Travel agency JTB recreates Japan in VR


It’s difficult to travel during this pandemic. Travel agency JTB has therefore done everyone a favour by recreating Japan in virtual reality (VR) so that you can explore the nation from your bedroom. However, while the effort is commendable, the graphics of the end product will make you question if this is really something that was created in 2021.


JTB lets you explore Japan virtually


travel agency jtb japan vr - virtual street in tokyoImage adapted from: JTB公式 official

JTB Corporation is Japan’s largest travel agency. On 7th April 2021, it launched a Japan VR world –  officially called Virtual Japan Platform – created in collaboration with marketing company Fun Japan Communications and cloud service provider FIXER.

travel agency jtb japan vr - crab in hokkaidoImage adapted from: JTB公式 official

In this VR world, you can walk around the streets of Japan and visit iconic landmarks as an avatar. Other features include purchasing things in virtual shops and interacting with various open-world elements. 

travel agency jtb japan vr - loading lobbyImage adapted from: JTB公式 official

For now, only places in Tokyo and Hokkaido have been recreated on the platform, and sign-ups are still not open to the public. Nevertheless, you can catch a glimpse of what to expect through this promotional video released by JTB.

バーチャル・ジャパン・プラットフォーム【JTB公式 official】
play button
バーチャル・ジャパン・プラットフォーム【JTB公式 official】

Video credit: JTB公式 official

JTB aims to reach 10 million active users by 2024.


Baffling graphics fall short of expectations


This venture created an online buzz – unfortunately, it’s not for its admirable concept, but for its disappointing graphics.

travel agency jtb japan vr - tokyo station comparison Image adapted from: JTB公式 official and Andi Winata

The model for the Tokyo Station in the VR world is still commendable as it has a level of detail that does justice to the architectural beauty of the historical train station. 

travel agency jtb japan vr - hokkaido flowers comparisonImage adapted from: JTB公式 official and Shirota Yuri

However, you’d want to admire Hokkaido’s natural scenery in real life instead. The pixelated landscape on the virtual platform comes nowhere close to the real thing.

Avatars comparison(From left to right) Avatars in the VR world and Lara Croft in the 1996 Tomb Raider game.
Image adapted from: JTB公式 official and IMDb

It’s hard to believe that this virtual world is managed by Japan’s largest travel agency. It’s even harder to believe that this was created in 2021 when its graphics rival those of the 1996 Tomb Raider game, with the avatars bearing an uncanny resemblance to Lara Croft’s unrealistic model.

Many netizens also shared similar sentiments.

travel agency jtb japan vr - tweet april foolsImage adapted from: @dennoumogura

Twitter user @dennoumogura hoped that this virtual platform was an April Fools’ prank, remarking, “I wish this was released on April Fools.”

Tweet flight simulator
Image adapted from: @9Poovm0

Another Twitter user @9Poovm0 rated the graphics as “worse than the 2004 Microsoft Flight Simulator released 16 years ago”.

Youtube comment
Image adapted from: YouTube

Under the official promotional video, YouTube user バチバチ commented, “With such a quality, their bravery to leave the comments section open is commendable.”


Travel agency JTB recreates Japan in VR


JTB and its collaborating partners may have to go back to the drawing board and relook at the graphics of Virtual Japan Platform if they wish to appeal to more people. Meanwhile, you’re better off playing these video games which feature the streets of Japan with much better visuals.

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Cover image adapted from: JTB公式 official and Tomb Raider Universe

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