Three-story pagoda at Kojoji Temple
Photo: Japan HeritageThree-story pagoda at Kojoji Temple

Visit Japan’s best historical and heritage sites with these free VR videos

Japan Heritage offers video tours of ancient castles and temples, including Sounkyo Gorge and Aoki Castle

Kasey Furutani
Written by
Kasey Furutani

It’s unfortunate that international travel to Japan has been suspended, but on the bright side, it gives us plenty of time to plan our dream trips. If you’re a Japanese history buff, this is the perfect time to plan your route through the country.

Japan Heritage is a website providing information on cultural properties of extraordinary value in Japan. A collaboration between the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Japan National Tourism Organization, Japan Heritage has plenty of videos, itineraries and historical stories promoting Japanese history and culture – all in English. Even better, some of these videos are shot in virtual reality so you can see a 360-degree view. Here are some of our favourite VR videos. 

Sazaedo Temple is a 16-metre tall pagoda in the Fukushima countryside with a literal twist. The temple is made up of a double helix staircase, which allows visitors to travel up and down without bumping into one another. This spiritual and surreal place imitates the 33-temple pilgrimage experience where you travel forwards and never backwards. 

Known for autumn foliage but also deep in cultural and spiritual influence, Sounkyo Gorge in the Daisetsuzan National Park of Hokkaido is the land of the Kamikawa Ainu. Sounkyo Gorge means ‘river of many waterfalls’ and you’ll find cascading water across the mountains and gorge. 

This glorious mountainside castle, 226 metres high, shows off the Seto Inland Sea. Originally a training area for shugendo priests, Aoki Castle on Mt Shirataki also has a Kannon-do Hall for the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and over 500 arhat statues. 

Go on a virtual journey on the Japan Heritage website. Images and videos are also available for download on the Cultural Properties Digital Content Download Site. Please see the terms of use for more details.

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