A QUICK TOUR OF JAPAN FROM YOUR HOME
2020 was supposed to be the year heads turn towards Tokyo and Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics, now that that's put on hold as the world slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, where does that leave your Japan travel plans? While it may not be possible for you to physically travel to the Land of the Rising Sun in the near future, the next best thing is widely available on the internet. The ever-so-innovative Japanese have converted many of their popular sights and activities to virtual experiences.
Cover photo credit: Ray in Manila/CC
JNTO Virtual Tour
The 360-degree VR video created by the Japan National Tourism Organisation in 2018 takes you through some of Japan's most iconic sights, including Kyoto's Arashiyama bamboo forests, and Nara Park, where you get to mingle with the deer. In an interesting twist, you can also experience the joy of sushi-making, but from the point of view of a sushi being made! This is just a smidge of all the quirky fun moments in the video.
How to enjoy in VR: https://visitjapan-europe.jnto.go.jp/en/experience/vr/
If you've always wanted to see the mesmerisingly busy Shibuya Crossing, you can watch people crossing all directions at once via a live feed. It's not the real thing, but it's a good way of being reminded of the familiar city life we're all longing for right now.
Even the most hardcore Studio Ghibli fans might find it hard to find photos and footage within Ghibli Museum because of its no photo policy, but the museum has released a series of videos on its YouTube channel to take you on virtual tours. An opportunity once found only in visits to Kichijoji is now available to everyone with internet access thanks to technology!
Check out the rest of the videos here.
VR Sakura Viewing
Cherry blossom season came and went during the pandemic, but Japan's Weather News YouTube channel has made it possible for you to see them in full bloom all-year round. With 50 such videos in their playlist, there is more than enough cherry blossom content to last you until the world is ready for international travel again.
Jigokudani Monkey Park
You've probably seen the funny images or footage of snow monkeys taking a dip in hot springs. Jigokudani Monkey Park has set up a couple of cameras at different spots of the park to stream live footage of the monkeys' activities for a few hours per day. Pop in sometime and witness some hijinks of the mischievous red-faced primates.
Other Virtual Experiences
Nihondaira Zoo Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX0SK-yVja4
Virtual Self-guided tour of the Mochimune neighbourhood in the Shizuoka Prefecture with a view of Mount Fuji: https://excite.mochimune.jp/virtualtour/hironopark/
Live streams of Niseko Village: https://www.niseko-village.com/en/white/webcams.html