NEW YORK - While travelers worldwide are self-isolating, the Japan National Tourism Organization is encouraging people to satisfy their wanderlust remotely by providing virtual experiences showcasing the best of Japan.
The Japan National Tourism Organization made a 360-degree virtual reality movie experience featuring scenes throughout the country. Appropriately titled "where tradition meets future," the movie transports visitors to such spectacular, wanderlust-inducing locations and experiences as the sculptures of Naoshima, breathtaking bamboo forests, Geisha performances, sumo wrestling and sushi making.
Other experiences include a live feed of Tokyo's world-famous Shibuya Crossing, a popular Neko (cat) Cafe in Kyoto and Jigokudani, a park in Nagano known for its feisty snow monkeys. Animal lovers should check out the famous Nihondaira Zoo via live stream as well, where celebrity polar bears (named Rossy and Vanilla) reside (note the "visiting hours" are 7pm and 4am EST). In Hokkaido, the snow bunny paradise of Niseko Village has a live webcam, allowing people to experience the fresh powder-covered slopes from their couches. Currently, at Hyogo Park in Toyooka City, people can watch the Park's Oriental white storks during hatching season, which lasts until April. Recently, two eggs hatched and viewers can watch as the chicks grow into fledglings. For more sights of Shizuoka Prefecture, Explore Shizuoka has created a virtual experience for anyone to explore the port town of Mochimune.
And of course, no "visit" to Japan would be complete without hanami, the ancient and widely celebrated tradition of admiring flower blossoms - which can be done remotely, too. There are a number of 360-degree virtual reality videos available, featuring the cherry blossoms in full bloom in locations such as Ueno Park in Tokyo, Miharu Falls in Fukushima which features a waterfall cherry tree, and Hirosaki Park featuring a full view of the castle as well.