Osaka, OSM, Japan

OK, I’ve been in Japan for about 10 days now, so will relate some of the events in chronological order, over the next few posts. In short, I decided upon a short spell of travelling to Japan, and noticed at the time that had just been formed, and the community was starting to come together, so sent a couple of emails out, asking if anyone would like to meet up, for a mini-mapping party or something. Was invited to Osaka City University to talk about OSM, and take part in a short mapping party to a local shrine, and invitied to Tokyo (where I am currently) to talk at a Linux User Group, and a mapping party around the area.

osaka mapping

Professor Venkatesh Raghavan and grad student Diasuke Yoshida, invited me to Osaka, to give a talk. David Hastings of the UN ESCAP also spoke on sustainable tourism via the web. Before we talked the geo phd and masters students walked to the nearby Sumiyoshi-shrine, together with multiple GPS devices, paper pen and digital dicataphone. We walked along an ancient road to the shrine past ancient buidlings, amazing gardens, shrines and cemetaries.

The talk went well, with interesting discussion about integrating other VGI information, harnessing the power of people (as typified by wikimapia), about how to utilise osm for pedestrian navigation. There is a great deal of enthusiasm for openstreetmap, and there is a feeling that the country will be mapped quickly by a growing band of mappers! In Osaka, the students are involved in a number of interesting projects including automatic feature extraction from gpx, live streaming of gps nmea to server, using differential GPS, forecasting (futurology) of geospatial (GPS was sucessfully predicted by japanese in 70s). Fascinating stuff.

Some general notes about mapping in Japan, from a westerners point of view:

Railways and subways have been privatised, and are often run by different companies, however they use colour for identification of these.

Tall buildings in city centre, not good for those old GPS units, but elsewhere, in the cities, there houses are about 3 stories tall, and smaller in Kyoto, for example.

Special mention has to be given to Prof. Raghavan, Diasuke, Sensei Minami, Akiko, and Danielle for their overwhelming hospitality in Osaka and Kyoto. An open invitation is offered to the UK to them!

next post will detail Tokyo, Openstreetmap, LUG, and some more observations about mapping such a dense place as Japan. Sorry if i’ve forgotten stuff, I’ve a horrendous cold (gotten from walking up a mountain in the rain!). Will try to update with more info.