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If your travel plans to Japan have been shelved or cancelled, you might already be wondering when you'll get a chance to visit such a vibrant country once more. We feel you! But the good news is that you don't have to completely give up on your Japan plans while you're stuck at home!
P.S. If you're disappointed about changing plans, don't worry! Click here for a thought-piece on why it's okay to feel upset and why you should still dream of your next great adventure. ?
Thanks to live streams, web cams and VR (virtual reality) there are now plenty of ways you can experience Japan directly from your couch! ? We've compiled a few streams and even an immersive VR hanami experience that will take you straight to Tokyo (and beyond)!
1. Shibuya Community News - Shibuya Scramble Crossing
The iconic Shibuya Scramble Crossing manages to remain busy even during times like this, and this live stream captures the daily busyness of one of Tokyo's most hectic neighbourhoods. Part of the fun of watching the crossing is waiting for the cars to stop so you can see the dozens of pedestrians beginning to move. Even through a webcam, there's something exciting about seeing one of the busiest crosswalks in the world at work!
#HHWT Tip: If you can't wait to visit Shibuya once things are better, head to the Shibuya Scramble Square for a stunning view of the crossing!
2. Tokyo Live Camera - Tokyo freeway and rail tracks
Tokyo is a busy city, and part of its charm is its endless energy throughout the day. Take a look at the city from a new angle with this live stream (with sound!) that features the freeway and several rail tracks. Some of the train services you might see include the Yamanote line, Yurikamome monorail, and Tokaido shinkansen. Being able to hear the sounds of the city is making us wish we were there too! ?
3. Rambalac - walks around Tokyo and more
If you're just looking for a slice of everyday life in Japan, Rambalac's Youtube channel should definitely be on your playlist! Rambalac is an expatriate living in Tokyo who frequently films walks around the city, as well as other locations around Japan. He doesn't speak in any of the videos - his channel is described as "not a vlog, no intrusive faces or talking, pure Japan only" - so watching the city through his eyes really makes you feel as if you're exploring the streets too. ?
His high-quality 4K videos include seasonal sights such as the Christmas light-up in Roppongi and Omotesando, and iconic attractions such as Fushimi Inari Taisha and Gion in Kyoto. He also has plenty of videos set in the countryside so this is a great way to check out new destinations to add to your bucket list! ?
4. Yamanakako Village - Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is another iconic sight near Tokyo, and being able to catch a glimpse of its beautiful snowy peak can be a challenge in itself. There are various web cams and live streams set up facing Mount Fuji, but this one by the village of Yamanakako lake has one of the best resolutions and views.
You can see the "Zekkei-chan" camera which is set up from the Hana no Miyako Kouen flower park, or the "Zeikkei-kun" camera which broadcasts from Yamanakako Communication Plaza Kirara. This stream is slow moving as it just focuses on the view of the mountain. But if you've got Mount Fuji on your bucket list or you just want a nice view to kickstart your morning, there's something peaceful about Mount Fuji that will leave you feeling refreshed. ? You might even be able to see a stunning shot like these ones in their gallery!
P.S. If Mount Fuji isn't on your bucket list yet, here are some reasons why it should be! Complete with useful tips on getting there from Tokyo and where to find halal food nearby. ?
5. Weather News - cherry blossoms at Hirosaki Castle (Aomori prefecture) and more
If you had to cancel your cherry blossom plans, don't worry because you can still see some beautiful blooms from the comfort of your home! ? Hirosaki Castle in Aomori prefecture is a favourite spot for seeing cherry blossoms in spring. This isn't a live stream, but the immersive 360-degree VR video will still let you get up close with the beautiful blooms. ? The channel also has similar 360-degree videos of cherry blossoms in Kyoto's Arashiyama neighbourhood and Tokyo's Chidorigafuchi moat - 2 other popular spots for a cherry blossom chase!
#HHWT Tip: Start planning for 2021 and beyond with this Muslim-friendly guide to Japan's cherry blossom season!
6. Jigokudani Monkey Park (Nagano prefecture)
Jigokudani Yaen-koen (also known as the Jigokudani Monkey Park) is famous for being a spot to see snow monkeys year round in their natural environment! ? Located in Nagano prefecture, the park is located at an altitude of 850 meters and during winter the temperature can fall to -10 degrees Celsius. The camera will move around periodically - usually if you wait for a few minutes you'll get a view of the monkeys moving around! After sunset the camera goes completely dark, so we recommend tuning in between 9AM - 4PM (park opening hours) for the best view of these adorable animals.
7. ARKSYSTEM - Ishigaki Island (Okinawa)
Not all live streams need to be exciting. Part of catching a live stream can be to see a side of Japan you never knew existed! Ishigaki island is one of the main islands in Okinawa, and this video's live feed of its scenery is a soothing sight to behold. New lives are streamed daily, so you can always go back to see how this particular patch of land has changed over the months. The camera will occasionally move around, but the video is pretty quiet and peaceful - great for background noise if you're doing work, or if you're taking a break!
While these can't beat the real deal of seeing cherry blossoms bloom in front of your eyes, or taking in the hustle and bustle of Shibuya, we hope that it'll keep you excited for all the beauty and vibrance that Japan has to offer. Maybe it'll even give you some inspiration for your next trip! ?