945-6 (4 vols). Headquarters Eight Army 25 Sept 1945 (Administrative Order 17 to accompany Field Order 32) 8.  


  1. I find the designation of Fukuoka as SAHO to be a little strange, since it’s the only one that seems like it could actually be a Japanese word, 作法 I would guess.

  2. Hiroshima as “RODO” is another possible Japanese term, for labor.

    But the list seems to defy any reasonable geographic order, or obvious strategic order. What we need is a military postal service historian….

  3. I suspect that ease of verbal communication, as seen in the NATO phonetic alphabet played a role in the decision process.

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