COVID-19: Bank of Japan Providing a Virtual Tours of its Headquarters
After cancellations of on-site tours amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) is now organizing virtual tours of the facility that immerse visitors into its brick corridors, its expansive dome-roofed rooms as well as the underground vaults in this century-old building.
The BOJ digitized the museum format tour and now provides it as a multi-part virtual tour through its website. Visitors interested in exploring the century-old headquarters online can now do easily from the comfort of their homes free of charge. The virtual tour includes even a treasure hunt, adding a playful angle to the virtual tour of the venerable facility.
The BOJ has its headquarters in Nihonbashi, a business district in Tokyo. The facility consists of a newly built complex as well as the old building which was constructed in 1896. The building has since been declared a cultural heritage site.
The BOJ website has a “Tour the BOJ from home” which with the click of the mouse takes the visitor to the massive courtyard of the central bank. They are able to stroll inside the classical-style building and they get a 360-degree panoramic view of the building’s interiors.
Visitors are even browse a three-dimensional VR video of the building and they can hunt for hidden treasures inside the building including an old chair which was previously used by the past BOJ governors or the first automatic bill inspection machine in the world.
This virtual BOJ guide which is freely available was developed after the BOJ was forced to cancel the popular physical tour in March this year following the COVID-19 pandemic. The physical tour was a huge draw and attracted 19,000 visits during the last fiscal year. 10% of these were visitors from overseas.
The BOJ virtual reality tour was created in collaboration with the Virtual Reality Innovation Organization (VRIO).
The virtual tour of the Bank of Japan headquarters consists of several parts. The developers have recommended that the best optimal experience of the tour can be had with the Oculus Quest headset. However, other virtual reality headsets including Oculus Go can also be used to experience the virtual tour.
The tour begins from the courtyard where you can admire the massive columns of this historic classical-style building.
With the analog ticks of the Virtual Reality controller, you can teleport yourself to predetermined fixed points to take a closer look at some of the details of the building. You can also access the foyer of this classic building through the main entrance.
Visit can go through the large corridors and even the safe rooms in the basement. You can discover up to five hidden treasures in this virtual BOJ tour including an ornate horse drink as well as the first automatic money machine in the world.
English Localization of the Virtual Tour in Progress
Some parts of the building feature panels that provide visitors with information on the history of the bank as well as of the different rooms. While the text is mostly in Japanese, the process of making all of these available in English is currently underway. The current English test in the virtual tour are smaller but decipherable when one looks closely.
You can access the all the BOJ VR tours on the institution’s website. In case you don’t have a virtual reality headset, you can watch the 360-degree videos of the Bank of Japan tours on YouTube.