Virtual Tourism FTW
August 9, 2008 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Google now has the megacity of Tokyo photographed at the street level. Coverage is reasonably impressive, from the end of the road a couple of hours out of Musashi Itsukaichi, itself a couple of hours from Tokyo by train, to Narita Airport, down to Enoshima, and many, many, many, many, many points in between. . .
posted by yort (49 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Cool, now I can relive my stay there in February without all the snow.
posted by Poagao at 8:01 PM on August 9, 2008

Oh, and don't forget the Golden Turd.
posted by Poagao at 8:05 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been an Altavista man since '98 or so, because everyone knows Yahoo is for noooobs. I just ran my standard test searches, "slayer midi files" and "cool animated gifs", on and the results are so rich! It loads so quickly too...

Kind of a gimmicky name, but I'm sure they're going to bought out for megabuck$ by one of the big boys any day now...

Anyway, great post! A+
posted by phrontist at 8:16 PM on August 9, 2008 [6 favorites]

Poagao, I think you have the wrong turd.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 8:40 PM on August 9, 2008

Orange Pamplemousse has the right turd. That is THE Golden Turd.

But, GOOD GOD AMIGHTY, THIS IS INCREDIBLE!! Just walked around my neighborhood. Right past my house (no, I'm not gonna link to it), and this is just phenomenal.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:49 PM on August 9, 2008

The residential neighborhoods the streets are so narrow the house so close the camera is right into peoples lives.
posted by stbalbach at 9:08 PM on August 9, 2008

This blew my mind when I realized I could position the camera on my dorm building at Cal State Long Beach. I used it shortly after when looking up directions, and instead of hurriedly glancing at addresses while dodging traffic, I was able to immediately recognize my destination based on the street level view I had seen earlier. Not to mention I can cruise around New York as a virtual tourist.

Genius, in my opinion.
posted by Defenestrator at 9:12 PM on August 9, 2008

Awesome awesome awesome-- I wish they woulda released it two weeks ago when I was looking for a new apartment. At least now I can recreate the excitement of my morning commute from the comfort of my own home!

I guess you should be on the lookout for this little guy.
posted by damo at 9:34 PM on August 9, 2008

ah, that blows. My favorite shop in the world (Akihabara's T-Zone) became a ドン・キホーテ.

T-Zone was kinda like Fry's without the Target vibe. Their top floor had a DIY PC builder section that was awesome back in the late 90s.
posted by yort at 9:38 PM on August 9, 2008

Oh wait, they drove by my place and photographed inside my open window. At first glance it was a bit creeptifiying. But still, it's cool. I guess they have editors in place, or at least enough judgment not to include anything too candid?
posted by damo at 9:58 PM on August 9, 2008

Sorry, I copied the URL from the previous link. Sorry. That is, indeed, the golden turd I meant.
posted by Poagao at 9:59 PM on August 9, 2008

Okay. So, for those of us who aren't conversant with Tokyo, where's a good place to find English-language "here is this famous thing that was in this book" or "here's this really significant place" links?
posted by scrump at 10:33 PM on August 9, 2008

I just noticed this the other day. My house is pretty far out in the 'burbs of Tokyo, but it's right there in street view. I looked up all my previous residences and they're all there, too. Pretty impressive for a city as massive as Tokyo.
posted by zardoz at 10:35 PM on August 9, 2008

The world's largest crosswalk. Tokyo Tower. Edo-Tokyo Museum, Ueno, and Odaiba craziness.

It's too bad that there's some places they couldn't go.

Also, don't forget Sapporo! (Note: Beer factory more impressive in person).

Alright. Sleep now.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 10:39 PM on August 9, 2008

They haven't gotten to my house yet! I'm officially a country bumpkin!
posted by donkeymon at 10:44 PM on August 9, 2008

^ good question! Tokyo is pretty random so everyone has their own reference spots.

eg. Here's the bridge in Harajuku where the freaks hang out on weekends. I'm no cultural expert but IIRC back in the late 70s and 80s Takeshita Dori became the mecca of Japanese fashion

This site has images of Takeshita street plus a lot more Tokyo cultural centers. Here's the google mapview of the craziness.

Here's the "Dinosaur" building featured in Lost in Translation, from the viewpoint of the middle of the famous Shibuya "scramble" crossing.
posted by yort at 10:49 PM on August 9, 2008

google maps has my neighborhood down on street level, with my car in the driveway of my house. I musta been inside when the Google clown car drove by that day.

I don't know why, but that's just fuckin' creepy.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:56 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is the best bakery in Tokyo, period. I challenge anyone to point me to a better one!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:16 PM on August 9, 2008

What a clean city! Well done, Tokyo!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:18 PM on August 9, 2008

Orange, funny thing is that they were able to drive up the Sun Road covered Shotengai in Kichijoji . . .
posted by yort at 11:20 PM on August 9, 2008

Asakusa's famous Kaminari-mon, entrance to Sensoji temple.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:26 PM on August 9, 2008

This is completely awesome. I always wanted to see Tokyo, but I have been too busy going to Scotland. Now I can see what I'm missing! (And after taking a virtual walk through Tokyo, I definitely have to visit for real one day.)
posted by perilous at 11:31 PM on August 9, 2008

flapjax, that may be so in the general case but I was a very happy boy with a fresh "Batard" hot out of the oven from this Pompadour store. That and a liter of Koiwai lact coffee and I was GOOD TO GO.
posted by yort at 11:41 PM on August 9, 2008

yort, it's a testament to the generally high level of food quality in Tokyo that a batard from a bakery chain like Pompadour is still relatively good. Food is, of course, one of the great things about this town. But if you ever make it over to the bakery I linked in the comment above (here's their website) and get one of their baguettes, fresh outta the oven, you will die and go to French bread heaven.

And virtually everything else they bake is topnotch. The croissants are every bit as good as any of the best croissants I ever had in France. They make an insane buttery loaf that I love more than life itself. They have a cranberry bread to die for. Their whole wheat loaf and their pain de campagne, their pizzas, their sandwiches, hell, their chocolate chip cookie... it's all fantastic. It's a bread lover's nirvana.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:07 AM on August 10, 2008

Super weird to be able to see my in-laws new car.
posted by birdsquared at 1:10 AM on August 10, 2008

By the way, yort, just a few blocks further down Roppongi Dori from that Pompadour you linked to, there's one of the best music venues in town: Super Deluxe. Spacious, relaxed, lots of interesting music and whatnot. Highly recommended. And that's not just cause I play there from time to time.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:15 AM on August 10, 2008

Hey, Flapjax... where is a picture of where you live? My Gurufurendo spent hours showing me around her home nabe (Itabashi) on google the other day. On the other hand, there is a Japanese bakery in Fort Lee New Jersey that does a pretty darn good job of keeping us in cream puff heaven when I am in the states...
posted by zaelic at 1:16 AM on August 10, 2008

Hey, zaelic, my brother! I'm too paranoid to link to my house in a public forum. There's a price on my head, don't you know...

But, check yer MeFiMail. I'm sending you a link to my humble abode, as I trust you're not out to track me down and kill me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:34 AM on August 10, 2008

Hey, Wheres Capcom HQ's?
posted by Student of Man at 1:54 AM on August 10, 2008

^ Capcom's Honsha HQ Bldg in Osaka.
posted by yort at 2:52 AM on August 10, 2008

One of the better shots I've found so far -- Odaiba / Rainbow Town from the upper deck of the Rainbow Bridge.

They've got some of Awaji-shima in their db -- here's a nice shot of the south coastline -- so you can check out the Akashi Kaikyo bridge, too.
posted by yort at 3:22 AM on August 10, 2008

Chris Salzberg over at GlobalVoices has a great translation of a Japanese blogger who has strong negative feelings about Street View Tokyo: Letter to Google about Street View.

And the best bakery in Tokyo? Easy. Levain, Tomigaya.
posted by gen at 4:02 AM on August 10, 2008

Gotta get you over to shitamachi, gen: you might be surprised!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:04 AM on August 10, 2008

flapjax: you're on :)

(It may have to wait until later in the fall.)
posted by gen at 4:16 AM on August 10, 2008

Hate to be such a downer, but Google has also finally mapped street views for New Orleans. Click around the Ninth Ward... and weep.
posted by zaelic at 4:30 AM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

ZachsMind: google maps has my neighborhood down on street level, with my car in the driveway of my house. I musta been inside when the Google clown car drove by that day. I don't know why, but that's just fuckin' creepy.

Creepier on a much smaller scale, last year, Google drove down my street one morning while my car was still parked in front of my place, AND also drove into my office parking lot while my car was there, too.
posted by emelenjr at 5:02 AM on August 10, 2008

(It may have to wait until later in the fall.)

Hey, that's cool. It's way too hot to knock around the city streets now, anyway!

Concerning the Letter to Google about Street View, thanks for that link. I have to say, the way he frames his argument, that is, The Utter Uniqueness Of The Japanese People And Their Culture, is more than a bit tiresome. That attitude is prevalent among Japanese and non-Japanese (worldwide) alike, though, so please understand that I don't mean to imply that this mindset is only found among Japanese nationals. But the basic privacy issues he raises are (surprise, surprise!) not unique to Japanese people, even if this fellow is quite certain that they are. And I think some of his arguments are really quite naive and/or unnecessarily alarmist. I mean, for example, this is going to result in some sort of crime wave as burglars choose houses to break into on the basis of a Street View picture? Come on...

I think it's important to keep in mind, though, that the blog entry is one guy's opinion, even if he does speak in sweeping generalizations about *we Japanese*, *you Americans* and all that. And I don't doubt that there are many, many Japanese who will find Street Views to be enormously helpful in finding their way around in this mind-bogglingly huge city full of streets with no names. I also think a lot of folks here will simply find it fun, interesting and educational. My daughter loved it: I finally had to pull her away from my computer today, after about an hour of navigating her way around our neighborhood. She had a blast: "Look papa, my old kindergarten!" ....... "Look, Chikako-chan's house!" ....... "Look, my school!"

This is kind of funny, too: my wife sent a link earlier today to a friend of ours who runs a little multi-use place in a small building in my neighborhood: they have dance classes, pottery classes, childcare services, etc. The link, of course, was to a picture of the building. She wrote back, humorously lamenting that she wishes she had replaced her torn shoji (paper) window panels a bit earlier, before this picture was taken! But it was, you know, a laugh! She didn't die of embarrassment and shame, as some would no doubt expect of a *Japanese*...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 AM on August 10, 2008

In the early sixties, I used to live at 39, Imai-cho, Azabu, Minato-ku (I still remember the address from having it drilled into my head as a kid!); I wish I knew enough to find it on Google Maps, but if anyone can find a nearby street view, it would either give me a nostalgic thrill or send me into a paroxysm of rage about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and either way it will be fun for one and all!
posted by languagehat at 6:40 AM on August 10, 2008

Oh, this is a godsend! I am now in this huge city, unfortunately equipped with very bad maps. This will make the rest of my trip a much nicer and less lost experience.
posted by monocot at 6:51 AM on August 10, 2008

So let's have some sight-seeing coordinates or links, people! Give us a tour!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:36 AM on August 10, 2008

languagehat, Imai-cho (今井町) was apparently an "old" cho name of Minato-ku that was reformed into the Akasaka area of Minato-ku. Here's a map of the old the old cho (in red).

Imai-cho housed the American Embassy living quarters -- nice digs up in the hills above Roppongi and Akasaka -- Imai-cho was basically where Roppongi blended into Akasaka.

Dunno where "39" was in the old scheme, but here's a streetview at the edge of Imai-cho. If you go up the hill you will see more of the embassy housing on your left, down the hill will take you to the flats that are now Roppongi.

Kinda like Myst now that I think about it :) There was a French-made iteration of Myst done ~10 years ago that actually had panos at each node. Forget the name but it was impressive.
posted by yort at 9:36 AM on August 10, 2008


National Diet Bldg

The Budokan (with Bz tour trucks in front, LOL)

Tocho (Tokyo City Gov't Building)

The Dark Heart of Kabukicho

Shakujii-koen (park) -- One of the primo places to live that's outside the Yamanote
posted by yort at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2008

Alas, the car stopped a mere 50 ft. or so from my old apartment. I see the old UFO Hotel down the street has yet to return to the mothership, though.
posted by jal0021 at 1:23 PM on August 10, 2008

Imai-cho housed the American Embassy living quarters -- nice digs up in the hills above Roppongi and Akasaka

And that's where we lived! Bless you, now I can find it on my Tokyo map and see the route I used to take walking to the Sanno Hotel (apparently no longer extant, though there is a New Sanno Hotel) and the U.S. Embassy.

*sinks into nostalgic reverie*
posted by languagehat at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2008

Cool. Thanks yort & jal0021!

I also "drove" out to some of the far reaches. Pretty much the back of beyond out there; lots of farmland.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:49 PM on August 10, 2008

...lots of farmland.

Rest assured, the local purveyors of asphalt and concrete are working hard every day to rectify that situation....
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:57 PM on August 10, 2008

I just found my apartment building, and my friend's, down here in Osaka. It's awesome, but at the same time, slightly creepy....

Though mostly awesome.
posted by emmling at 10:17 AM on August 12, 2008

National Diet Bldg
I thought it'd be bigger.

I really couldn't help it.
posted by scrump at 11:34 AM on August 14, 2008

« Older Woking Walker   |   Yes, the same port that fell into the ocean off... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments