Hokkaido Wilds wins two awards for PDF topomaps

Posted on Nov 30, 2019
Posted on Nov 30, 2019
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TOKYO, JAPAN | HokkaidoWilds.org won two national awards on Saturday for their English-labelled, A4-size PDF topographical outdoor maps. The popular Hokkaido outdoor website showcased their PDF topographical maps for backcountry skiing, hiking, and canoeing, at the Japan National Geo Activity Contest (Geoアクティビティコンテスト) in Tokyo, from the 28th till 30th of November, 2019. As part of the 2019 Geo-spacial EXPO, the Geo Activity Contest was a showcasing of 21 projects from around the country, all using Geospatial Information Authority of Japan official map data in some form. The event was held at the Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. HokkaidoWilds.org won the "People's Choice Award (来場者賞)" and "Digital Map Data Practical Use Award (電子国土賞)".

Last updated Dec 9, 2019


We marketed our entry to this contest as “maps to help keep inbound tourists safe in the Hokkaido mountains”. What’s ‘new’ about what we’re doing with the Japanese government map data?
  • Apart from Markus Hauser’s excellent and hopelessly beautiful Asahi-dake map, there’s no English-language high-quality topographical maps available in Hokkaido. Experienced outdoors-people need good maps – we provide those, for free.
  • We use open-source software (QGIS) to create easily printed A4-sized topographical maps with English place-name labels.
  • Users can print the maps at home, but they can also use the Avenza Maps smartphone app to see their location on the map, offline, in real time.
  • The front of the PDF maps have 1:25000 scale topographical maps, created with Japan government map data.
  • The rear of the maps have the route guide and photos that the Hokkaido Wilds team have produced.
  • The maps are foldable, and have a great color scheme – main title and accent colors by Dominika Gan, and vegetation colors are based on the USGS vegetation colorings (see Patterson & Kelso, 2004). 

Participation in the Geo Activity Contest was by invitation – we were selected from a number of entries from around the country to present what we’re doing with the Geospacial Information Authority of Japan‘s vector map data.

Congratulations also to the other winners in the contest, especially the grand prize winner – the Kyushu University’s flood awareness project.


Just being selected for this event – from a pool of applicants from around Japan – was a huge honor. While the grunt work of writing routes, taking photos, and actually creating the maps was (and continues to be) by the sweat and toil of the core Hokkaido Wilds authors, these little A4 printable maps wouldn’t have been half what they are without the inspiration and early development support of the following brilliant people.

  • MARKUS HAUSER | Twitter | Academia 
    Markus is a professional cartographer based in Zurich, Switzerland. He’s the co-author of the only professional English-language topographical hiking map for the northern Daisetsuzan Range area around Asahi-dake. The original idea for A4 printable maps of the Hokkaido Wilds hiking and ski touring routes was his. He contacted us soon after we launched with the idea, and worked with us to develop the design and concept. We’re super indebted to his professional and experienced input into the original concept.
  • DOMINIKA GAN | Behance | Instagram
    Domi is an award-winning graphic designer based in Poland. She came up with the folding concept for the maps, and has worked wonders with the color schemes for the maps. The final products would not be half what they are now without her great sense of color and space. Dominika is also the mastermind behind the Hokkaido Wilds visual branding – the logo, the website color scheme, overall website layout, and illustrations on the site. It has been amazing to work with such a talented designer throughout the Hokkaido Wilds project so far.
  • LOCAL GIS COMMUNITY | We also thank the very helpful folk in the Hokkaido FOSS4G community and QGIS users in Japan for their encouragement for us to apply and take part in this event. The response to our efforts have been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re excited to continue providing as high quality, useful information as possible to help people enjoy Hokkaido’s in an informed and responsible way.


As the only entry using the maps data to produce printable maps, we tried to keep our booth tied closely as possible to the gorgeous land and views that the maps represent. Printed in grand A0-size (1.2m by 1m), there were scenes from skiing Rishiri-zancanoeing the Kushiro River, hiking Shari-dake, skiing in the Daisetsuzan National Park, and packrafting near Niseko.

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About Filters

REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

DIFFICULTY: How strenuous a route is, and how technical it is. Full details here.

FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.

ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.

SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to HokkaidoWilds.org to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.

Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at rob@hokkaidowilds.org with your suggestions.

Hokkaido Wilds wins two awards for PDF topomaps Difficulty Rating





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GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.