Posts Tagged ‘maps’

Today’s J-blip: Virtual Japanese trainspotting

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Obsessed with watching Japanese trains go by? Now you can indulge your hobby regardless of bad weather or friends who just don’t get your hobby — whether you’re in Japan or not.

The website Tetsudonow (“railroads now”) has elevated trainspotting to a new level by allowing viewers to watch virtual trains zip around the major cities of Japan on a Google map mash-up.  Twitter users in Japan were bubbling with excitement yesterday, with some tweeting that the illustrated trains move in real-time. If only. The site’s explanation says that the trains actually move in accordance with their weekday timetables, so the map doesn’t reflect delays, stoppages or weekend schedules.

The navigation tools do, however, let you see the routes of most major railways in Japan at any time of day. To hobbyists’ delight, the trains are all labeled with their actual line colors and approximate shapes, so you can tell a green Yamanote train from a snub-nosed shinkansen at a glance. Click on any moving train to see where it’s coming from and where it’s headed.

Now you can trainspot with a bag of popcorn in one hand and a Coke in the other from the comfort of your swivel chair with no one jostling or judging you. Us? We wouldn’t judge you.

The fruits of sharing a love of art

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Tokyo Art Beat iPhone appIf you love art and design, then chances are you’ve spent some time perusing the listings and reviews found on Tokyo Art Beat (TAB), or if you get around, perhaps the Kansai (KAB)* and New York (NYAB) sites as well. About a year ago, the clever guys that run Art Beat released their API for all to see, which basically means that they made all of the site’s relevant data available for any programmer to use as he/she sees fit:

“In other words, this time we are setting our data free, free for people to share and broadcast to more places and in more ways than we could imagine.”

One of the fruits of such generosity is the new Tokyo Art iPhone application, which I am growing to love quite quickly. Not only can you search the TAB listings for a particular genre of art you’d like to see (photography, sculpture, etc.), you can also choose a specific area of town you’d like to explore.

The app goes a step further by using the iPhone’s maps and geolocation capability to find the closest Tokyo art and design events to wherever you’re standing. Just open the app and touch the “nearby” button after you choose a radius you want to work with (500 meters to 3,000 meters). A few seconds later, you’ll have gallery choices and directions. You can read TAB’s info on the gallery and exhibit, or go straight to a map.

Sort galleries by distance or popularity, or use the “free” filter to only see events with no entrance charge. There are hundreds of art events every month in Tokyo. TAB made them much easier to discover, and now the the Art Tokyo app practically walks you to their doorstep.

Just one more reason to get out there and see some art.

*KAB is currently on hiatus. They aren’t updating the calendar, but the site is still a great resource for art-related venue information such as maps, descriptions and directions. Just go to the Venues tab.

Google Japan explains Street View adorably

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

When web behemoth, Google started their ambitious Street View project, they knew they would run into cultural and privacy issues in every country it was introduced. But the level of resistance in Japan seems to have caught them completely off guard. First they were forced to re-shoot with lower cameras this spring, and recently they have been accused not only of destroying privacy but also of encouraging crime.

What to do? Well, earlier this month, Google Japan released the video below to assure naysayers that they are on top of the problem. The adorable “camera-man” in the clip is disarmingly cute – by design, I’m sure. Does he look like the type who wants to take pictures of your girlfriend’s underwear? I didn’t think so!


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