The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #129


A reader writes:

The boxy architecture and the blue mesh-protected construction site remind me of northern Asia, though the house in the center looks more western.  Since the taxi looks kinda like a Russian taxi and the SUV and vans have markings kinda like Russian police vehicles, lets say Russia. The upper flag on the pole appears to have a green triangle on a white field, and the closest match I could find is that of Khabarovsk Krai in the Russian far east. So let's go with its capital: Khabarovsk.


This is a view of Sochi, Russia, from a Dish reader who is helping get the city ready for the Winter Olympics.  


Maybe this is in an older section of Hagatna, capital of Guam?  Guam has the same land area as the Alaskan island where I live, but is otherwise a mysterious place that seems to surface only during the 4-year cycles of summer Olympics and political conventions.


Hi – the geography teacher here again. This week’s guess is the result of input from members of both my class and my department. My initial reaction was that this was somewhere in the Balkans, but one of my students insisted that it resembled parts of Japan that she had seen, while a colleague said it reminded her of her recent trip to Seoul. I am going to go with somewhere in South Korea, for the following reasons: the architecture, specifically the roof tops, the mountains in the background, the vertical sign in the background that looks like it has a cross on top of it, and the cars. The gray vehicle in the foreground looks like a Chevy Beat, which is produced by GM South Korea. One of my students pointed out that it looks like one of the cars is not parked, but is driving – on the left side of the road; that would suggest Japan, but it seems to me that there are too many other indicators of South Korea. But not Seoul. I think somewhere closer to the Chiaksan National Park, so I am going with Wonju. Plus, maybe you posted a photo of South Korea in honor of Psy’s appearance on the American Music Awards on Saturday.

Another gets on the right track:

Oohhhh, I just know this is Japan.

From the scenery it's not the middle of Tokyo, but I can't narrow it down much further than that. (Couldn't there at least have been a convenience store logo?) I'll take a stab at Sapporo because it reminds me of my visit to lovely Hokkaido in 2010 and because that'll keep me away from any of the Tokyo-centric guesses. Thanks for the contest!

Japan it is. Another:

This view is obviously in Japan. The sterile brickwork on the building we are looking from is the first strong clue, followed by the poured concrete construction of some of the buildings in the center and to the right, the squat water tank on one of their roofs, the giant temporary screens around the houses under renovation or construction, and even the abundance of above-ground utility wires – to say nothing of the "traditional" looking roof on the building in the lower foreground, which is probably made of sheet metal. These are things that anyone in Japan sees many times a day.

And that's where things get tricky. Such details are so common that it could be almost anywhere in Japan. The mountains in the background narrow it down a little, but very little. There are some industrial-looking buildings in the distance to the left – if only I could make out what they were.

But since I have to take a stab at the city, I'm going to say Tokyo – specifically its western reaches. Many people associate the word "Tokyo" with gleaming skyscrapers near Tokyo Bay, but the borders of the metropolis extend far west into the moutains, with the buildings getting smaller and smaller (but remaining just as dense) until there is nowhere left to put them. This photo could be from one of the areas where the city finally runs out of flat space.

So that's my guess. Western Tokyo, Japan.


This photograph is,
Unmistakably Japan;
Could it be Ota?


A couple of things about this photo give it away as Japan to me, including the shape of the white railings next to the parking spaces (not to mention the car backed into the space – Japanese are very particular about proper parking), the style of the blue sheeting material around the building under construction on the left, and even the tiling of the apartment block from where the photo is taken.

Unfortunately, this photo provides few clues that might help narrow down a specific location. Japan has hundreds of small, nondescript regional cities and is mountainous nearly everywhere, so the hills don't help. Still, based on the cloudy weather and the empty streets I'm going to make the most educated guess I can and go with Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture in the northeastern Tohoku region. I lived there for a week while volunteering in nearby communities hit by the tsunami and the scenery on my walk every evening from the apartment to the public path was very similar to this. This is the first time I've felt I have a short at VFYW so I'm crossing my fingers that I'll at least be close!

Another gets closer:

I've worked in commercial real estate here in Japan for over a decade and I've traveled all over the country inspecting properties even in rural locations.  Depressingly, most Japanese cities look very similar.  So in trying to think of a rural location without recognizable landmarks that might turn up in the VFYW contest, I'm going with Fukushima, somewhere near the station looking East.

Closer still:

I lived in Japan for seven years. I am not 100% positive, but the VFYW picture looks an awful lot like Sendai.

Sendai was the most proximate guess among all the entries, so that reader is the winner this week. Update: Doh – Ichinoseki is actually a tad closer, so the third entry from the end is the winner. The exact location is revealed by the photo's owner:

Yokote is not exactly on the main tourist route.  The photo is from the Hotel Plaza Annex Yokote.  For the life of me I can't remember which room we were in – it might have been 625. On a trip around Töhoku we stopped off for one night in order to visit my husband's best friend from college (Tokyo University of Agriculture, popularly known as "Nodai"), who lives in that general area. Töhoku means literally the "north-east" and is the whole northern section of the Honshu, the main island.  Most people probably heard the term because the earthquake and tsunami affected the east coast part of the region.  But Yokote is inland, in Akita-ken, which is especially known for growing rice and making sake.