If you've ever asked someone for directions when you have no clue what the place looks like, you'd probably get super pissed when they just point to something in the distance and say "Over there". Since I'm assuming you'll want a better understanding of your path, the knowledge of what it is in Japanese will be needed. To start, let's work on your general sense of presence:
前(まえ)(Can't read it?)
If it helps, look around and point out each place in Japanese so it better sticks(or if you have a box, write the different directions on it). On the off chance, someone ever asks you for some directions, one helpful phrase may be:
[(direction) of the (place)]
So if you want to tell a friend you're in front of the McDonald's, you can say "マクドナルドの前"At times, however, there may be other words that may help you find the right distance between you and your desired destination:
[across the street]
[nearby(meaning you can see it, but not quite touch it yet)]
[right near(as in close enough to touch, or taze)]
[next to something different(like a piece of pizza near a small tub of ranch)]
[neighboring something similar(1 house near another, 1 seat near another, etc )]
間 is used when describing when a location is between two others. Take for example this sentence:
[(place)is between the museum and the station]
When you want to meet up with friends in Japan and need to describe where you are, this can come in quite handy. To see this in action, let's listen in on Alexi, a long time student of the language making his first trip to the country, calling a friend he knows in Japan, trying to relay his location as he walks out of the train station.
[note: this is a common phrase used when answering the phone in Japanese, in case you didn't already know]
(It's Alexi, Akiyama)
ああ, きましたね. どこにいますか?
(Ahh, you're finally here. Where are you at right now?)
(Well, uhh...don't really know)
(So you don't know, huh? Hmm...What's close by to you?)
(Well let's see...I'm close by to Hachiko)
ああ, 居場所(いばしょ)知(し)ってますよ. もう直(す)ぐ行(い)きます. 待(ま)ってくださいね?アレックシさん.
(Ahh, I know where you are now. I'll be heading there soon. Just wait for me there, alright, Alexi?)
(Yeah, I'll be waiting)
If you need further aid, here's a handy map, in both Japanese and English(also note some of new words you'll see with different objects and beings. Those'll be revisited in a future post). There's a lot more about Japanese streets and addresses you'll need to know about, but that'll come in later posts. Coming up next, I'll teach you how counting works, which, if your favorite kind of math, like mine, is counting money, you'll wanna know.