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At the moment, travel is largely off the table—but that's not going to stop us from having a staycation inspired by our favorite destinations. So far this year, we've taken you on virtual vacations to Paris, London, Scotland, and Ireland.
Now, in the midst of a stunning cherry blossom season—and to honor what will be the location for the planned 2021 Olympics—here's how to have a Japanese-inspired vacation from home.
Take a Virtual Cherry Blossom Tour
Cherry blossom season in Japan can take place anywhere between January (in the southern parts of the country) and late May. To view some of the incredible blossoming, check out these virtual, 360-degree videos of the stunning sakura.
Visit Snow Monkeys Virtually
Assuming that you like adorable, fuzzy animals, you'll want to waste no time watching the webcam of these adorable snow monkeys frolicking in their natural habitat at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. This is an especially fun activity for little ones!
Enjoy a Bowl (or Two) of Homemade Ramen
Who can say no to oodles of noodles? Ramen is of course just one of dozens of incredible, traditional Japanese recipes that you can try out at home—but it's incredibly versatile, so you can use whatever you have in the fridge and get creative. Here is an easy, go-to ramen recipe from the San Francisco-based chef behind the Japanese cooking blog Just One Cookbook.
Create a Traditional Onsen in Your Bathroom
There is nothing quite like the magic of a Japanese onsen experience. These thermal baths are fed with natural hot spring water and are one of the most famed attractions in Japan. While you may not be able to feed hot spring water directly into your bathtub, you can order bath salts made in Japan ($20, amazon.com) that use medicinal herbs and minerals to mimic the components of onsen water. You can also put a few drops of hinoki wood essential oil ($50, konmari.com) to recreate the relaxing fragrance of the hinoki tree, the wood of which is used for onsens and ryokans around Japan. Before and after a restful soak in your tub, wear a Japanese-inspired robe or yukata like this one ($112, deiji.com).
If you'd like to experience a virtual tour of multiple Japanese hot springs during your at-home experience, five ryokans (inns) that are fed by the Arima Onsen have put together this multi-video VR tour.
Shop for Japanese Products (and Have a Spa Day)
Kokoro Japanese Product Store is your one-stop shop for any product that you'd like from Japan—especially since souvenirs aren't an option right now. Here, you can find all kinds of made-in-Japan items—and of course, that means there is no shortage of beauty products. We recommend checking out the best sellers page and picking a few beauty items, like the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence ($10, kokorojapanstore.com) or the Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner ($15, kokorojapanstore.com) to try at home—ideally after your therapeutic onsen soak.