maps

Hike from the sea to the peak of Mt. Fuji with new bilingual English/Japanese guide map series

New maps let you experience all 3,776 meters (12,389 feet) of Japan’s tallest mountain.

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Prefecture names include: Pikachu, Teriyaki, and The Mushroom Kingdom.

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Need a soak? Amazing interactive map lists every public bath and day-use hot spring in Tokyo

Whether you’re a backpacker looking to clean yourself up or just want to experience this aspect of traditional Japanese culture, hundreds of options are at your fingertips.

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Japan’s government reconsiders plan to change country’s iconic hot spring symbol after backlash

Two prefectures, both famous for their onsen, are particularly opposed to the switch.

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Japan’s Cat Street View is back with another virtual meet-and-greet with beautiful town’s kitties

Part navigation tool, part feline photo safari, and entirely adorable.

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Hang a Japanese city on your wall with these amazingly detailed 3-D printed maps

These beautiful scaled dioramas let you walk the streets of Tokyo or Hiroshima again and again.

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Japanese government recommends changing Buddhist temple mark on maps to avoid Nazi connotations

Use of Swastika-like maji symbol deemed “inappropriate” for maps for foreign users.

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Japanese Twitter has its collective mind blown by “map of Europe” illusion

There’s more going on here than meets the eye.

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“We Finns just like it simple”: Net users can’t get enough of Helsinki Metro map

Finland: land of the Moomins, Santa Claus Village, and exceedingly simple metro lines.  

A series of maps comparing the municipal subway layouts in major cities around the world has been tickling some net users who just can’t get enough of Helsinki’s metro design. Some are calling it proof that Finns like to keep things simple–and you’ve got to admit, when you see the image stacked up next to a map of Tokyo’s metro system, they may have a point!

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Dedicated railroad otaku creates the digital swiss army knife of Tokyo Metro maps

This past year the Tokyo Metro has been brought to life in many different ways, ranging from a spaghetti-alien map to, well, a 3-D spaghetti-alien map. But it’s the latest re-imagining of the Tokyo Metro in the highly versatile SVG format that’s currently causing a lot of commotion online.

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Scope out which love hotel to take your next date to right now in Google Street View

Love hotels in Japan provide a service that is very unique in the world. They play a convenient role for those passionate one-night stands, which is exactly the sort of business you’d expect at a place called a “love hotel”. But they are also a place where married couples can go who are being pressured from their parents to give them some grandchildren. That’s kind of hard to do with mom and dad in the room next door. One quick glance in any city shows that these love hotels are a dime a dozen, which is probably why there are so many random and fun hotels with different styles of rooms and designs.

And now, with the convenience of the Internet, choosing a love hotel is easier than ever. Why should we settle with those “flattering” pictures they provide when we can take a tour of it ourselves with the help of Google Street View!

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Travel through time with these old maps from the Zenrin Virtual Museum

While the average human has not yet come unstuck in time, it doesn’t mean we’re completely at a loss when it comes to time travel. Yes, we may only move in a singular direction, but at least have artifacts from the past to help us look back! Everything from old photos to old pottery help us dig through our murky cultural memory to see how things used to be.

And, thanks to Zenrin, a Japanese mapping company based in Oita Prefecture, now you can travel internationally with their collection of digital maps from the Edo and Meiji periods. Whether you think England is a conspiracy of cartographers or you know the name of every mapmaker since Babylonia, there’s something here for everyone!

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South Korean design company turns subway maps into beautiful artwork you can hang on your wall

The first time I went to Tokyo alone, I got lost within the first five minutes of arriving at Shinjuku Station, unable to comprehend why there were so many transfers to different lines going in different directions. Without mobile data on my phone, I was basically one of the ‘internet-less lost gaijin’ crippled by the lack of Google Maps who ended up befriending the station master at every transfer station because, without them, I would probably have had to spend the night hanging out with the buskers on the streets.

The maps in Japanese subway stations are not only confusing, they also look like multi-colored spaghetti or weird roller coasters, and I can clearly recall thinking how nice it would be to have a better-looking representation of the city’s train lines. Thankfully, it looks like South Korean design company Zero per Zero has fulfilled my wish with their subway map designs, which are becoming a hot topic on Reddit.

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Stay right on top of Typhoon 19 with beautiful and highly useful online weather services

As of this writing Typhoon 19 is just about right on top of Okinawa. Classified as a “Super Typhoon” by NASA it is far greater in size and power than last week’s storm. The typhoon also goes by the name Vongfong, which we assume is Chinese for “killjoy” because of its incredibly bad timing.

If Typhoon 19 veers East and moves across most of Japan, it will do so right over the long weekend. With all the destruction and at very least wet nuisances brought by typhoons, the one sliver of light had always been that they often brought days off work and school with them too. Not this weekend, however, and many wait to see whether the weather will dash their holiday plans or not.

Luckily there is a plethora of online weather services for us to watch Typhoon 19 in near-real-time that are all both very informative and gorgeous enough to make you want to refer to them even after the storm has passed.

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Online “Population Decrease Map” of Japan paints a bleak, womanless future for the country

There has been a lot of discussion over the shifting demographics in Japan with the average age steadily rising and birthrate slipping year by year. These changes leave people wondering what will happen in the decades to come.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun website posted an interactive map of Japan which provides among other information the changes in the female population in Japan 26 years into the future. If you can’t tell by the scorched Earth color-coding used above, it doesn’t bode well for the country. In fact, it’s causing some analysts to predict the “annihilation” of 896 municipalities (a little over half of them) by 2040 due to depopulation.

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Could you draw a map of Japan that doesn’t look like poop?

Sushi, geisha, sumo – everyone knows at least a few famous things from Japan. But how many people actually know what the country looks like on a map?

Our Japanese writer asked six of his foreign friends with an interest in Japan to draw a map of the country to see just how good their knowledge of the country was. The following collection of decidedly poopy-looking doodles is what he got back.

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Five words that sound completely different across Japanese regional dialects

If you’re American, do you usually drink at the “water fountain,” the “drinking fountain,” or (my personal favorite, all you Rhode Islanders) the “bubbler”? And how about that fizzy fountain beverage–what do you call it in your neck of the woods?

In the same way that the above-mentioned drink is known variously to American speakers of English as soda, pop, or coke, Japanese speakers also use different terms for the same thing depending on where they live. In fact, Japanese regional dialects, known as hōgen (方言), can differ so much from the standard Japanese (hyōjungo [標準語]) spoken in the Tokyo area and national media, that subtitles are often necessary when someone speaks with a thick local accent on TV. It’s not just the pronunciation that differs; often the form of words and syntactical structures are completely distinct.

To show you what we’re talking about, we’d like to introduce five examples of words that look and sound completely different from standard Japanese when said in regional dialects. If you’re a speaker of Japanese and you use one of these words when speaking to someone from a different part of the country, you may be met with a blank stare if your terms for the same thing are mutually unintelligible.

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Ultra-simple smartphone navigation system helps you find your friends even if you can’t read a map

In Japan, only the largest of streets have names. Addresses aren’t sequential either, so as you walk down the road the numbers may go from 12 to 5, and then back up to 23. Since making it from point A to point B isn’t as simple as “turn left on Main Street, then right on Arrow Highway, and if you see the 1600 block, you know you went too far,” for most people, a good map is essential for getting where you want to go.

But what if your map-reading skills aren’t the greatest? Or how about if you’re looking for a person, like the girl you asked out to dinner and are supposed to meet up with in five minutes?

Thankfully, there’s now an app for that.

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Mapping smartphone use: Tweets for research!

Despite the best efforts of Microsoft and RIM, it seems that most of the world’s smartphone markets are largely divided into iPhone and Android users. As iteration after iteration of the latest and shiniest devices appear on our shelves, the debate over which is best grows ever more intense. While it would be impossible to pick a definitive winner in the smartphone race, we could go a long way to figuring it out by looking at how many users each system has attracted.

Enter Gnip, an IT company from the US that specializes in social media, and their beautiful, firework-like, Twitter maps!

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