Japan’s Elderly Travels the World With Virtual Reality

Sights Syahirah Mokhtazar 16-Jul-2019

Not all senior citizens are blessed and mobile enough to travel the world, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to.

A gentleman named Kenta Toshima from Japan who works as a therapist has made travelling possible for his group of senior patients simply by using VR technology.

Without the hassle of long-haul flights and visa applications, the elderly can now see the world without having to leave their seats.

A video shown on CNN Travel featured travels to the canals of Venice to San Fransisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, among others.

As a therapist, Kenta traveled the world capturing 360-degree videos to show his senior patients. His aim was to help them find joy and motivation in life and to satisfy their wanderlust, with the help of VR technology.

To materialise the project, he teamed up with University of Tokyo lecturer and assistant professor Atsushi Hiyama.

In addition to providing immersive experiences, they also teach active senior citizens to film and edit 360-degree videos from their travels.

An 82-year-old man named Takeshi Maki shared how his 360 camera has helped him travel to Hawaii.

​”I have [friends who cannot travel], because I am over 80 years old,” he explains. “When I showed [the footage] to my friends, they were so surprised. You know most of the senior people cannot move or travel, right? This camera can help them.”

According to Kenta and Atsushi, the virtual reality travel project works in conjunction with physical rehabilitation in nursing care facilities.

The duo has hopes that the virtual reality experiences can help the elderly patients with the matters of the body and mind.

“Those who have lived to 80-90 years, there aren’t so many things they haven’t personally experienced,” said Kenta.

“When they see the virtual reality, it takes them to a different place right before their eyes. I saw people stand up who don’t normally stand up, who then start walking. It was so shocking.”

“Even if our physical and mental conditions decline because of aging, we can still experience and participate in society by using VR technology,” adds Atsushi.

Click here to check out the video.

Source: CNN Travel

Cover photo: Umer Sayyam / Unsplash