MapCarte 286/365: Kii – Kinki 360° panorama map by Masaki Oda, 2009


Japanese cartography is renowned for the quality and craftsmanship of their panoramas. The detail is exquisite and the scenes are so well framed with not only landscape but, often, a narrative of and contained within the vista itself. This beautiful example from the studio gTonbi-eye by Masadi Oda is in a full 360 degree perspective and depicts the landscape of the Kii peninsula near the centre of the Japanese islands.

As an area that receives large annual rainfall measures there is a lot of dense natural forest so the image is predominantly green though there are diverse landscapes revealed with plains, mountains and basins on view.


To the north is the city of Kyoto but the impressive design characteristic of this work is the combination of such a macro-level image but which also allows the reader to view the micro detail of different urban or rural regions. Creating a map that supports these tow very different scales and views is impressive. The maps are made by hand which makes their design all the richer since every stroke has been thought through and carefully applied. There’s no analytical work involved to apply equal treatments across similar data types which has the result of making each component just that bit different.


The mountainscapes are shown predominantly as aspect molehills but with a carefully applied hillshade to give added depth. The outlining of each mountain ridge in a darker colour wouldn’t be seen naturally but gives each mountain a presence and clarifies the image. At over 3 metres in length if you wrapped the map around you and stood in the centre you would genuinely see the landscape.

MapCarte286_kinki_detail3Finally, the author has added some realistic haze effects so that distant features seem subdued in comparison to the foreground. Our eyes are naturally accustomed to this in the real world and the map mimics it and makes the reader feel at ease. Even Mt Fuji makes a distant appearance in the distant haze.

Rich in detail, colour and thinking.