Google Maps gives the world an opportunity to see how far the people of Tohoku have come since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami turned their lives upside-down.
You may remember Google’s April Fools’ challenge last year, since it was pretty epic. If you missed it, Google came out with a game where you could search for Pokemon on the Google Maps app on your mobile device. It got rave reviews and it’s such a shame that it was only available for a limited time.
This year, Google is reaching out to a slightly older generation of video game lovers, letting us play Pac-Man on real streets of Google Maps!! Of course, being Google and April Fools’ Day, there is a catch, but more or less, you can transform neighborhoods into Pac-Man game screens.
Almost everyone loves soaking in an outdoor hot spring bath, called rotenburo in Japanese. The combination of soothing natural mineral water and being buck naked outside is enough to wash all your stress away. Just look at those little capybara in the photo above. Don’t they look so relaxed?
If you ever have the chance to visit Japan, we highly recommend you take a dip in a rotenburo. But if you aren’t able to make the long journey over to this wonderful country right away, might we suggest taking a virtual tour of six outdoor hot springs in Japan?
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.
On Wednesday of last week, the city of Hiroshima marked the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing. When the bomb detonated in the air above Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, it destroyed the city and killed up to 140,000 people. Almost everything in a one-mile radius of the target site was immediately razed to the ground. On August 9, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing a further estimated 70,000.
Hiroshima was chosen as the primary target for a number of reasons. The US wanted a target city with an urban area of at least three miles diameter. It also had to have been untouched by other air raids, so that the weapon’s impact could be accurately observed. Hiroshima was also thought to be the only potential target city that did not have any Allied prisoner-of-war camps.
But what if the A-bomb had been detonated over Tokyo instead? Or Osaka? Using statistics collated by Dr. Mark A. Carlson at the University of Nebraska, the Japanese Huffington Post has produced this interactive Google map answering just that question.
Tanuki, also known as Japanese raccoon dogs, hold a special place in Japanese culture. Often the center of folktales for their large testicles, magical abilities, and easygoing attitude, you can see them depicted in works of art all over the country.
However, now the tanuki is threatened. Not the actual animal, but a cake created in its image known as the tanuki cake. For many middle-aged Japanese people the mention of such a treat would awaken fond childhood memories. Despite this, the tanuki cake population in Japan has plummeted in recent years to the point of being critically endangered.
That’s why the website Tanuki Cake No Aru Toko Meguri has established the National Tanuki Cake Habitat Map, so that we may monitor and perhaps conserve these noble animal-shaped cakes.
Back in September 2011, there were widespread flight cancellations across China that were blamed on inclement weather. It was an unusually large disruption to the air traffic across a large country, so some took to the net to ask “What was really going on?” One theory that arose was that the nation’s airspace had been shut down because the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force was engaging UFOs.
Over time, however, the rumors subsided and became the stuff that urban legends are made of. Until now, that is, as a discovery on Google Map’s satellite images has turned up what appears to be two planes following a rapidly moving, blurry white object. It’s an image that many are theorizing to be that legendary close encounter.
As you might expect, Google is up to its usual pranks in honor of April Fools’ Day, but this time, they’ve created something that’s actually playable that allows any Google Maps user to be the very best, like no one ever was.
The Google Maps Pokemon Challenge was announced in the form of an awesome YouTube video, with specific details on how to gain the coveted title of any 90s kid: Pokémon Master. Brian McClendon, Vice President of Google Maps, explains, “Now using the technology created by the Google Maps team, we’ve prepared the most rigorous test known to man to find the world’s best Pokémon Master.”
But this year, Google has one extra trick up their sleeve, allowing anyone to actually catch Pokémon on Google Maps.
Thanks to the internet and Google Street View, you can see the world from the comforts of your own home. Eat a turkey leg while touring the Palace of Versailles or walk through the Taipei Train Station in your birthday suit, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how little you’re wearing while virtually touring famous sites online.
If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling around Asia, but haven’t quite saved enough time or vacation days, you can always take a virtual tour on Google Street View. Let’s take a look at the top virtual tourism locations in Asia.
Here’s a real-life motivational poster for you. Spotted in the Katsushika ward of Tokyo, this little kitty was precariously clinging to a small wall just as those crazy Google cameras came rolling by. Now he is forever immortalized on Google Maps, able to be seen by billions of people around the world.
Google Street View is amazing. Not only does it allow us common folk a few glimpses of abandoned islands, strange pigeon people, and the inside of the Ryōgoku Kokugikan sumo hall, anyone anywhere can now enjoy looking at the cuddly animals at zoos around the world. From the famous San Diego Zoo to the Chengdu Research Base in China, Google Maps will transport you to a world of cute (and you don’t even have to pay an admission fee).
This may look like a location from the original Star Wars, but what you’re actually looking at here is none other than the Tottori Sakyuu sand dunes, the only ones of their kind in the whole of Japan.
Tottori, Japan’s least populous prefecture, has finally joined the vast majority of the country in being featured on Google Maps’ Streetview service, which takes ground-level images of the areas surrounding major roads. Of course, this being Tottori, there weren’t always roads to drive on…
On April 23, the Ryōgoku Kokugikan sumo hall in Tokyo underwent a massive makeover on Google Maps. Now, the street view reveals a line-up of smiling sumo wrestlers. Once you get past them, you’re free to explore the entire building inside, from the seating area, to the food and souvenir stands and even the sacred dohyō, the ring where the bouts are held. We bring you all the best parts to explore, in easy to navigate clips straight from our page, after the jump.
Google Japan has announced that it is now possible for Google Maps users to access street view images of Namie, a coastal town in Fukushima that was severely affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami before being completely evacuated when the nearby Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant went critical.
It wasn’t just the earthquake or tsunami of March 11, 2011 that shattered the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture, it was the subsequent radiation. Slowly creeping across the once fertile land, it ripped families from their homes and banished them to evacuation centers elsewhere. Today, nearly two years after the worse nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the entire 86 square miles of Namie have been declared uninhabitable due to high levels of radioactive cesium. Even if families wanted to return, they can’t.
Amid this tragic loss, Google Street View is giving the people of Namie a chance to visit the town they were forced to flee.