I've now finished the preparations for my trip to Kyoto and Japan (special thanks to Cacophanus for shopping tips and Falk for hotel links). While working on the trip I started using Google Maps to get a better idea of where hotels and shops are located. Google Maps proved to be a phenomenal tool and I found myself using it more and more.
For me, the breakthrough came when I started typing the names of things in Japanese characters in Windows Notepad and then pasting it in the search bar over the map image of a Japanese city. Google Maps not only has the information for just about everything I searched for but the Japanese cities have images of individual buildings (unlike most American cities in Google Maps). Seeing the buildings made it easy to pinpoint every place I wanted to find. The real benefit of this is the cheaper hotels are often smaller buildings buried among other buildings in alleyways. Without good printed maps they would be aggravating to find.
I now have print outs that can lead me to the various Animate, Yellow Submarine, Mandarake, Shosen and Kinokuniya stores as well as other sites of interest. The map pages of my guide books will work well for finding historical sites but when it comes to hard core shopping I wouldn't want to go without Google Maps.
What's on your mind?
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