Missing Japan? With the current ongoing situation in mind, it might be taking a while before we will be able to visit the Land of Cherry Blossoms (again). But there is a solution, although it might become a source to strengthen the feeling of wanting to go to Japan.
The existence of the Internet has broadened our view of the world, making it possible to travel the world digitally from the comfort of your own home. It is a wonderful thing to do, because it makes us better informed about the countries that we eventually want to visit. And with the growth of technology, it is at this moment even more interesting to surf around the Internet and pretends that we are really travelling around the world. A couple of virtual tours of different locations in Japan will be listed below. Get something to drink, a snack, sit down on a comfortable chair or bank, relax and let’s go on a virtual exploration of Japan. And the good thing is that these options are free! Have you checked out the first part of this virtual travel series?
Walk around Tokyo station
For those who have visited Tokyo at least once, will be familiar with this station in Chiyoda’s Marunouchi business district. It is the location where many Shinkansen trains start and end. It is also a very important station for the connections to other cities and is one of the biggest stations in Tokyo. Many people say that the exterior design of this station is based on Amsterdam Central Station, although there is not much evidence to support that claim. For this virtual tour, you can get lost around the station virtually via Google Maps. If you want to get into one of the trains, it is possible. There is an option to hop on the JR EAST Tokyo Shinkansen and see the inside of it. If you like to see more of the outside of Tokyo Station, then you should definitely watch the night walk video of Virtual Japan, where you will see more of the station and the surrounding area of it at night time.
If you are more of a fan of trains and want to see more of that, that is also a possibility. While enjoying the view of Shuto Expressway and several buildings, it also offers you a bird’s eye view of Tokyo’s rail lines including Yurikamome (monorail), Tokaido Shinkansen, Yamanote Line and a couple of other rail lines. From 04.30 AM Japanese time until shortly after 1.00AM the next day, you are able to see trains passing by. this webcam is hosted by Tokyo Live Camera and provides a constant live feed.
Explore Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari is a very famous and important Shinto shrine in Kyoto and it is especially well-known because of the many torii gates. If you haven’t visited it yet in real life and want to get the feeling of how it is, there are some possibilities to get some virtual experience. This time you don’t have to wear comfy shoes for this trip. One of the options is watching a 4K ASMR-like virtual walking tour video by Rec Lab., who makes more of these kinds of videos. The video does give you an idea as if you are walking yourself on a lovely sunny day. This virtual walking tour will take 2 hours and will give you an idea of what to expect. Headphones are recommended to give yourself the chance to focus on the sounds that you will be surrounded with.
If you want to do the ‘walking’ yourself, you might want to download a free virtual walk simulator on Steam, titled Explore Fushimi Inari. This simulator is developed by Max Newell who made this detailed game with photos and memories of a few years ago. He worked hard to realistically recreate Fushimi Inari Taisha and the result is a 3D almost photo-realistic recreation of the torii gates path. It included the option of listening to relaxing music that is really fitting. The desktop version is free (or you can decide to name a price), but there is also downloadable content which is not free and more focused on VR exploration which might be even a better idea if you really want to get that immersive feeling. There are options to take photos with an SLR-camera, find hidden areas and take different routes. Another option is to take this route with some clicking on Google Maps.
Explore Meiji Jingu
2020 has been the year that Meiji Shrine is celebrating its centennial, which is already very special. Open since the spring of 2020, the Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art is an exhibition where art and culture get celebrated in the sacred forest surrounding the Meiji Shrine. The theme of 2020 is Celebrate, Pray, Create and the exhibition will end at the end of March 2021. The main program of Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art consists of three art exhibitions.
The organisation created stories for Google Arts & Culture where you can get informed about the shrine Meiji Jingu that is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. In combination with text, photos and Street View, you will see different parts of the forests, the shrine, and several artists who have placed their art in the forest during the three art exhibitions. It is a great combination for those interested in nature, spiritualism, Japanese art and culture. These stories can be best viewed in the free Google Arts & Culture app, but can also be easily visited through an internet browser. It is also possible to take the 360° Virtual Reality route, to walk around Meiji Jingu. There are several options for that, such as Walking Japan and Virtual Japanh ut also without VR, there are enough options for a silent walk to Meiji Jingu.
Makidou Cave (満奇洞) can be found in Niimi, a city located in northwestern Okayama Prefecture. To be precise, the cave is located in the Prefectural Nature Park. The cave is calcareous with a length of approximately 450 metres. Furthermore, Makidou Cave has an underground lake that is named Dream Palace and has a wide variety of stalactites. Dubbed by some as a mysterious cave, the limestone grot is a perfect cool and dark location for a visit in the hot summer period and not a bad spot either in the wintertime.
Before being able to visit it in person, we are able to visit it with a specially designed VR tour to walk around the location from the entrance to the exit. Normally a walk will take you 30 minutes, but now you are able to take your time while enjoying the LED lights and sounds of the cave. A fun addition to this all is that you can even change the LED colour on certain spots in the Makidou Cave. In addition, you will more information about where you are. This special and super informative tour is made for the total Virtual Reality experience in various languages (including English), but can also be visited with your internet browser while you can click around with your mouse. Don’t forget to put on your headphones.
If you haven’t seen the first part of this virtual travel article series, click here. In the coming weeks, there will be more parts of this virtual Japan series. Let us know what you think of these tips.