I'm working on an app to visualize terrain data in virtual reality for a small mountainous region in Japan (centered around Hakuba). The freely available data I've found for this region (ASTER, SRTM for example) is limited to 30m in resolution. The purpose of my project is to be able to explore navigation routes through the mountains, so 30m data is very limited in that it's difficult to see creeks, small cliffs, etc. Even so, Google Earth (which I presume to be of around 30m resolution in this area though I don't know) is very useful.

I know that sub 5m resolution map data exists for some parts of the world, and I think that data at this resolution could be even more useful to me. I've done some digging and sent a few inquiries, but the GIS world is new to me and I'm not sure if I'm talking to the right people or asking the right questions. I'm willing to pay for the data, though as this is a personal project I wouldn't want to pay more than a few hundred dollars, and I have no idea what high res DEM data costs for such a small region.

Additionally, I'm not entirely sure if I want raster data or vector data. My purpose is to generate a textured 3d mesh based on the data, so I suppose either would work.

2 Answers 2


Japan's Geospatial Information Authority (GSI) provides free DEM of 5m/10m resolution.

Fundamental Geospatial Data (language: Japanese)

  1. You will need to register to download data.
  2. DEM is provided in JPGIS (GML) format. You may need to convert them to read in your app.

If your app can read GeoTIFF, widely used converter from JPGIS to GeoTIFF is available at Ecoris,Inc. (ms-windows app).

  • 1
    This is great! I managed to sign up and download the data I needed using only Google Translate. I'm actually parsing the data files myself, and the format is very easy to understand just by looking at it, so I have everything I need. Thanks for the help!
    – alvion
    Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 8:59
  • @alvion Fabulous! To be honest I was worried about its language and format. Thanks google. :)
    – Kazuhito
    Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 9:07
  • 2
    I made a python version of the tool to convert the GML files to geotiffs, so you can run it without windows: github.com/gpxz/jpgis-dem
    – bckygldstn
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 21:54
  • The interface at "Fundamental Geospatial Data" provides the download by small segments, which is very time-consuming. Any option, where/how to do bulk download of JPGIS 5m DEM data? Or as a single-file in COG?
    – jurajb
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 9:15
  • @jurajb You can zoom out and select/add multiple regions at a time.
    – maw269
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 19:31

For others interested in global elevation data (coarser resolution than above):

ASTER GDEM V2 provides global elevation at 30-meter resolution https://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gdem.asp

available for download through NASA Reverb: https://reverb.echo.nasa.gov/ or USGS: http://gdex.cr.usgs.gov/gdex/

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