Relax Virtually Around a Ryokan (Japanese Bath House)

by Rachel Cormack

It feels near impossible to steal a moment of zen while a global pandemic rages on, or to clear your mind of coronavirus news and practice mindfulness. But leave it to the Japanese to find an ingenious (and calming) solution: the virtual onsen. That’s right, you can now take a restorative dip in the Land of the Rising Sun without actually leaving your home.

It’s all thanks to a group of ryokan (Japanese Inn) owners in the town of Arima, who have begun uploading VR footage of their hot-spring baths to YouTube. There are four videos on the channel so far and each clip promises a peaceful vista, as well as soothing sounds of flowing water and cherry blossoms fluttering in the wind.


Japan’s  hot springs can help to heal people in quarantine around the world, as well as increase the efficacy of the quarantine,” the group said in a press release. “This way, we may, even if only slightly, help reduce infections and suffering from the new coronavirus.”

The town of Arima is a renowned hot spring retreat, but after the prefecture of Hyogo went under a state of emergency this month, some 90 percent of the town’s ryokan have closed to the public, according to The Verge. Thus, these VR experiences not only help people to relax but also give the ryokan owners an opportunity to show off their remarkable amenities.

It feels near impossible to steal a moment of zen while a global pandemic rages on, or to clear your mind of coronavirus news and practice mindfulness. But leave it to the Japanese to find an ingenious (and calming) solution: the virtual onsen. That’s right, you can now take a restorative dip in the Land of the Rising Sun without actually leaving your home.

It’s all thanks to a group of ryokan (Japanese Inn) owners in the town of Arima, who have begun uploading VR footage of their hot-spring baths to YouTube. There are four videos on the channel so far and each clip promises a peaceful vista, as well as soothing sounds of flowing water and cherry blossoms fluttering in the wind.

 

Japan?s hot springs can help to heal people in quarantine around the world, as well as increase the efficacy of the quarantine,” the group said in a press release. “This way, we may, even if only slightly, help reduce infections and suffering from the new coronavirus.”

The town of Arima is a renowned hot spring retreat, but after the prefecture of Hyogo went under a state of emergency this month, some 90 percent of the town’s ryokan have closed to the public, according to The Verge. Thus, these VR experiences not only help people to relax but also give the ryokan owners an opportunity to show off their remarkable amenities.

Indeed, once the Covid-19 crisis has subsided, a trip to an Arima onsen should be at the top of your list.

Original article Robb’s report

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Instructions:

Through the videos, viewers will be immersed in a visual and auditory experience where they can feel the breeze surrounding an open-air bath, cherry blossom petals floating in the air, the sound of running water, among other virtual elements. VR goggles are needed to view the videos, including the first clip which will be uploaded to YouTube on April 17.

The need for special goggles can be seen as a drawback, but Kanai says, “I hear that there are many people who spend their time playing games at home, so we feel that more people will start using these goggles as well.” He added, “We would like to increase the number of facilities participating in the project and deliver the healing power of Arima hot springs to the world.”

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