Mental maps

One travel video blogger documented himself travelling from Tokyo to Sapporo then on to Cape Sōya, the northernmost point of Japan. I knew that Sapporo is opposite Vladivostok, Russia, which I have always used as an example of somewhere impossibly remote. But the two of them lie at 43 degrees north, closer to the equator than to the north pole. And that’s the same latitude as southern France and Toronto, Canada. Even Cape Sōya, at 45 degrees, lies at the same latitude as Milan and Montreal (and is slightly closer to the equator, due to the earth’s equatorial bulge). In Seoul, there is a direction and distance pointer showing that Vladivostok is only 740 km away. You could easily drive there in a day if you didn’t have to cross two of the most heavily fortified borders in the world along the way.

One website listing cities by latitude shows that Kathmandu, Nepal and Brisbane, Australia lie at equivalent latitudes, 27 degrees north and south respectively (Brisbane is a few tenths of a degree closer to the equator). But Kathmandu is inland, 1400 metres above sea level and 160 km from the Himalayas, and Brisbane is on the coast between the Australian desert and the Pacific Ocean. 


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