Travelers may not be able to attend this year’s Summer Olympics, but they will still be able to experience Japan virtually.
As the global pandemic advances, tourist attractions and enterprising tour guides are finding ways to mimic the look, feel and taste of a trip to the land of the rising sun.
Visits and shopping
For 2,000 Japanese yen ($ 18), wheelchair travelers can take a virtual trip to the Asakusa district with one-hour interactive tours led by travel agency Tokyo Localized.
The tour takes viewers through the narrow streets of Asakusa, one of the six remaining geisha districts in Tokyo. The region is also home to Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo; Asakusa Hanayashiki, the oldest amusement park in Japan; and Hoppy Street, famous for its yakitori skewers and its namesake, a beer-like drink.
The Sensoji Temple kaminarimon – or “thunder gate” – was first built around 1,000 years ago.
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The tours are led by Dai Miyamoto, the founder of the company, who said he buys and sends items to tourists online who reimburse him by credit card.
Viewers can request online tours of other locations through Japan Online Tour. The charge is $ 150 per hour, plus the cost of transportation from Kobe.
Companies such as Tokyo Localized and Japan Online Tour send Japanese goods to the homes of tourists online.
Courtesy of Nikhil Shah
Founder Kazue Kaneko said she had a client who loved Kyoto. She takes him on virtual tours there, where she buys Godzilla figures, matcha (a finely ground green tea) and other goods before shipping them to her client’s home in Los Angeles, he said. she declared.
“Now he’s my regular customer,” she told CNBC.
Enter the Shibuya intersection
Aside from Abbey Road in London, it is rare for a street crossing to be recognized internationally. Yet one of Tokyo’s most recognizable places, Shibuya Crossing, is joining the ranks.
Crowds pass through the Shibuya Junction in Tokyo, Japan.
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Considered “the busiest intersection in the world,” the crossing can accommodate approximately 3,000 people at each light interval. Explosions of organized chaos symbolize Japan’s attachment to the “four Ps” – patience, politeness, punctuality and precision – attributes that govern one of the most densely populated societies in the world.
For a 360-degree view of Shibuya Crossing, check out CNBC’s interactive feature, which includes interesting facts about the intersection.
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Virtual tours are rarely accompanied by souvenirs, but those who register for this online furoshiki workshop receive a personalized package from Japan before the course begins.
Wrapping precious objects in furoshiki, or decorative fabric squares, is an age-old Japanese tradition. Today, the practice is considered an environmentally friendly way to wrap small items without using paper or cling film, although they can also be used as small handbags and home decor.
Furoshiki fabric is commonly used to wrap gifts, but unlike wrapping paper, fabric is traditionally returned to the donor.
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This 1-hour live course taught in English teaches participants how to wrap gifts and make a furoshiki handbag. The cost is 10,000 Japanese yen ($ 91) for the class, two furoshiki rags, and a pair of rings.
Enter the Shinkansen
The speed and timeliness of the Shinkansen made Japanese high-speed trains so well known that riding one of them is considered a tourist attraction in itself.
Trains regularly reach speeds of 200 miles per hour and have a reputation for arriving and departing on time, down to the second.
A live camera of the train tracks in Settsu, a city in Osaka Prefecture, shows how fast the trains are moving. Once the sound of an approaching train is audible, viewers can see it for about eight seconds before it disappears in the distance.
Online travelers can also enter the Shinkansen. Google Maps allows viewers to explore the length of the train to see how cabins vary by class and comfort.
Museums and gardens
Viewers online can visit current and past exhibits at the Tottori Sand Dunes Sand Museum.
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Visitors can explore the virtual gateways of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, Japan.
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Covering over 3,100 square miles, Tokyo-Yokohama is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. This makes it difficult for tourists to visit Tokyo’s most famous neighborhoods on foot.
Fixed live cameras provide glimpses of neighborhoods such as Shinjuku and Ginza, but mobile live streams more closely mimic the traveler’s sightseeing experience.
In Japan alone, a YouTube channel operated by American John Daub broadcasts the Olympic Games live, taking viewers in real time to the Olympic Stadium and to the opening ceremony red carpet.
Another YouTube channel, Japan Walk, has several live cameramen roaming the streets of Japan, through major tourist destinations and back alleys, passing businessmen on bicycles and women in kimonos, scanning restaurants and window shopping along the way.
Poignant photographs from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum tell the story of the world’s first atomic bomb, dropped on the southern Japanese city on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.
A virtual tour of the museum, titled “Future Memory,” takes viewers through dark corridors that display burnt clothes, children’s toys and other items recovered from the explosion that killed around 140,000 people. Legends in English capture the testimonies of those who survived the blast and the life stories of those who did not.
A virtual tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum allows viewers to examine in 3D the objects recovered from the wreckage.
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One of the best online park tours in Japan is to Hiroshima Shukkeien Garden. A location map offers a bird’s eye view of the area, allowing viewers to virtually dive for a 360-degree view of the garden tea rooms, manicured lawns, and cherry blossom trees.
Virtual tea classes
Japanese tea ceremonies are getting high-tech as instructors turn to the internet to explain the country’s tea-drinking traditions.
Virtual classes teach viewers how to make and drink Japanese matcha at home.
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Japanese cultural experience company Maikoya is running a 45-minute class via Zoom, where for 4,900 Japanese yen ($ 44), viewers can learn the traditional way of drinking from a bowl of tea with a teacher in a kimono live at Kyoto.
For 10,000 yen ($ 90), Camellia Tea Ceremony, a tea company with two teahouses in Kyoto, sends matcha, a teaspoon, a whisk and seasonal treats to participants’ homes before the start of the event. interactive tea ceremony.