Explore Higashiyama & Nanzenji Temple with Amazon’s New Interactive Livestreaming Service
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Many people will have had frustrated travel plans this year due to the global pandemic, and worldwide the tourist industry as been hard hit as a result. However, a new interactive livestreaming service from Amazon is throwing local tour guides a lifeline with live, virtual travel experiences that you can book and enjoy via your computer. Amazon Explore, now in its beta version, offers virtual tours, shopping trips, cooking lessons and educational experiences in 16 countries across the world. The good news for Kyoto lovers is that two tours of this city are already available on this newly launched service.
Amazon Explore allows you to connect one-on-one with local experts, ask questions, take photographs, speak directly with local people along the way, indicate anything that interests you (or doesn’t!) during the session, and in some cases you can even do some souvenir shopping. The two-way audio allows you to communicate in real-time with your host, while the one-way video allows you to see your host without having to be on camera yourself. Sessions can last between 30 to 90 minutes and can be cancelled or rescheduled up to 24 hours before your experience begins. Let’s take a look at the tow tours in Kyoto that are currently available.
Zen Buddhism and meditation: a virtual tour of Kyoto’s Nanzenji Temple
Ken’s Tours Kyoto
40 minute session
This tour offered by the professional guides of Ken’s Tours Kyoto promises to deliver a crash course in Zen Buddhism and meditation combined with a virtual tour of this 700-year-old temple in Kyoto. You will be taken on a walk through the temple grounds while your host explains the history, architecture, and practice of Buddhist temples and the impact of Zen philosophy on modern Japanese life. At the end of the tour you will have the opportunity to join your host for a short refreshing meditation session in the temple garden. Click the image to find out more.
Virtually explore Kyoto’s traditional Higashiyama neighborhood
Intrepid Urban Adventures
75 minute session
This is a relaxed tour of of Higashiyama, one of Kyoto’s best-preserved neighborhoods, which begins with the colorful Yasaka Koshin-do Temple, where you will learn about the significance of the “three wise monkeys”, and take a short history lesson at Hokan-ji pagoda, before visiting local craft shops and browsing handcrafted pottery, traditional umbrellas, and other artisanal products of old Japan. For this session shopping is also an option, so you can purchase any items you like. Click the image to find out more.
So far just two virtual tours are available for Kyoto, but no doubt there will be more added in the near future. Other experiences available from Japan include sushi making lessons, a shopping trip to Tokyo’s Kappabashi-dori (also known as “Kitchen Street”), and learning about sake with a sommelier in a Tokyo bar.
Current system requirements for Amazon Explore are a laptop or desktop (mobile phones or tablets won’t work) and you will need to have an up-to-date version of one of the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari. You will also need a set of headphones or speakers and an internet connection of 5 mbps or more.
At present, Amazon Explore is only available to Amazon customers in the US and participation is on an invite-only basis. However, if you would like to join one of the virtual experiences you can simply request an invitation through the Amazon website. To find out more, please visit the Amazon Explore webpage.