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Friday, February 7, 2014

Virtual Tourists Rush In With Google




For awhile now, Google has had maps available for web surfers to use.

In fact... for a while now, we have been able to see real photos of our homes, our friends homes, and even work places and tourist sites via Street View, as the company with a one and a hundred zeroes after it (that's what a Google is) has tried its best to photograph the world.

Granted, some of the photos seem dated nowadays - I'm pretty sure I can see my vehicle parked in front of two houses - one I haven't owned in five years, now... but still... it's pretty cool.

As far as seeing the world, Google's Street View gives us the opportunity to see the world from the comfort of our - well, wherever you have an Internet connection and some sort of computing device.

And yet... despite Google's mastery of helping the average person find what they are looking for - whether it's spelling, company data, historical data, maps or, porn (I hear that some times people search for porn on the Internet), it doesn't always get things right.

In this case, I am talking about their Google Asia Pacific Blog that I found that introduces us - me - to the fact that we can now take virtual tours of some tourist spots in Japan, with full 360-degree panoramic viewing.

First of, I'm not exactly sure what Google is saying here in their blog:

"The postcard can never replace the destination. But maybe a view of the street can replace the postcard, especially if no one has to send it to you. "

WTF?!

Do people still send postcards? The last one I got was from Kristine South back in 1995 reminding me just how gorgeous she was and how I missed my chance to knock her socks off. I swear... every postcard she sent me included a photo of her fine self.


The above statement is part of Google's welcome statement regarding its Street View as a way to visit the world from the comfort of their crappy chair in their computer room (is it just me that has a hard, wooden chair pressed against his muscular ass? Probably).

I suppose Google just wants to say:

Hey! Come and check out our Google Maps... click on the street view and then use the 360-degree pix to get a real feel of the... of what exactly?

Well... that's where Google gets cute. Rather than peeking at the outside of someone's place of residence, you can use Street View and go inside.

Well, not really... but they are offering more and more chances to check out some touristy-type sites... and not just for Europe or North America... now you can check out the Asia-Pacific. Along with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, you can also check out Japan. 

Dotonbori Canal - I have no idea where or what this is.
As Google says - and I have no reason to doubt it - most of the most popular views for computer savvy travelers using its Street View, has been for the standard European destinations.

It's like when women get to university, they begin planning that European tour that always ends up going through Greece and meeting some guy. Boring. Unless you are that guy.

Now... I shouldn't say boring. I have never seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the dilapidated Coliseum of Rome, or the falling down megalithic rocks of Stonehenge in the U.K. (United Kingdom - not the University of Kentucky [go Wildcats!])... so I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss these girlie trips that often end up with someone getting roofied.   

I just don't know why everyone does the same tour... it's like a boring rite of passage. Mine was going to Japan. I didn't want to go, and I got a job, and I had fun.

I suppose few people consider Japan as a viable destination for a vacation because: it's far away; it's expensive; you don't speak the language; it's almost as foreign as China; not everyone loves Japanese food... oh and of course, half the country is radioactive - which it's not, by the way.

But... for whatever reason... like maybe it's too expensive to travel there - Japan is not always an option for travelers - despite everyone thinking they want to go to Japan to climb Mt. Fuji (I've never seen it), screw a geisha (you have the wrong impression of who geisha are and what services they perform), go check out a ninja school (they are ninja... you will never find their super-secret headquarters unless they want you to - and they you are dead) or find out if Japanese women are as hot as you have heard (they are... just like women from every other part of the world) (but, why would they want to screw you?).

So... maybe you might want to save up a few bucks for that eventual trip to Japan (you must go!), and in the mean time, you can use Google's 3D Street View tour of Asia... which has a lot more tourist site things to check out.

No... I'm pretty sure you can't use it to see inside a Soapland (read THIS), or upskirt on some unsuspecting teenaged prostitute (HERE)... and what the hell is wrong with you, anyways...

But Google wants you to see the sites... a pity they didn't really tell you how to get there. That was problem #2, for me. 

Is there a link that will take me to the Asia Pacific map that can at the very least get me started?

Well... I found one for you. Clicking HERE, will at the very least get you started on getting there. Just click on the icons with the star... it will open up a photo with a URL link on the map... click on the link... and you'll see a regular map with an icon of a human figure... click on that and PRESTO! - you are in Japan. In a panoramic view of whatever site you have chosen to see.

I must admit that it's not all that easy to 'walk' around the sites with your mouse... but patience, young padawan... the vacation isn't costing you anything except Internet time... which if you weren't using Street View, you'd probably be surfing porn. Can you really find porn on the Internet?

Anyhow, while I go check that fact out, here are the:

Top 10 Virtual Tour Destinations In Japan:
  • Mt. Fuji;
  • Hashima Island;
  • Biei Furano;
  • Dotonbori Canal;
  • Yufuin;
  • Sendai area;
  • Yokohama Port;
  • Umeda Station;
  • Tokyo Station Hotel;
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial   
... and more. 
      
Hashima Island and the ghosts of the Koreans killed via Japanese slave labor.
Now... check out the photo above... that's Hashima Island (aka Ghost Island) ... I wrote about it back in January of 2012... it's a curious island that is famous for being infamous. If you click HERE, you can read my historical article and see some great photos of the place.

It's interesting, and I believe not as well-known as a tourist spot... because it isn't - so why the hell is it a popular digital destination?  Probably just because you can't really get to it easily, and because it has an interesting back story.

But seriously... Biei Furano; Dotonbori Canal; and Yufuin?  - not only did I have no concept of these places while I lived in Japan, but I never heard of them until now. To be honest, I still haven't visited them on-line... but that's where I'll be going over the next several days - from the comfort of my desk... at lunch time. 

And, for the record - now that I have Googled them: Biei Furano is in Hokkaido; Dotonbori Canal is in Osaka; and Yufuin is in Oita-ken... but... I'm not sure what the big deal is about any of them. I'm pretty sure I've staggered lost and drunk across the Dotonbori Canal... and since it didn't even register with me, I can't see why this is a top virtual tourist destination. 

And Hashima? I visited the Street View of it, and was sorely disappointed the cameras didn't take me inside the demolished buildings, but I understand - the place is a wreck!

That's Mt. Fiji? I thought it would be bigger and filled with tourists and garbage.
Anyhow... try out Google Street Views yourself, and see where it takes you. And no... while it sounds like I am a shill for Google, I am not - though I wouldn't mind being one, if I got paid. In stock.

Anyhow... again... click this link: STREET VIEWS to get you to the right spot to start your tour of Japan. 


Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

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