Fake it ‘til you make it there.
The 2020 Olympics may have been postponed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still run rings around Japan – virtually at least. Go full stream ahead with 360° tours, a live feed of Nagano’s famous snow monkeys, and your own Japanese ‘on-nomi’ drinking party.
No passport required, just passion. (And Wi-Fi). #PauseTheAdventure
Do a full 360
From the late-night dance floors of Tokyo to the early-morning Buddhist prayers of Kyoto, take a 360° virtual tour around Japan with this 3-minute VR movie. If you don’t have VR glasses, no worries, just swap for a wine glass.
See snow monkeys
Watch wild snow monkeys (that’s just their band name, they’re actually Japanese macaques) via an online cam as they soak in Nagano’s famous hot springs. It’s a live feed, so log on during the day. At night, they’re off doing monkey business.
Visit Tokyo’s teamLab Museum
Since opening to Insta meltdown hype (and presumably an eye-watering electricity bill), the world’s first digital art museum is now up there with Mt. Fuji as a Japan must-see. These videos give a taste of the fully immersive and neon glory.
Curl up and read
The Only Gaijin in the Village by Scottish writer Iain Maloney, had us at the title if we’re totally honest. And then it completely transported us with its warm-hearted and humorous account of life in rural Japan as the only foreigner in the village.
Watch on Netflix
National treasure status and three Michelin stars is just how this sushi master rolls. Filmed in part from his 10-cover restaurant in a Tokyo subway, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the remarkable story of an 85-year old sushi chef, Jiro Ono. Currently available on Netflix.
Go to a cat café
Unsurprisingly, Japan has an endless list of iconic sites you can live stream: including the panda enclosure at Ueno Zoo, the ski slopes of Hokkaido, and Tokyo’s famous Shibuya Crossing. Or our personal favorite this cat café in Kyoto.
For cultures saké
From how to build the perfect bento box to a virtual tour of the world’s most famous fish market, Google Arts & Culture will take you on an Alice-Esque rabbit hole into the offbeat world of Japan’s food, art, and history.
Throw an on-nomi party
Drinking cheap lockdown wine on a video call to the rest of the world, this current trend for online drinking with friends has birthed a new word in Japan: on-Nomi, or オン飲み in Japanese. Get the saké and share your screen.
Learn to meditate
Feeling stressed? The head priest at the Taizo-in Zen Buddhist Temple in Kyoto is teaching Zen Buddhism meditation – known as Zazen – online. The first video, subtitled in English, teaches basic postures and breathing techniques.
Ride a rollercoaster
For killer views of Tokyo, take a virtual ride on the famous Dome City rollercoaster. The empty ghost town feels just adds to the general scariness of the whole experience. Stream if you wanna go… faster?
Stop and smell the roses
Okay, so they’re actually tulips, but every year between March and May Hitachi Seaside Park bursts into a sea of color. The park is currently closed, but you can enjoy the famous blooms with a 360° virtual tour.