February 6, 2015
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Travel and Ishikawa Prefecture Collaborate
on Virtual Reality Tourism Using Oculus Rift

Tokyo, February 6, 2015 - Rakuten, Inc. today announced that Rakuten Travel, the travel reservation website operated by Rakuten, is collaborating with Ishikawa Prefecture to hold a virtual reality (VR) tourism experience event utilizing the Oculus Rift*1 head-mounted display and original technologies developed by the Rakuten Institute of Technology, Rakuten’s research and development department. The event will be held for 2 days from today as part of the program of the Ishikawa Traditional Crafts Fair being held at the Prism Hall in Tokyo Dome City.

In December last year, Rakuten held a similar VR tourism experience event using Oculus Rift with the collaboration of Nagano Prefecture. This event will be the second time for such an event to be held. At the event, participants will have the chance to experience a virtual tour of Kenroku-en, one of the “Three Great Gardens of Japan.” The aim of the event is to promote the prefecture and to encourage tourism in the area before the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line.

The Rakuten Institute of Technology was established in 2007 as the corporate research and development department of Rakuten to connect cutting edge technology with innovative services over the entire internet beyond the Rakuten framework, based on the “Third Reality” concept of conducting research into new services and technologies to bridge the gap between the real and online world. The photo-based immersive VR system*2 developed by the Rakuten Institute of Technology for this event is the first system successfully developed by the company utilizing a VR head mounted display. This event utilizes photo-based immersive VR in the tourism field, with the goal of empowering local communities and society through the internet. 

The VR tourism experience has the potential to be used as a way of raising demand for travel among young people and people visiting Japan from overseas, and Rakuten is looking into the possibility of introducing it as a service to local governments and hotels 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 offer a highly immersive feeling, including the Oculus Rift head mounted display used in this event. The newly developed photo-based immersive VR system uses the Oculus Rift functions to allow the viewer to observe a 360-degree view that follows the 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.

About the Event
Name: Virtual Reality Tourism Experience – Ishikawa Prefecture, Kenroku-en
Date and Time: 6 – 7 February, 2015  10:00 – 17:00
Venue: Tokyo Dome City, Prism Hall, Tourism Booth
Sites that can be experienced: Kenroku-en in Ishikawa Prefecture

Video footage of the Virtual Reality Tourism Experience is available at the site below:

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

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