Profound Tourism Online leverages VR and expert insight to enable a new value experience during the coronavirus pandemic.
TOKYO – Toppan Printing (Toppan), a global leader in communication, security, packaging, décor materials, and electronics solutions, and subsidiary Toppan Travel Service Corp. (Toppan Travel) have launched Profound Tourism Online, a service providing online tours of Japanese cultural heritage and insights into the country’s rich traditions and culture to businesses and organizations throughout the world.
Profound Tourism Online is an extension of the Profound Tourism service launched by Toppan in 2018 to provide experiences of the spiritual aspects of traditional Japanese culture. The service will combine virtual reality (VR) technology, online workshops, and real-time interaction with the likes of Buddhist priests and expert craftspeople. The use of online conferencing technologies allows users in multiple locations to take part and enjoy a new kind of travel experience.
The Japanese government has spearheaded efforts to turn Japan into a tourism-oriented nation by harnessing the appeal of the country cultivated over its long and rich history as well as improving the quality of information provision. This includes communicating Japan’s traditional culture to the world through a wide range of content. The prolonged effect of the coronavirus pandemic, however, has caused tourism to stagnate. Profound Tourism Online therefore functions as an innovative alternative to educational trips and can also be a platform for supporting employee training.
Online tours fuse a range of features and content. Live feeds from a VR studio with a large, three-section curved screen allow users to experience cutting-edge visual media with an unparalleled sense of immersion as they enjoy virtual tours of cultural heritage sites. Participants will also be able to engage in dialogue and gain valuable insights on such topics as overcoming adversity through real-time conversations with some of the people at the center of thousands of years of traditional Japanese culture, including master craftspeople and Buddhist priests from World Heritage-listed temples. In addition, workshops conducted by business trainers will facilitate group discussions and demonstrate how traditional Japanese culture can be linked to participants’ everyday lives.
The first two programs made available for online tours are a VR visit to Toshodaiji Temple in Nara and a virtual tour of a woodblock printing studio. The tour of Toshodaiji Temple uses VR to present the life of Ganjin, also known as Jianzhen, a Chinese Buddhist abbot who successfully travelled to Japan to teach Buddhism after five failed attempts to cross the sea. One of the temple's current priests explains the hardships Ganjin faced and the considerable influence that he has had on Japan. The second program takes participants to the Takahashi Kobo, an ukiyo-e studio in Tokyo that has been in operation for over 160 years, since the Edo period. Users learn about the techniques that have been passed down through the years, see parts of the studio not usually accessible by visitors, and hear one of the Takahashi family talk about the studio’s tradition and history. Future tours planned include digital viewing of famous screen paintings of Kyoto and online meditation from a Zen temple in Tokyo.
“Profound Tourism Online is a unique solution made possible by Toppan’s extensive expertise and track record of over 20 years of using VR technologies to preserve and present cultural heritage in high-definition digital formats,” said Norihiro Saito, general manager in Toppan’s Cultural Project Division. “This drives a new type of tourism that enables people to experience various locations and aspects of traditional culture even if they are unable to visit the sites themselves and also adds a great deal of value with the insight of real experts.”