Google Maps has been a great boon to me in my time in Japan. In fact, GPS maps were the biggest reason I got my first smartphone in 2009, followed closely by the ability to write unfamiliar kanji by hand into a dictionary I’d always have with me. But Google Maps was definitely the biggest draw.
In the interceding six years, Google Maps has grown from something useful to something indispensable to many people. It’s not just good for helping you find a tiny store in Shibuya, either, since the maps can open up a whole world of digital sightseeing for people. And where there are bored people on computers, there are also bound to be Easter Eggs and creepy pranks to be discovered.
Horrifying pigeon people and naked sunbathers aside, Google Maps does seem to be a treasure trove of discoveries, from the abandoned streets of Fukushima to some sumo fun. However, the discovery getting attention in Japan right now is a total accident!
Apparently, the Google Maps car captured what looks like a police investigation in Hokkaido on Hokkaido Prefectural Road 151. You can even make out a piece of police equipment standing at the side of the road from a few blocks back if you look closely enough, but the images below give you a good sense of the police work caught on film.
▼Stop! In the naaaame of love!
Above you can see a police officer standing in the middle of the intersection waving a traffic flag. However, if you move forward little by little, you can actually see the officer running out into the street to direct the Google car to turn left!
Now, you have two options on Google Maps–you can go left or you can head straight forward. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book but without all the papercuts from saving your place!
If you go left and look to your left, you can see the police doing…something. It’s not really clear (which is probably the point), but it is interesting to note that there are now three officers! Where the other officer came from, we don’t know, but it seems to indicate that the car might have been stopped for a while.
If you continue forward after turning left, you can also see a police car with its trunk open. Your guess is as good as ours as to what happened, though our money is on the cops investigating a crime scene after one of Santa’s reindeer ran over an unlucky Hokkaido resident.
On the other hand, if you decide to ignore the police officer’s instructions and go straight through the intersection, you can still see them hard at work when you turn around. We suppose this means that the Google car stopped, turned left, and caught the police on film while heading back towards the intersection.
Oddly enough, if you stop at the intersection and look left, you seen an image totally unrelated to the police investigation! It’s not even cloudy anymore! We’re guessing that the police might have encouraged Google to use a different picture because they’re protecting Santa.
▼It’s a North Pole/Japanese police conspiracy!
You can check it out yourself on Google Streetview here.
Let this be a warning to you if you’re thinking about engaging in any conspiracies to cover up a reindeer hit-and-run–make sure there aren’t any Google cars around to capture it!