The second of my Japan blog posts: A couple of weeks ago, we had a mini mapping party at Tokyo. My hosts were Hiroshi Miura from Openstreetmap.jp and the Kodeo (Little Edo) Linux User Group, a great group of people, professionals and enthusiasts. We met at the IPA (the IT Promotion Agency – a kind of governmental centre for promoting excellence in IT), near Sugamo. Hiroshi Miura, who recently has started openstreetmap.jp invited me to give a talk and demonstration about OpenStreetMap (slides) and then afterwards we walked out to map a local famous garden. Unfortunately, I may have gone on a bit, as by the time we got there, Rikugi-en Garden was closing (4:30), so instead we journeyed out to the more complex streets around probably better for giving a more representative view of osm mapping, if less pretty!
Most of the folks had GPS, after Miura-san introduced the OSM project to them earlier in the year. Many different types of GPS were present, a few built into phones, bluetooth, loggers, and one person even had a PSP with GPS unit (he said that the quality was quite poor, plus the only application that it can be used with, only works in Japan). Part of the afternoon was meant to be an exploration of the various quality of GPS receivers.
Road signs are different in Japan, many roads are not named – instead, the block that the road goes next to are marked, blocks of houses become the address, rather than the street the house is on. More details can be found on the wiki for mapping in japan (in english), and http://www.openstreetmap.jp (in japanese). The ward boundaries are apparently available from the government under a similar to CC-by-A licence, so work could be done to help import this into the osm database.
This is “hatochan” Kentaro Hatori – the organiser of Kodeo LUG, pointing out local landmarks! In this case the very famous Anpanman, outside a childrens creche.
Here are the initial results from that day (click map for big):
We noted many things, such as a difficult five road junction, with various types of roads. Junctions, parking, amenities, restrictions and buildings were among the things mapped. We also encountered a special form of police box a “Koban” – different from a police station (we came across one of those as well). Japan’s cities, and Tokyo is a good example are very compressed and dense – something that was mentioned a few times by those mapping- which brings certain problems and opportunities, but I’ll talk about these in my next post.
After heading back to the IPA we extracted GPX tracks, and started to do some editing using potlatch and JOSM. Then it was off to the pub. I’m pretty sure we ended up at Akasaka Gorou Hazime, for beer, shochu, dried & fresh fish & other tasty morsels. Much laughs, and cultural understandings were exchanged about the world of otaku, and things geek! I found out about bash-on-rails (apparently it works really well), and some of the activities of the LUG, including selling “attractively covered” linux mags at the huge twice yearly Tokyo Comic Market. We ended up at a famous pig back-fat ramen shop, for a bowl of oishii-delicious noodles. I think we all enjoyed ourselves! Thanks to Hiroshi and the folks at Kodeo LUG!