July 25, 2008

I can see it on a map!

News and revelations! I have news and revelations! Well, I have a map...

Being a fairly visual person I was beginning to worry about the challenge of orienting myself with a map in kanji. I have been studying the Google map of Okaya-shi, Nagano-ken where we will be living next year and unfortunately I have often ended my studies less clear than when I started. There is something about kanji that makes befuddlement a reality when one only understands roman characters.

The part of this map study that was unbelievably frustrating (beyond my complete lack of understanding of the Japanese language) was the fact that Google does not offer a simple page translation function for its maps function like it does for a standard search. Actually, if you've never looked up a website in a foreign language through Google I encourage you to, the [translate this] function makes being a mono-linguist much easier. I trawled through countless forums for ways to circumnavigate the seemingly unnatural lack of a translation tool on the maps function. Earlier today I even drafted and sent an email to the Google developers encouraging them to solve this dilemma (secretly hoping they would manage that feat in the next four business days).

I did make a modest breakthrough earlier in the week when I ran across an English-language information site on Okaya. The site had a surprisingly large amount of information including labels of both of our main schools, however I was no clearer to understanding scale of our modest village or new our neighborhood location. I had resigned myself to sort of understanding where I am going to live and trying not to worry so much. Until this evening...

Thanks to a bit of gentle prodding from friends during dinner, my search had once again begun. After sharing my frustrations, one of my girlfriends looked at me and said, "Oh come on, how hard can it be. I know I could make it work!" The gauntlet was officially thrown down. I took her self-confidence as a personal challenge to find it myself. Really, this comes as no surprise to you folks who remember toddler Teresa stating quite firmly "do by self" as my first mantra.

The great news is that this new found motivation to prove my own Internet search abilities has borne first fruits and I am very excited to share. There is a wonderful website diddlefinger that is wholly dedicated to translating Japanese addresses and locations into English. The site uses Google Maps as its platform, and while is not quite as user friendly as I currently need, it was effective. After about thirty minutes of fiddling with the information in kanji, katakana and romanji it produced crude preliminary results that I am ready to share.

So without further ado here is a map that pinpoints our home and two schools. All three places are contained within an area no more than 1.5 miles square. Bikes and feets will very enjoyable and relaxing modes of commuting. It is also worth noting that we will be crossing a major commuter rail line on our route (makes me nervous...). Lest yea be worried that we are leaving America behind, you can see clearly marked such great American conveniences as the 7-11 and Circle K. Apparently there is a Denny's in spitting distance to our front door, which is of course the closest I will ever live to a Denny's in my life. Oh the irony.

Oh your patience if you have read to here, I apologize for the long post, but I'm excited and it's late, so tough. For those of you that made it to the bottom, I will share that the picture at the top of the page is looking North towards the center of Okaya from the Eastern edge of Lake Suwa.


MG said...

1. That website has a dirty name.
2. Thanks for the address, etc. I am officially now coming to stalk you.
3. I am totally adding -shi and -ken to everything I say from now on-shi.

Anonymous said...

(This is Daniel, hijacking Katya's account ;-) Glad to see you and Phil made it in one piece, is the lake warm enough to swim in? and Katya wants to know if you've had real sushi yet?

Daniel & Katya


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