Tokyo has created a virtual world on Roblox to promote tourism to the city, complete with challenges that unlock rewards. Olivia Palamountain reports

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has unveiled a version of Tokyo through the ages on metaverse gaming platform Roblox to promote the city as a tourist destination.

The interactive portal, called “Hello! Tokyo Friends“, uses AR photography to provide gamers with a lifelike sightseeing experience of Tokyo.

The virtual world is divided into two main areas: “Modern Tokyo”, a cityscape based on iconic landmarks such as Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Station, Tokyo National Museum and the Odaiba Area; and “Treasure Hunt”, an activity designed to help users learn more about Japan’s capital city.Hello! Tokyo Friends According to a press release, the app offers various functions and environments for users to interact with people from Japan and around the world, introduce Japanese culture and guide them around Tokyo.

The launch couldn’t be better timed: at present, interest in travel to Japan is booming. According to Tripadvisor, Tokyo is leading in the list of top searched destinations globally.

Meanwhile, data from Airbnb shows the search traffic for Japan has increased over three times for January-September in 2024 in comparison to the first nine months of 2023.

The Japanese government hopes that its unusual spin on promotion will help further promote Tokyo’s appeal as a tourist city and foster a global community of Tokyo fans.

Users can also explore an interactive version of Tokyo through the “Tokyo Hunt!” web app, which turns smartphones into a gateway to the virtual world.Hello! Tokyo FriendsBy completing quests and visiting checkpoints within the game, users can collect tokens to unlock unique Roblox items as rewards. Four of these checkpoints allow users to capture photos using an AR camera with characters from the portal.

The launch of Hello! Tokyo Friends coincides with the release of the Tokyo’s Current Sightseeing Spots 2024 survey, which gathered responses from 3,000 Tokyo residents aged between 15 and 49 about what they would like to see included in the virtual Tokyo.Hello! Tokyo Friends Hello! Tokyo FriendsRespondents were split between the benefits of making the city known to the world, learning more about the city itself and connecting with the rest of the world.

When asked about the types of interactions they would like to experience with people from overseas within the game, respondents aged 20 and above primarily listed helping people get to know Japanese culture and educating foreigners about the city.

In contrast, those aged 15 to 19 were mostly interested in discussing common interests and playing games together.Hello! Tokyo Friends Hello! Tokyo FriendsThe introduction of the Tokyo Metaverse on Roblox is part of a growing trend of using immersive platforms to promote tourism and engage with a global audience.

In 2022, Celebrity Cruises built a virtual world called the “Wonderverse” where potential sailors can explore a hyper-realistic digital recreation of the company’s newest ship – Celebrity Beyond. Qatar Airways’ expanded its QVerse in 2023, to offer passengers an immersive preview of their journey.

As the metaverse continues to evolve, Globetrender predicts more cities and destinations will follow Tokyo’s lead in creating virtual experiences to showcase their unique offerings and attract visitors from around the world.