Every 2 or 3 months in this space, I write a piece introducing a community in Greater Tokyo and encourage readers to take a trip to check it out themselves. Perhaps the most challenging thing about the novel coronavirus pandemic is my missing these attractions. Since none of us can go at this time, I will introduce attractions that will allow you to drop in virtually instead.
Luckily, before the current situation began, the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage placed high definition images of national treasures and important cultural properties owned by four museums (Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum, Nara National Museum, and Kyushu National Museum) online. Most items in their collection offer high definition pictures along with their descriptions in multiple languages (Japanese, English, French, Chinese, and Korean). I visited all four museums in person years ago, and through this site, I’m reacquainting myself with them, and Japanese history.
Remember how Japan has a cute mascot for everything? I’ve been getting a kick out of watching Torarin, the mascot of Kyoto National Museum, give tours and generally be a cute sumi-e drawn tiger all over the place.
Tokyo’s iconic red-and-white Eiffel Tower doppelganger recently got the Google Maps StreetView treatment, so now you can check out the observation tower above and the museum below.
Of course, after a day of touring the sights, you and your group would likely stop and grab a bite to eat… but that’s a bit of a tall order right now. While many restaurants, ramen shops, and izakaya pubs are still doing business, foot traffic is way down, hours are shortened, and seating is spaced out (#socialdistancing). Chances are you’re doing a ton of cooking at home in your cramped and slightly unfamiliar kitchen. We all have recipes for the food we know and love from our home countries, but when you’re limited to the Sanwa or Life supermarket down the road, you’d better learn how to cook like the locals. With that in mind, here’s a list of YouTubers that can help bring that furusato no aji (taste from home) into your kitchen
Perhaps the most missed facet of living in Japan during these challenging times for me is missing out on a soak in one of the various hot springs and public baths around. However, many of them are reaching out over the internet to make sure you can at least take in the experience virtually. Some of the more enterprising ones are also able to send you a bit of their mineral and herbal essences added to the waters for your bath at home; simply pull up their visuals on a waterproof tablet and get your relaxation on.
Remember, this is just a small blip in time in the grand scheme of things; no doubt we will be getting back to business soon, albeit with some changes to make sure we can stay virus-free. And as soon as that happens, I’ll be back with another Let’s Tour article detailing the situation.