Mapillary in Japan

The Mapillary community is spread across the world, with significant contributions coming in from Finland in the north, Argentina in the south, and—if we’re slicing the world in half by the international dateline—the USA in the west and Japan to the east.

japan1 Mapillary Meetup 2018 Tokyo

Aizuwakamatsu, host city of the global State of the Map 2017, is extremely well mapped as far as imagery goes, which complements the high quality of OpenStreetMap data there. The greater Tokyo area as well as Fukushima prefecture are hotspots of Mapillary activity as well. Furthermore, the Japanese community has taken Mapillary to the far reaches of Hokkaido—Japan’s northern island—as well as into the far southern island of Okinawa.

japan2 Impressive coverage by user jmmapiranger around Aizuwakamatsu

The State of the Map 2017 conference left a great impression on Ed, who attended on behalf of Mapillary. The Japanese OSM community, which overlaps with the Mapillary community, carried out the organization with great diligence, and also cooperated fantastically with international partners. The host city itself appears to be something of a hub for geospatial activity, and serves as the pride of the Mapillary community with such excellent imagery capture—both in the quality of the images, the carefully planned method of capturing, and the completeness of the map. The bulk of this is from Mapillary user jmmapiranger in Japan.

As Ed and I have worked to build the Mapillary community as well as the technical tools that community members need, we’ve had a chance to interact with users from all these global corners. While Ed was able to meet many of the key Mapillary users in Japan in 2017, to most of us at Mapillary the Japan community remained mysterious. After several years of pleasant interaction with the Mapillary community in Japan, however, Brenna, Katrin and I were finally able to meet some of their most passionate members at State of the Map 2018 in Milan, Italy.

japan3 Kinya and Taichi from Japan, with Brenna, Chris, and Katrin

When meeting Kinya-san, Taichi-san, and Hiroshi-san in Italy, there was a buzz of excitement among our small Mapillary entourage. The three of us from Mapillary were well aware of the contributions of the Japanese community, including beautiful imagery from across the islands, a Mapillary user-conference that we only found out about when photos surfaced online, and even a Mapillary shout-out at a local wedding, where the groom’s friends invited us to send a video message of good tidings.

Kinya-san, also known as tometome on Mapillary, has contributed some incredible imagery of his country. His work with the OpenStreetMap Foundation in Japan has helped promote map editing among the local communities, and he has also helped to organize important meetings involving Mapillary. Hiroshi-san, tm3594 on Mapillary, is also a leader in OSMF Japan. Outside of mapping directly, he has made valuable contributions to the Mapillary plugin for JOSM. Finally, Taichi-san, known as mapconcierge on Mapillary, is a professor who also serves in a leadership role for OSMF Japan, is director of OSGEO Japan, and chief mapping officer of Dronebird. All three were great to meet, and certainly represent Japan’s OSM and Mapillary communities with pride.

Kinya-san's imagery

In August of 2018, the local State of the Map Japan took place in Tokyo. Hiroshi-san gave a report on the Milan conference, while other presentations such as one from Tadahiro Watanabe covered how to edit OSM with Mapillary. Another presentation from Jun Meguro covered pedestrian mapping with Mapillary.

japan4 From Jun Meguro’s pedestrian mapping presentation, SotM Japan 2018

About 120 members of the Mapillary community in Japan share their knowledge in the Mapillary Study Group (勉強会). Browsing the group, recent activity includes imagery examples, Mapillary news with comments, hardware tips, and event information. One of these events was the Mapillary Meetup 2018 Tokyo, where enthusiasts gathered in March to show the work they had accomplished, demonstrate how to use the latest cameras, and examine the newest features of Mapillary.

japan5 Taichi Furuhashi at a Mapillary meetup in 2018

The next meetup took place in Fukushima, in mid-July—the themes were similar but of course there’s much more to talk about with all the mapping going on in summer weather.

japan6 Mapillary Meetup 2018 Fukushima — the same banner made it to Italy!

In October of 2018, Toshikazu Seto and Professor Yuichiro Nishimura hosted a workshop at Japan’s Geographic Information Systems Association meeting about Mapillary. They gave examples of Mapillary imagery, talked about how Mapillary can be used to contribute to OpenStreetMap, and highlighted the correct way to tag OSM with Mapillary as a source. They also went in-depth about how Mapillary’s computer vision processing works, and how to access data with the API. Finally, they covered the integrations and features that Mapillary has supported in 2018, including Adrien Pavier’s Pic4Review and Enrico Ferreguti’s go2mapillary plugin for QGIS.

japan7 Information about go2mapillary for QGIS from a workshop Japan’s Geographic Information Systems Association

In November, FOSS4G 2018 Japan was held in Tokyo. Many of the presentations centered around open source tools such as QGIS, and there was more discussion about Mapillary in QGIS and other GIS platforms.

japan8 Kinya presents about Mapillary and QGIS at FOSS4G Japan

To be sure, Mapillary is on the rise in Japan, especially with cooperation in the OpenStreetMap and OSGeo communities. Here at Mapillary, we want to offer a big thank you to all of our community members in Japan for their dedicated participation over the years, and say that we look forward to working with you in the years to come. I look forward until the next time we cross paths, and until then, happy mapping!

/Christopher Beddow, Solutions Engineer

Continue the conversation