Our travel plans are up in the air right now due to the pandemic and no one can tell for sure when it’s safe for leisure travel. But with all the preparation you’ve made and built-up excitement, you might as well push through with your plans to travel to Japan virtually.
Sounds good, but how?
Here’s a list of virtual tours of Japan that you can visit without spending a dime and leaving your home.
Virtual Tours of Japan’s Top Destinations
1. Tokyo National Museum
An online exhibition of some of Japan’s vast collection of antiquities and works of art plus its neighboring Asian countries is a good way to start your virtual trip. Explore the online collection of Tokyo National Museum, the oldest museum in Japan, to see over 100 artifacts including textiles, sculptures, ceramics and more.
2. Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower lords over other steel-supported structures in the world and owned the Tokyo skyline for years. With the lockdown pressed on, you can walk around the tower virtually and have a bird’s eye view of Tokyo minus throngs of tourists drawn to this colossal structure. If you have a fear of heights but still want to experience Tokyo Tower, this virtual tour is perfect for you!
3. Sakura Blossoms
Seeing parks in Japan covered in cherry blossoms is a sight to behold. You can witness beautiful buds blossom into beautiful Sakura flowers during springtime around March to May. As Spring comes to a close, you might think that it’s impossible to see cherry blossoms in full bloom.
But guess what?
You can see still thick clusters of cherry blossoms in Osaka Castle Park, Ueno Park in Tokyo and Hinokiuchi River in Akita Prefecture through these 50 Sakura blossoms VR videos. Check out these videos now and enjoy the Google Earth virtual experience to get close to nature without leaving your home and experience the calming effect of Sakura’s natural beauty.
4. Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
Japanese macaques surely love their onsen and you can witness their fondness of it when they take a dip on the hot spring usually during the cold months in Jigokudani Monkey Park. Winter may be long gone in Japan but these red-faced snow monkeys are still very active and frequenting the are during feeding time.
We were actually close to seeing these monkeys up close but we were pressed with time and we just have to pass up. So, we’ll have to watch this live footage of snow monkeys play around and eat in the park just like the rest of everyone.
5. Sunrise at Mt. Fuji
Climbing Mt. Fuji is one feat you wouldn’t pass up on if you want to see one of the most beautiful sunrises. It’s about 3.776 meters high and requires all the endurance you can muster since the ascent is challenging.
But with the lockdown in place, everyone can still see the sunrise and sweeping views on top of Mt. Fuji through this Google Streetview of Mt. Fuji. What are you waiting for? Start your virtual climb now!
6. The Kyoto Distillery
Anyone in the mood for a shot of gin? Kampai!
Walk around the hallways of Kyoto Distillery, learn the process of making gin and maybe find the secret behind their Ki No Bi dry gin via this virtual tour of Kyoto Distillery. If you want a fancier online tour, you can install Matterport VR via the App Store or Google Play for an enjoyable 3D experience of the distillery.
7. Himeji Castle
Ever dreamed of walking around a castle rich in dramatic histories? Well, now is your chance to explore Himeji Castle and admire its pristine white exterior and impressive Japanese castle architecture. Visit Himeji Castle and walk around the gardens through this virtual tour.
8. Sapporo Maruyama Zoo
Visiting Sapporo Maruyama Zoo will surely bring out your love for animals. Watch red pandas, bears, snow monkeys, giraffes, elephants, penguins, and more do their daily routine in their spacious living quarters. There are also videos of animals doing cute antics that your kids would love.
9. Shibuya Crossing
Crossing Shibuya, the busiest crossroad in the world is an experience in itself. You can see massive television screens, throngs of tourists and locals crossing in all directions in this iconic intersection in Tokyo.
Walk across Shibuya Crossing virtually and squeeze yourself in be a part of around 2,500 people that cross the intersection every day.
10. Golden Pavillion (Kinkakuji Temple)
The Golden Pavillion or Kinkakuji Temple is one of the most recognizable temples in Kyoto. It’s impossible to miss with its top two floors covered in gold leaf. Another thing that makes the pavilion unique is the illusion that it’s floating over the mirror pond.
A virtual tour of Golden Pavillion will take you around the complex where you can find a Zen garden and small shrines. Anyone who loves talking quiet walks and peaceful gardens will certainly love this.
11. Japanese Onsen
A dip in a Japanese onsen after a whole day of skiing or touring the city is a soothing reward everyone deserves. However, there are etiquettes that need to be followed if you want to experience Japan’s natural hot springs or indoor onsens. Some might be uneasy following these etiquettes but experiencing this once is totally worth.
Japan is overflowing with onsens and some of them are offering virtual tours such as Arima Hot-spring Baths VR Tour, Ashitsuke Hot Spring and Kita Onsen Oyogiyu. If you’re lucky you can also see capybaras bathing in Izu Shaboten Park.
12. Kawachi Wisteria Garden
Kawachi Wisteria Garden is a private garden home to thick drapes of wisteria flowers. But they open the garden to the public during Autumn in Japan around late April or early May once the flowers are in full bloom.
Visitors flock the two 100-meter long tunnels with drooping wisteria in different shades of purple. A more popular feature of the garden is the top of the hillside garden where you can see a breathtaking view of thick clusters of wisteria flowers.
There’s no doubt that this garden is instagrammable but your photo would have to wait because of the lockdown but the good news is you can visit Kawachi Wisteria Garden virtually.
13. Saga Balloon Festival
The Saga Balloon Festival is an annual international hot air balloon competition held in Asia around the last week of October until the first week of November for five days. Witness a wide spread of colorful hot air balloons flying all over Saga. The next festival will happen in a few months’ time but there’s no need to wait for that thanks to this Google street view of the festival.
14. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
If you like being close to nature, you’ll surely enjoy walking along Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. It’s a crowd-favorite and one of the most photographed attractions in Kyoto. But what draws in the crowd is the experience of walking in between long lines of tall and swaying bamboos.
Explore the bamboo forest digitally and as you go further you can see a monkey forest and temple.
15. Hitachi Seaside Park
Hitachi Seaside Park is a wide expanse of lush greenery and seasonal flowers. It is home to blue nemophila, the park’s iconic flower and covers Miharashi Hill during spring. When autumn comes, green kokia bushes replace the flowers that turn red as the weather becomes cooler.
Seasonal flowers are the highlight of this park, which you can see through the 360-degree views of the flower fields. But there are also other fun things you can do around the 200-hectares park such as visit the amusement park, have BBQ or bike around.
16. Shiroyama Park
Shiroyama Park is best known for its viewing deck that takes you 107 meters high. Enjoy the amazing views of Sakura-Jima, an active volcano and Kagoshima skyline through this virtual tour.
17. Huis Ten Bosch
Huis Ten Bosch makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a European town. This theme park is complete with iconic windmills, canals, beautiful architecture and tulips in a wide array of colors.
Check out the digital tour of Huis Ten Bosch to see a different side of Japan.
18. Fuji from Chureito Pagoda
Japan never disappoints when it comes to spectacular views. This time around you’ll see not one but two of Japan’s top attractions in one frame, Mt. Fuji and Chureito Pagoda. The view is more spectacular during Spring and Autumn as you enjoy the breathtaking scenery with a sea of Sakura flowers and red foliage around.
Admire the stunning view of Mt. Fuji and Chureito Pagoda through this online tour.
19. Adachi Museum of Art
Achieve zen in an instant when you see the Japanese garden in the Adachi Museum of Art. Visit this page and you be the judge of this beautiful garden.
Aside from its award-winning garden, Adachi Museum is also home to around 1,300 20th century artworks, ceramics and paintings. If working from home or the uncertainty of the pandemic is starting to stress you out, visiting this zen garden might help.
20. Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine is the most important shrine among others that are dedicated to Inari, the deity of rice. It is also famous for its thousands of torii gates that seem to be endless. But there’s more to see. If you have an observant eye, you’ll notice foxes scattered all over the shrine grounds that are said to be Inari’s messengers.
You can climb Mount Inari for 30-45 minutes and stop at Yotsutsuji intersection where you can see scenic views of Kyoto. This can get crowded with tourists and if you want to avoid that, this virtual tour of Fushimi Inari Shrine is a perfect way to see the famous torii gates.
It might take a while before we can go out of our homes and travel so we hope our list of virtual tours of Japan served is the purpose of keeping your wanderlust at bay and giving you a glimpse of what’s in store for you when you visit Japan.
Did you enjoy the virtual tours of Japan? We’d love to hear your experience, please share them below.
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