You Can Now Take a Virtual Tour of Japan

published May 23, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Tokyo skyline
Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock

No one knows exactly when traveling abroad will be possible, or practical, again. While short-haul trips could be a reality relatively soon, visiting far-flung bucket list destinations might take a bit longer. For many people, myself included, one bucket list destination that will have to wait is Japan. Fortunately, there are a few great virtual reality experiences that bring the Land of the Rising Sun a little bit closer to home.

While nothing can compare to the surreal experience of a night spent exploring Tokyo’s neon Shibuya commercial district or the magic of watching cherry blossoms fall like pink snow in Fukuoka, Japan’s national tourist board has created an amazing VR tour that brings the best of their country to you. 

All you need to experience this compressed Japanese adventure is your phone and a pair of Google Cardboard 3D Glasses. Through immersive 360 video, this tour brings you closer to some famous Japanese experiences. Called “where tradition meets the future,” the tour takes you on a whirlwind journey through iconic Japanese experiences with a few quirky twists.

At one point, you find yourself looking up from a sushi conveyor belt while at other moments you are inside a sega vending machine or watching a Geisha. My favorite part was seeing people feed tame deer special “deer cookies” on Miyajima Island—shot from the deer’s point of view.

There are also plenty of other great 360 tours of Japan that might allow you to dive a little deeper into your virtual Japanese holiday. You can check out cherry blossoms in full bloom at Ueno Park in Tokyo or take a self-guided tour of the Mochimune neighborhood in the Shizuoka Prefecture, where the Iconic Mount Fuji looms large in the distance. To learn some history, you could go on a virtual visit to the Japanese National Museum. And for something a little different, you can take a virtual reality onsen (traditional Japanese bath) experience. Just remember not to put your head underwater, if trying in the bath. 

So while visiting Japan in person might not be so easy right now, with a little imagination, and a stable WiFi connection, you can get pretty close.