Thursday, July 14, 2005

Google Maps adds Japan street maps

+ StreetMaps

The Japanese blogging world is abuzz this morning with the addition of street maps for that country. Here is an example from the city of Osaka, or the Ginza prefecture in Tokyo. Right now you can search for English placenames (eg - search: "Osaka, Japan" or "Ginza, Tokyo, Japan") and it will take you to that location but it doesn't appear that full Japanese addresses are working. (I tried the head office for Nissan, and it was a no-go).

Flickr user Earthhopper does point out something interesting about Google street maps for Japan and sends out a caution to those folks looking to use the Google Maps API for Japan:

All of Japan's available road maps are still drawn based "Tokyo Datum", which is cancelled in 2001 by Gov to follow WGS84 Datum. Google Map is based on WGS84.
So to use Zenrin's Japan road map in Google Map service, Google slightly moved their map for the area of 30-50N and 115-152E to South East for about 400m. It's still virtual Datum as it was nothing more than simple translation - the Earth is a sphere...
So if you use WGS84 in Google Maps API, false japanDatumHack.
See source code sample at one of Japanese expert's website:

Google should address on this issue sooner.

API is fine, but you can't control and Google's simple translation should only be a temporary solution for some time, as the moved area includes North and South Korea, and some part of China. I don't know how they will change this situation in near future, but the only final solution is Japanese map vendors should provide WGS84 based road map. I don't know when it's gonna be.

He has created an annotated example of this explanation here. Read the full Flickr discussion about the introduction of Japan street maps on Google Maps here.

We will no doubt start to see Google Maps mashups coming using Japan locations and data in no time! If anyone understand how to read Japanese and can help to bring these to our attention, please post a comment with the mashup's URL and a short description of what the mashup is doing! Thanks!
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