Google Launches Street View-Based Travel Guide to Japan


Just in time for the cherry blossom season in Japan, Google today launched what it calls a “new visual travel guide” for the country. This new interactive guide, which Google created in cooperation with the Japan Tourism Agency and the Japan National Tourism Organization, is based on Google’s street view images and allows you to visit eight distinct areas in Japan (though it’s worth nothing that four of these are actually in Tokyo, including the city’s famous fish market and the Ahikabara and Ginza shopping districts).

The guide, it is worth noting, also features some indoor imagery, as well as the ability to virtually stroll through some of the country’s famous gardens. Besides the obvious Street View feature and sightseeing suggestions, the guide also features restaurant, hotel and shopping recommendations – all of which feature indoor Street View images and a bit of information about the establishment.

According to Google, the guide features 339 locations – including “26 great cherry blossom viewing spots.” The guide is available in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

It will be interesting to see if Google plans to expand this program to cover other countries as well. While there are a number of third-party sites that use Street View to augment their travel guides, this guide for Japan is actually Google’s first foray into using this feature for a home-grown travel guide. The fact that the company calls this an “edition,” though, provides a hint that more of these guides may be in the works.

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Next Stop for Google Street View: The Amazon


Google has been taking its Street View cars and trikes to some interesting locations lately. You can already use it to get a close-up look at Stonehenge and meander through the National Museum of Iraq. The next project for Street View, though, looks like the most adventurous place Google has taken this technology so far: the Amazon. As part of this new project, Google will “pedal the Street View trike along the narrow dirt paths of the Amazon villages and maneuver it up close to where civilization meets the rainforest.” In addition, the Street View team will also take pictures from a boat as it travels down a part of the Rio Negro.

photo of the tumbira community

For now, none of these images are online yet. Once the project is complete, though, Google promises that you will be able to explore a 50km stretch of the Rio Negro River and the Tumbira community near the river. To do this, Google has partnered with the Foundation for a Sustainable Amazon (FAS), so there is obviously a strong educational component to this. Interestingly, the team also plans to teach some of the FAS’ representatives how to use the imagery equipment and plans to leave some of its tool behind so that they can continue the project after the Google team has left.


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