As we all shelter in place during the global Coronavirus pandemic, the desire to travel and experience the world likely grows stronger than ever. I know I want to get out and see new things, taste new foods, and meet new people. But for all our sakes, we stay home and do the right thing. That doesn’t mean we have to completely ignore our wanderlust, though! Because today, in the age of the internet, we have so many ways to get a taste of travel from the comfort of our own rooms. So put your tray tables in the upright position, buckle up, and let’s go see Japan… Virtually!
With the proliferation of live security/webcams, it’s possible to get current streams of all kinds of famous spots in Japan, without the crowds, travel time, or viruses! Google has also been stepping up to the plate, offering online tours using its Streetview technology inside famous spots.
- Mt. Fuji
The website Fujisan Watcher has links to live webcams facing Mt. Fuji from all kinds of angles. See the symbol of Japan from all its lovely faces!
- Tokyo Tower
Good old Tokyo Tower isn’t as new, or as tall, as Tokyo Skytree, but it’s still a landmark, and Google Arts & Culture has a street-view like tour of it.
Tokyo Tower Tou
- Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo National Museum is one of the world’s largest art museums, and Japan’s oldest. Google has made a virtual museum tour available, and it’s a fantastic look inside this venerable institution.
Tokyo National Museum
Cities and Prefectures
In addition to professional tourist productions, some very kind souls have filmed and uploaded their entire trips to Japan for a more real taste of Japan travel. With these videos, you can get a big-picture view of traveling in Japan.
This YouTube video of a trip to Kyoto is, frankly, wonderful.From the Shinkansen platform sounds, to the winter views out the train windows, it’s almost as good as being there.
Japan Travel: Virtual Trip to Kyoto P. I. Kinkakuji Temple:
The Ehime prefecture tourism council has sponsored a whole YouTube channel featuring all the beauty of this less-urban area. The language is Japanese, but the pictures are universal. Go and dive deep in Ehime!
Deep Ehime youtube channel
Regional X Tokyo Tours
This is a series that compares less urban regions of Japan with the megalopolis using VR video techniques. Not only can you get a taste of quieter Japanese scenery, it also helps you understand just how different Tokyo is from the rest of the country. There are many videos in the series, but here is a selection I find interesting.
Chugoku + Shikoku x Tokyo
Kyushu x Tokyo
The Inside Story
Tourism is more than just visiting famous spots, it’s also about getting closer to the inner workings of a country and its culture. These virtual tours offer a closer look at things that are a bit off the usual sightseeing itineraries, but are still interesting and important parts of culture and life in Japan.
- The Kyoto Distillery <>This is a virtual tour of a gin distillery in Kyoto. While gin distillation doesn’t really scream “JAPAN! “it is a growing trend, and this offers an unusual glimpse at Japanese craftsmanship and innovation used in an unusual way.
- TKD Virtual Distillery Tour Shukkeien Garden
This Japanese garden is in Hiroshima, and it is an incredible example of traditional design. The city and prefecture have created a full panorama picture tour with labels and guidance for virtual tours, and it is beautiful.Shukkeien Virtual Tour
And this article simply wouldn’t be complete without this VR video put together by the Japan tourism board. It’s basically a concentration of everything people come to Japan to see. There’s sightseeing, there’s sushi, there’s kabuki… It’s Japan with a capital J.360°VR JAPAN – Where tradition meets the future | JNTO
I hope the above links help take the edge off your hunger to visit Japan, while not settling it down completely. Once the world returns to normal, you can use what you learn from the virtual tours above to plan your own real life tour!