The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #143


A reader writes:

Perhaps its something like familiarity bias, but I’m always struck by how many images look like my own locale, Southern California.  This view with the large grey mountain in the background, the cars in the foreground, the palm trees in the mid-view, could be a suburb of Los Angeles.  But there is a pagoda-like roof to the left, and a Islamic looking tower in the mid-ground, and I’m going to go with Tehran, Iran.


I’ve never put in a guess on one of these before, but I just passed through Puebla, Mexico the other day and it has a volcano similar (indeed, identical, hopefully) to the one in the picture.


Olympia, Washington? I couldn’t find the exact house, but isn’t that Mt St Helens?  With no snow?


If not Naples itself it is one of the surrounding cities. The mountain in the background is Vesuvius, unless of course I am wrong. I spent a day at Pompei and saw it from many views. It wasn’t until later in the day that I realized the peak I’d been centering in my photos was only the far right side of what was left of the mountain. It was with that realization that the full magnitude of the event hit home as you could see there was a huge piece of the mountain that is missing.

Another is on the right track:

This has to be Japan.  There’s the characteristically roofed building in the lower left hand corner, the boring modern sameness of all of the building you see in the skyline, the cars all small, sleek and new.  I looked at a topographic map of Japan to see which cities would be surrounded by nearby visible mountains.  After guessing around a bit I found a photo of Fukuoka which seemed to match the flatter topped mountain in the background.


It’s 1:05 a.m. after a birthday party in Montreal, and I should know better than to take a crack at a VFYW contest on a hunch, but here goes. The clay tiled roofs and right-hand drive cars suggest Japan. The palm trees and exposed staircases suggest a southern climate. The urban density says a large city on a southern Japanese island, and that suggests Naha, Okinawa. And now I’m going for some poutine (cheese-curds, gravy and French-fries – renowned Canadian hangover cure!)


Here’s why I love this stupid, awful contest.

Since Saturday I’ve learned that the ugly institutional Soviet-style architecture I’ve hated my whole life is called Brutalism, I’ve learned that the Scion line is only sold in North America, that Grupo Bimbo has opened two two bakery facilities on the outskirts of China, and I’ve dusted off some pretty dormant geographic knowledge I once knew by heart and clearly took for granted.  I feel smarter for having searched.

Here’s why I hate this fun, stimulating contest.  None of the above mattered much in my search, and I’m still left without even being 100% certain of the right continent.  My answer may as well be Pangea.

This view is insanely frustrating.  It is a terribly ugly city.  There are no people in the view.  The city is almost entirely bereft of notable signage or advertising.  There are cars, but they are all backed into a deck.  The roof tiles suggest Asia, as do the few visible characters, but I eventually went crazy and at moments thought those were red herrings too.  I have image searched things as varied as Nigeria, East Timor, the suburbs of Beijing, and seemingly every stray corner of Oceania.  My wife was convinced one of those horrible buildings was a hospital based on the size of the rooftop access doors, and was Googling things like “asia hospital helipad”.

I’m saying Akita, Japan, or someplace near.  I have my reasons but they’re all terrible, and this guess is also I’m convinced.  I’m only sending this in because after my wife and I spent most of two evenings on it, I feel I owe it to myself to enter a guess, any guess.  I have a list of about 12 questions I need to have resolved about this view, and I’ve probably never anticipated an answer this much.

And somebody was there last week or was best man in a wedding on top of that stupid TV network building looking thing with hardly any windows.  Or some other bullshit.  I hate that person.


Fuji-san!! That was my first thought when I first saw the picture.  I have seen it from a speeding Shinkansen several times. I knew it was Japan – the cars in the parking spaces looked right – and the vague lettering on the signs too.  But the longer I looked the less and less it looked like Mt. Fuji, which is more conical and would certainly have snow on the summit this time of year.

I looked at other mountains … Mount Haruna?  No, too flat. Maybe Mount Ontake in Nagano?  I looked at a lot of mountains. Then I looked some more, and wondered if maybe it wasn’t Mount Fuji after all.  I can find some images that look a little like that.  So … I’m sticking with a view of Mt. Fuji, from the city of Fujinomiya.

Another sends a view of the right mountain:

Kagoshima City VFYW Volcano Bird's Eye3 Marked - Copy

Another identifies the right city:

This is the first time I have ever attempted a VFYW. To be honest I never really understood the appeal of internet searching as a form of fun. I always just want to find something, the searching part is actually kind of annoying. However, there were many clues in this view that led me to believe I could be victorious. The lettering on the buildings, the foliage and the FREAKING VOLCANO!

Because of the clues I’m sure someone has already beat me to the location as Kagoshima, Japan. The characters on the sides of the building are nice and friendly, indicating Japanese  The right side steering is another giveaway, that and the cars are all new and spotless. I first thought Okinawa Prefecture. Some of these islands are volcanic, but none of the mountains I could find were near city big enough to have multiple tall buildings. I was searching for photos of Okinawa and I stumbled on a blog in English about someone who lives on Okinawa and bam! There is that volcano! The particular post was about a trip to Kagoshima and from there it was easy to locate. The weird green roofed?(color blind) building in the foreground is pretty unique and is the Kagoshima City Museum. There is only one tall building behind it that is either a hotel or apartment building, I’m not sure. When I click on the building in Google maps its says “Kagoshima-ken, Kagoshima-shi, Shiroyamachō.” Whatever that means.

It was a thrill to find it, thanks bunches!


I think this is my fastest ever, less than ten minutes from seeing the contest photo to finding the building from which the photo was taken. I don’t have a story or anything to go along with the guess, but the photo was taken in Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, facing east towards Mt. Sakurajima:



I had a feeling that if I could figure out what the stylized kanji on the left said that it would lead me to the window and I was right! My other Japanese friend and I were able to correctly piece together than the kanji are


which leads immediately to the hotel Manshu in Kagoshima, Japan!


Kagoshima is the hometown of Heihachiro Togo, the great Japanese admiral who humiliated the Russian navy at Tsushima. Sakurajima sits due east of the city across a narrow stretch of Kagoshima Bay. Since the view is to the east, we are looking for a part of the city with streets running southwest-to-northeast. A quick aerial tour shows that the oldest part of the city – bombarded by the British in 1863 – fits the bill. The copper-roofed building is the Kagoshima City Museum of Art, and the green-surfaced parking deck in the VFYW’s foreground is plainly visible as part of a large apartment complex to the west. Its address is Shiroyamacho 3-35; Google translates the name of the building as “Surpass Shiroyama Park City.” I’ll say it’s a view from the top floor, about a quarter of the way along the northeast side of the third building up the hill.

Another sends an image of the building:


This one was really easy so I’m sure there will be a lot of correct responses given the amount of signage in Japanese.  The photo looks like it was taken from the Surpass City Shiroyama Park apartment building in the Shiroyama-cho district of Kagoshima Japan.  Probably from the 5th or 6th floor of the main building or one of the units right above the parking lot. I’ve attached a fun rendering of the building which overlooks the active volcano on Sakurajima.

Another adds:

These are “manshon” or condominiums, one of which seems to be for sale right now for about $226,000. Looks like a lovely spot, and the statue of Saigo Takamori (The “last” Samurai) right across the street adds interest. Somehow I wouldn’t want to test my luck that close to an active volcano, though.

Another sends a painting of the volcano:


Sakurajima in Morning Light, Kagoshima, Kyushu by Toshiro Maeda

Close to 250 readers correctly answered Kagoshima, and a dozen of those have correctly guessed difficult views in the past without yet winning, so determining a winner this week is extremely difficult, especially without knowing the exact floor or unit from which the photo was taken. One Kagoshima guesser goes for bribery:

If I win I will subscribe!

No pay-for-play on the Dish. So to break the tough tie this week, we found the reader among the aforementioned dozen who has entered the most contests overall. The image from that reader’s Kagoshima entry:


Congrats to that reader on the close win. From the photo’s submitter:

My daughter took this picture on February 3 at 2:30 PM. The view is the city of Kagoshima, Japan, looking across the bay to the active volcano Sakurajima, which is only about five miles away. The exact address is 701 Surpass City Shiroyamakouen, 3-35 Shiroyama-cho, Kagoshima. I have no idea what all that means, unfortunately,although the neighborhood is called Shiroyama-cho. People should notice the nearby mountain that is recognizable as a volcano, and the roof in the foreground looks very Asian so I think people may get to Japan quickly, but Kagoshima, onthe southern island of Kyushu, is pretty off the beaten track.

viewer (1)She is studying in Tokyo for her junior year abroad, and is doing an internship for a month between semesters as a distillery in Kagoshima. She likes to look at the VFYW and is always sending me photos asking if this would be a good one, and I finally think she got it right.

Love the contest and the Dish! Of course I’m a subscriber. Also sent you your contest view of Waterton Lake last summer, which thrilled me to see on the blog. Keep it going everyone!

He follows up:

Awesome to see my daughter’s picture of Mt Sakurajima from Kagoshima as this weeks puzzle entry! I thought I’d pass along a new picture she sent me (a view from your car window) of the mountain in a big ashy eruption the other day, taken from the streets of Kagoshima: