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Virtual Travel Opportunities Around the Globe: Japan, Nashville and Chicago

by Angelique Platas

Apr 9, 2020

Photo: Dave Primov | Dreamstime.com

Destinations

Updated April 9, 2020

Japan National Tourism Organization

 

While would-be travelers around the world are self-isolating and putting travel plans on hold, Japan Nation Tourism Organization sends the fun home. While everyone’s wanderlust grows, JNTO offers virtual experiences showcasing the best of the island country.

 

With a new 360-degree virtual reality movie experience, Japan is on full display in the film Where Tradition Meets Future. The virtual experience transports visitors across the world to the stunning, most-desired regions of Japan, including breathtaking bamboo forests, sculptures of Naoshima, Geisha performances, sushi making, sumo wrestling and even a live feed of Tokyo’s world-famous Shibuya Crossing — perfect timing, with the Olympics officially postponed until 2021.

 

Virtual experiences also feature a step inside the beloved Neko (cat) Café in Kyoto, and the incredible Jigokudani park, located in Nagano and known for its local snow monkeys.

 

Speaking of animals, nature lovers will also enjoy live-streaming videos of Nihondaira Zoo, including guest appearances from local polar bear celebrities, Rossy and Vanilla — virtual visiting hours for this experience are 7 p.m.– 4 a.m. EST.

 

More virtual experiences in Hokkaido, where the adventurous snow bunnies of Niseko Village are on full display riding the slopes — this lets would-be travelers watch the freshly powdered trails from the comfort of their self-isolation.

 

Over in Hyogo Park in Toyooka City, wishful travelers can watch the resident Oriental white storks during hatching season — which lasts until April. Most recently hatched eggs can still be viewed from the visual experience as they grow into fledglings. Viewers can watch over Shizuoka Prefecture, explore Shizuoka and check out the port town of Mochimune.

 

The virtual tour also shares hanami with travelers, the ancient, beloved traditional celebration of admiring flower blossoms — easily done from afar.

 

With a number of 360-degree virtual reality videos available, guests can choose their own experiences from Ueno Park in Tokyo, to Miharu Falls in Fukushima and its waterfall cherry tree, to Hirosaki Park’s stunning views and local castle.

 

Hirosaki Park Cherry Blossom. Photo: Kaedeenari | Dreamstime.com

 

Choose Chicago

 

The Windy City of Chicago is well known for its iconic sights, sounds and soul. While the travel world is on pause, the city’s tourism board, Choose Chicago, invites travelers to experience the city with a virtual tour. Explore Chicago’s many attractions, museums and even cuisine, with at-home recipes from local chefs.

 

Bring Chicago home with you with these experiences:

 

Check out Chicago’s museums and attractions, including Adler PlanetariumThe Art Institute of ChicagoDuSable Museum of African American HistoryField Museum, Shedd AquariumPeggy Notebaert Nature MuseumChicago History MuseumNational Museum of Mexican Art, Oriental Institute Museum and IIT Institute of Design. 

 

See the city’s architectural wonders, including the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures in the world. Virtually visit UNESCO World Heritage sites Oak Park’s Unity TempleHyde Park’s Frederick C. Robie House and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio.

As far as museums are concerned, Chicago has more than its fair share. Virtually visit the Art Institute of Chicago, beginning with the museum’s essential workscheck out the digital collection and explore more ways to visit virtually.

 

For the literary nerds, check out The Newberry Library’s extensive collection of non-circulating rare books, maps, music, manuscripts and more. Check out the printed materials from a distance, housed in Chicago’s independent research library since 1887.

 

Animal lovers, don’t worry, there’s a virtual experience (or three) for you, too. Virtually explore Brookfield Zoo, home to more than 2,000 animals, closed to the public through April 30. Guests can virtually visit the 216-acre landscape from afar, via Facebook broadcasts.

 

Wolves at the Brookfield Zoo. Photo: Robert Philip | Dreamstime.com

 

Another Chicago staple, Lincoln Park Zoo is encouraging viewers to tune into FacebookTwitter and Instagram for keeper chats, virtual habitat tours, Q&As with doctors, animal videos and more.

 

With Shedd Aquarium’s Underwater Beauty live cam, guests can virtually observe marine life as usual, including jellies, eels and reef fishes in the aquarium’s most diverse special exhibit.

 

Get a Little Bit County with Virtual Music City Experiences in Nashville.

For those with postponed or canceled spring break plans in Nashville, you can still enjoy the flavors, sounds and sense of community of Nashville, Music City, from home.

 

Watch as Nashville Plays On with local experiences, or check in on new weekly events from online cooking classes and other virtual attractions.

 

In true Nashville fashion, music plays a major role in all virtual fun. One impromptu setup heeding the call, Gratitunes shares an epic playlist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s staff and streams directly to clinics, filled with those at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, including patients, with special musical contributions from the likes of Amy Grant, Sara Evans, Brad Paisley and Dustin Lynch, among many others. Each artist dedicated a special song on their respective social media channels in support and appreciation of all those combating COVID-19. Virtual visitors can add their own musical picks as a small way to contribute.

 

A constant support and advocate for the city, hometown hero and living legend Dolly Parton launched a weekly YouTube series, Goodnight with Dolly, when she reads a children’s book  from her Imagination Library project. According to Dolly, the 10-week series offers kids and parents “a welcome distraction during a time of unrest and also inspire a love of reading and books.”

 

The Grand Ole Opry live streams events each Saturday night, and award-winning documentaries are online for viewing — It All Begins With A Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter and For The Love of Music: The Story of Nashville.

 

Here are a bunch of ways users can virtually interact.

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