Tuesday, 4 April 2017

There's an app for that...

I get quite a few enquiries from readers of this blog about maps. Usually they're from people who want to walk the Nakasendo or Tokaido but can't find maps of the route in English. I read Japanese, so while I can sympathise, it's not a problem I've had do deal with personally. When I walked the Nakasendo, Tokaido and Koshu Kaido I used Japanese language maps produced by Gokaido Walk, and when I walked the Nikko Kaido I used a map I found on the internet and printed off. As for my upcoming Oshu Kaido walk, I've plotted the route on MapMyHike (as mentioned in my last post) and plan to access this on my iPhone while I'm waking. As well, I've printed the route out on paper for use if rain prevents me from using my phone (which wouldn't be a problem if I'd bought the new water-resistant iPhone 7).

The other day, while doing an internet search in response to yet another enquiry about walking maps, I came across a series of iPhone apps called "Go-Kaido wo Aruku" (Walk the Go-Kaido). There are five apps in the series covering the Tokaido, Nakasendo, Koshu Kaido, Nikko Kaido and Oshu Kaido. They're on sale at the App Store for $5.99 each. They're published by a company called Ground-Base Inc, whose main business appears to be music and video production. The "Go-Kaido wo Aruku" apps are the only apps they've produced.

Partly out of curiosity, I decided to download the Oshu Kaido app. The app uses Google maps, and on my iPhone and iPad most of the names of places and railways stations appear with English text as well as Japanese. The walkable route is marked in red, while those parts of the original route that are no longer walkable due to road realignments and so on are marked in green. The screen is very uncluttered, which I like. Basically it's just the map with three buttons at the bottom: one for turning GPS on and off (turning it off saves your phone battery); one for turning map markers on and off; and one for settings. The map markers are in four colours: red for posttowns; blue for famous sites; green for ichirizuka (distance markers); and orange for mitsuke (gates). In addition, the Tokaido and Nakasendo apps have markers for the locations of Hiroshige's prints. Clicking on these markers brings up a screen with more detailed information (in Japanese only).

The app works on iPhone and iPad. As a hiking app it's fairly basic. For example, it doesn't give elevations (none that I can find, anyway), which is not so important on the Niko Kaido or Oshu Kaido where there are no major passes, but very important on the Nakasendo and Tokaido. And there's no way of checking how far you've walked or how far to your destination (again, as far as I can find). Obviously, if you can't read Japanese, then all the information about the posttowns and so on is going to be wasted, but if all you're after is an app showing the route, then these apps could be of use.

You can find the apps at the App Store by searching for "Ground-Base Inc."


JuCasamonte said...

For my hikes usually the only app i use is the music player … ahahha…. I just somedays take the long road to home , my agm x1 (a great rugged phone), some music and enjoy the afternoon :) i didnt like the battery enough nad now there is a gold edition with 5000 battery :D ! i hope can get one soon :)

Walking fool said...

Cool. Personally I don't like to listen to music while walking, but each to their own.