Visit Japan Online: Virtual tours, classes and experiences to join at home
Visit Tokyo virtually from anywhere in the world and meet local guides on virtual tours, or join classes, concerts and more.
Dreaming of coming to Tokyo but your vacation plans have been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Access Tokyo from anywhere in the world, meet locals, experience the sights and even learn new skills and hobbies with these virtual tours, live cams, online classes and more.
Japan virtual video tour
This amazing 360-degree video tour takes you to all the top spots and highlights you need to experience when you’re in Japan. You can use the toggle tool to look all around you as you walk through Kyoto’s Arashiyama bamboo forest, fight with a sumo wrestler, ride a jinrikisha (rickshaw), cross the Shibuya scramble crossing, join Pickachu in an arcade game and more.
Visit the ancient Todaiji Temple in Nara prefecture, the traditional rural village of Shirakawa-go, Makido Cave in Okayama prefecture, the Mori Art Museum and more of Japan’s best cultural spots and natural wonders with these 360-degree virtual tours.
With its strict no-photo policy, Ghibli fans can’t usually get a glimpse inside the Studio Ghibli Museum unless they book a ticket and head to Tokyo. However, the museum’s newly-released YouTube videos finally offer in-depth tours around the world of Hayao Mizaki and his beloved creations. See all the videos here.
Soak up some culture at Tokyo’s museums
So many of Tokyo’s museums have started online exhibitions or virtual tours, so you can enjoy a dive into history, art and culture without even paying for a ticket. Check out this post for a great list of places to virtually visit, including the Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Western Art, National Museum of Nature and Science, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and more.
For any anime fan, Akihabara in Tokyo is the spot to be for all things otaku culture. Join a local guide on this virtual tour that takes you around the neighbourhood and into some of its best shops packed with manga, cosplay and anime goods, as well as into some hidden gems selling retro games, merch and more. The local guide can give you plenty of inspiration and top tips for your Japan trip in the future.
$18 for 1.5 hour tour
Check out loads more virtual tours with local guides showing you around at magical-trip.com.
Live cams and views
Check out this live stream of Shibuya Scramble, the busiest pedestrian in the world and dream about the time when you’ll finally be walking across it for yourself.
Gaze across Tokyo Bay from the large, artificial island of Odaiba (where teamLab Borderless is located) and watch the lights of the Rainbow Bridge sparkle in the evening and the sun rise over the city in the mornings with this 24-hour, live webcam.
Head to the top of the world’s tallest tower and enjoy the 360-degree views across Japan’s vast, sprawling capital. This one is especially good for if you’re afraid of heights in reality!
Explore nine different views of Japan’s most beloved mountain at this website. There’s nine different spots to choose from, including the view of Mt. Fuji from across Lake Motosu, which is featured on the current ¥1,000 bill.
Discover Japanese fashion and music
Dive into Harajuku street style on Instagram
Harajuku is Tokyo’s centre of all things kawaii and pop culture, and there’s a whole host of Instagram accounts documenting the diverse street style spotted in the area. Some accounts to give you a sense of the area and its fashionistas are:
Watch live music concerts on Zaiko
Japan-based ticket website Zaiko recently launched a live-streaming section, allowing audiences around the world to join in on the Japanese live music scene. You can now watch all your favourite artists playing live in your living room. Whether you’re into J-pop, idol groups, J-rock or you’re up for discovering up-and-coming indie bands or Japanese music legends, there’s something for everyone on Zaiko.
Ticket prices vary depending on each live stream.
Take a virtual class
Sit down with a licensed sake sommelier and spend 1.5 hours discovering the secrets of sake. Learn what makes your favourite sake special, how to drink sake the right way and how to pair it with food like a pro. The class also includes a tutorial for a sake cocktail and you can ask the tutor questions ahead of your Japan trip or about Japanese culture and food. Bring your own sake to the tutorial and you can ask the tutors in advance for advice on where and what to buy.
$14 (+ 10% tax) per person
Learn how to speak the basics of Japanese and get your language skills brushed up for when you can finally travel to Japan. This 90 minutes class teaches you all the essentials and you can ask Tommy, the local guide, any questions you have about Japan.
$20 per person
This beginners course, developed by instructor Nohoh-san, teaches you the basic strokes for kaisho-style shodo (regular script, Japanese calligraphy). Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with kanji, the Chinese characters used in Japanese writing, as this course also introduces some basic kanji and how to write them.
(paid courses available if you want to take your new skills further and go into more in depth)
This website has a variety of tutorials to help you practise and create your own manga drawings. Join the weekend live stream online courses taught by professional Japanese manga artist Yukio Onishi, co-creator of "How to Draw Manga: Basics & Beyond," or check out the online videos or written tutorials.
Weekend live stream class $10
Online videos and tutorials are free
Plan for your future trip
Hopefully these virtual experiences have got you all giddy about coming to Japan, so while you’re still stuck at home, here’s some more articles to help you plan your adventure in the future!
Written by: Jessie Carbutt
Originally from the UK, Jess lives, works and writes in Japan. A lover of exploring and anything creative, she's always discovering new things in her Tokyo home.
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