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Google Street View: Japan

August 6th, 2008

Japan Probe reports that Google’s “Street View” feature is now finally active in Japan. Only in major cities, though–aside from the greater Tokyo metropolitan area and the Osaka-Kyoto area, only Sendai, Hakodate, and Sapporo are included. But in the Tokyo area, almost every street is included–very few blank areas indeed!

As in the U.S., the views are in 360˚ views, which can be scrolled by dragging the cursor over any view. The images seem to have been taken over the past 9 months or so, some even more recently. Take, for example, this image of my school: we moved in in May, and that’s my scooter parked in front.


In the views, certain parts seem to be blurred out, especially people’s faces, one can suppose to calm fears of intrusion of privacy–though if you’re on a public street, it seems that you can’t expect too much “privacy.” Also, it doesn’t work perfectly, especially in crowded places–but the resolution is low enough that it’s doubtful you’d recognize anyone outside of a specific context (like standing in front of their house). There is a “zoom” feature allowing you to zoom in to any view by two steps, but there’s no increase in resolution–you’re just blowing up the existing image.

I appreciate that Google has this–it represents a lot of effort–but I would much rather they had worked on directions and traffic first. This is a toy, directions and traffic are tools, and very useful ones.

For those of you wanting a few interesting spots:

The base of Tokyo Tower
In front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
In front of the National Diet Building (the Japanese parliament)
The National Sumo Stadium
Asakusa Shrine Main Gate
Look to the east to see the “turd building” (atop the Asahi Beer building; it’s supposed to be the head of a glass of beer somehow)
Tokyo Dome (not so visible from this angle–but look across the street for the amusement park with roller coasters jammed into a city block in central Tokyo)
Sunshine Shopping Street, near our apartment (must have been early morning for (a) cars to be allowed down the street and (b) pedestrian traffic to be so limited)

Any suggestions or requests? Links to your favorite places of interest?

  1. August 6th, 2008 at 01:49 | #1

    Arashiyama, Kyoto

    Tachinomiya in Ikebukuro (west gate)

    Cafe Pause In Ikebukuro. Seems to be overrun with Swedish people. Same CD playing every time.

    Kishibojin Temple

  2. August 6th, 2008 at 02:32 | #2

    Wow, thanks for the links, Luis! I just went exploring around Ikebukuro, and a few things have changed since I was last there. Any clue what the big construction pit on Sunshine is about? (and yeah, that had to be early morning, like 8ish I’d say from the sunlight and a few of the stores still being shuttered)

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