By Kim B
Let the power of technology, like virtual museum tours or live video feeds, decide where to visit on your next holiday—or help you pass your time during a spot of social distancing as coronavirus worries continue.
Whether you’re already in Japan, scratching your head because of the closed attractions or still planning your next trip, these fantastic e-tours and live feeds will help you pass the time and maybe even add a few new places to your bucket list.
Show your support! Like many businesses affected by social distancing, a number of places around Japan are seeing fewer visitors than before —if you've already visited yourself, help others by leaving a review to guide others where to go on a future trip!
Find a place
Tokyo National Museum
Located in beautiful Ueno Park in Tokyo, you can see works of art and antiques from Japan and other Asian countries. Check out their online exhibit, “Maple Viewers”, which beautifully depicts the Kiyotaki River north of Kyoto in autumn and the people enjoying the foliage of the season.
You can also visit their virtual museum to see paintings, sculptures, and many other wonderful works of art and history with museum explanations for each one. Why not take a tour of the Tokyo National Museum from the comfort of your home or hotel room?
National Museum of Nature and Science
Nearby Tokyo National Museum, Ueno's National Museum of Nature and Science has also launched its own 3D/VR experience to allow viewers to discover inside the museum without actually stepping foot in Japan. Explore both the Japan pavilion and the Global pavilion in great detail thanks to high-resolution imagery and the ability to navigate around the museum freely. Find the full expeeirnce on the dedicated VR site from the comfort of your home.
Sapporo Maruyama Zoo
Take a walk on the wild side at the Sapporo Maruyama Zoo’s animal video page! You can see the snow monkeys, giraffes, beavers, hippos, wolves, and more. Even better, the videos are updated often and show you the living quarters of each animal as well as some very cute video shots. Kids and parents alike are sure to love this “day at the zoo”.
Tokyo Fuji Art Museum
On this virtual tour from Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, you get to experience the walk to the museum as well! Go on a walk from the station to the hallways of some of the world’s most enchanting artworks, some dating back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. You’ll find not only Japanese masterpieces here, but also Eastern and Western artworks from around the world. From fine art to blacksmithing pieces of antiquity, you’re in for a treat at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum.
The Kyoto Distillery
Looking for something a little more mature? How about a gin distillery online tour of Kyoto Distillery? On this virtual tour, you can explore the warehouse floor of a live distillery and see how the process works from start to finish. Even better, the tour contains interactive exhibits that explain the distilling process. Explore this pristine distillery and learn about the process behind their Ki No Bi dry gin—after you’re done, why not order a bottle and try a mixed drink recipe.
Tokyo Rail Tracks
For fans of trains and city life, be sure to check out this live feed of Tokyo’s railways. Available rain or shine, at all times of the day, watch the trains snake by from 4:30 am to 1:10 am. This station services ten different lines. The skyscrapers and roadways in the back are just as grand to watch, especially at sunset and night, when the bright landscape flickers with night lights of the city. The trains clacking on the rails also makes for a relaxing white noise and gives you a sense of Tokyo’s magnitude.
Missed out on your chance to hike the majestic and iconic peak of Japan? Well, don’t worry. With Fujisan Watcher’s live feed from multiple sources, you can see just about every side of Mount Fuji at any time of the day. Clear days and sunset are especially beautiful to see the snow-capped mountain. Who knows? It might even help you decide which side of Mount Fuji you like best and where to stay next time you’re in the area.
Chidorigafuchi Sakura Blossoms
Ah, springtime in Japan. It’s the season for cherry blossoms—but what if you can’t make it during the short window when the flowers are blooming? Why just check out this live YouTube feed from Chidorigafuchi Park and watch the delicate flowers from bud to full bloom. The park-and-moat scenery is relaxing and you’d never guess it was in the heart of Tokyo.
Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
Ever wanted to see those little red-faced snow monkeys as they relax in the hot spring waters of Jigokudani Yaen Park? Well, thanks to this live feed, you can! You might get lucky and get the little creatures when they’re in for a dip. The Japanese macaques have a higher chance of being in the hot springs on cold days but they can often still be seen playing around the area. They’re especially active at feeding time.
Fun with the kids
If you’re looking for a way to engage the little ones of your house, look no farther than Kids Web Japan. The whole family can learn about Japan and the people, culture, and history. Try to cook some recipes for an especially fun way to pass the time together. You’re sure to find a new favorite food for you and the whole family.
The romance of Tokyo Tower is something that draws hundreds to visit the tower every day. But with social distancing on the rise during COVID-19, you may find yourself far from your dreams of dizzying heights. With this Google Streetview-like tour of the inside, you can be whisked hundreds of meters into the air and "walk" around the interior of Tokyo Tower. See the Tokyo skyline for yourself!
Hopefully, by visiting some of these spots you can shake off winter blues or the stir craze from quarantine. It's a great thing to see so many entertainment and learning facilities come together to offer virtual tours and online feeds to would-be guests, especially during these difficult times.
Be sure to check out what's nearby for even more possible online and virtual tours. And who knows? Perhaps now that you've seen them online, you'll be inspired to visit in-person next time you have a chance!
Travel Editor for Japan Travel by day, novel-writing cat lady by night.