December 17, 2014
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Uses Oculus Rift to Promote Travel Tie-up with Nagano Prefecture

Tokyo, December 17, 2014 - Rakuten, Inc. today announced that Rakuten Travel (, the travel reservation website operated by Rakuten, has collaborated with Nagano Prefecture to hold “Virtual Reality Tourism Experience – Nagano Prefecture”, a virtual reality (VR) tourism event utilizing the new Oculus Rift*1 head mounted display and original technologies developed by the Rakuten Institute of Technology (RIT The event was held at Ginza NAGANO in Chuo-ku, Tokyo on December 17, and was the first time that a travel company has held such an event in Japan. 

This event was part of “One Hundred Days before Gokaicho, A Journey Through Nagano starting from Zenkoji Temple,” an initiative aimed at promoting the attractions of and travel to Nagano Prefecture through simulating the actual journey to Zenkoji Temple, which is approaching the Gokaicho (a ceremony revealing temple treasures) in April 2015, and the popular power spot Togakushi Shrine. 

Rakuten established the RIT in 2007 as the corporate R&D department to reach beyond the Rakuten framework and offer innovative services through advanced technology over the entire Internet, based on the “Third Reality” concept of conducting research into new services and technologies to bridge the gap between the real and online worlds. The photo-realistic immersive VR system*2 developed by RIT for this event is the first system successfully developed by the company utilizing a head mounted display. This event utilized photo-realistic immersive VR in the tourism field, with the objective of empowering local communities and society through the internet. 

The VR tourism experience is not just useful for promoting domestic tourism, but can also by used as a new means of PR for foreign visitors to Japan, and work is underway to introduce this experience as a service for local governments across Japan on a trial basis. 

In the future, Rakuten Travel will continue to offer new technologies and services in collaboration with local governments throughout Japan, to promote the attractions of each region both domestically and overseas, under the slogan of “Travel is Entertainment.”

*1 Oculus Rift is a head mounted display for VR developed by the American company Oculus VR.
*2 Immersive VR refers to virtual reality technologies and systems that can offer a highly immersive feeling, including the Oculus Rift head mounted display used in this event, as well as other immersive displays. The newly developed “photo-realistic immersive VR” utilized this time is based on still photographs along with the Oculus Rift functions to allow the viewer to observe a 360-degree view depending on viewer’s head orientation. Furthermore, the system allows the viewer to move freely within the virtual space, giving the viewer an unprecedented feeling of immersion. 

Summary of the Event
Title: Virtual Reality Tourism Experience – Nagano Prefecture
Date and Time: December 17, 2014 (Media Trial Session)
*Trial sessions for the general public will be December 21 from 10:00 until 17:00, and December 22 from 11:00 until 15:30
Location: Ginza NAGANO, 2nd Floor, Tourism Information Corner
Tourist sites that can be experienced: Zenkoji Temple (1. Shops along the approach, 2. 6 Jizo statues to the main temple), Togakushi Shrine (3. Shrine gate to Togakushi inner shrine)
*Official photographs from the event are available on request. Please inquire through the contact details listed below. 

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (4755:Tokyo), is one of the world's leading Internet service companies. We provide a variety of products and services for consumers and businesses, with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 11,000 employees and partner staff worldwide.

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*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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