Exploring Hikone… From Space?

The spring semester has just ended, and we’re preparing to welcome a new cohort of students in May and again in June. If you’re one of those students (or you’re reading this from the future—hello!), you’re probably wondering just what your new home will look like. You can see pictures of the dorms and the academic building with our mascot, Hiraku, or by exploring our website. And of course, there are maps and photos all over the internet to help you imagine Hikone. But what if you could combine maps and pictures, and add some super-cool technology?

If you’re thinking that sounds like Google Maps, well, you’re not wrong. Google Maps is excellent for exploring before and during your time at JCMU. Depending on your phone, GPS may work even without cell service, so digital maps can be really helpful when you’re trying to find your way through Japan.

But there’s another program, called Google Earth, that provides higher quality photos and more options to explore. The program will eventually 3D map the whole globe with satellite images, so you can fully investigate the world from every angle. They started with large cities and the US, but have since branched out, and recently got around to Hikone. You can zoom way in and get a preview of every shrine, restaurant, tree, and rock in town!

So, do you want to get a head start at exploring Hikone? We’ve prepared a list of our favorite cool places to check out with this high-tech tool.

The 7-11 down the road

You will be going here, probably more than you expect, so it’s a good idea to get acquainted! It may look drab and grey on the outside, but these images seem to have been taken in winter. It’ll be nicer in person, plus it’s filled to the brim with tasty snacks. But for now, join us in wondering: What is that floating object to the right of the building? A UFO??

Hikone Station

Wow, look at all the trains! Do you think they’re there to prepare for something? Like, practice so they can be good at it? You know, train?

Sorry. But it’s still a cool image.

Hikone Castle

Of course, you have to find the castle. We promise that in real life, it doesn’t look an old N64 game. Or does it? This is the side that faces away from JCMU, so you’ll have to get up close to find out…

The bike road that everybody takes through the rice fields

That skinny stretch of grey is a small road that most people bike on to avoid the highway. In real life (and not in winter) it’s also a nice-looking place to cycle, with lizards and cicadas and a close view of growing rice. If you zoom in, you can even see the irrigation ditch you’ll want to avoid falling in to!

JCMU itself

Finally, the place that matters most: the building where you’ll be living and spending most of your time! Wait, what’s that? It’s the only part of the city that hasn’t been 3D mapped? It’s still a normal satellite image? Oh. We see how it is.

We hope you enjoyed this preview of your surroundings for the next few weeks or months. Give the tool a try yourself and do a little pre-exploration. Or wait and leave the whole thing as a surprise! But if you decide instead that you’d like to see some higher-quality photos, check out our previous blog posts or our Instagram. And don’t worry, the actual JCMU building isn’t really flat. Trust us…

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