Many of Japan’s larger stations are notoriously difficult to navigate. Especially in the major metropolitan stations travelers must find their way through a complicated network of railway lines operated by different railway companies. Frequent redevelopment has also seen station buildings transformed into enormous commercial centers of maze-like complexity. No doubt there are many people who have the experience of arriving at a station in a timely fashion, only to be at a complete loss how to find their designated meeting spot. On such occasions Google Street View’s new station interior views are likely to prove your salvation!
Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi South Exit dome:
From April of this year, Google Street View has begun to provide interior views at Japan’s major stations. These station interior views were first provided for four stations: Tokyo, Shinjuku, Nagoya, and Kyoto. The service covers the main concourse areas, and also extends through the ticket gates onto station platforms. Passengers can also check online how to transfer between different railway companies. The plan is to expand this service further to another 50 major stations in Japan.
Shinjuku Station. You can now see exactly how to transfer between different railway companies such as JR and Keio.
Google Street View was launched in America in 2007, and in Japan in 2008. Step-by-step the Street View service was expanded from major metropolitan areas into every prefecture of the country, and has even reached uninhabited islands and the summit of Mount Fuji. In 2009 Google began a partner program with other businesses so that the same service could be provided for the interiors of shopping malls and individual stores. The new station interior views are a natural development of this service.
A view of a platform at Tokyo Station.
Although most railway companies publish station interior maps on their websites, many of these are only provided in Japanese which makes them hard for overseas tourists to access. Google Street View on the other hand, has multilingual support. Using this new service you can now preview the station’s interior layout in advance of your journey, check the location of your appointed rendezvous, find the most convenient passage or stairway for your transfer, or even scout out the location of boxed-lunch bento shops. With the expected increase of foreign visitors to Japan for the 2020 Olympics, it is fair to say these interior views will be an indispensable aid for rail travelers in Japan.
Article by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.