japantoday– One thing this pandemic has taught is that having the option to do physical activities in the digital sphere is both useful and desirable, and thanks to virtual reality technology, living life digitally has become even more immersive than ever. Nowadays, you can even shop in virtual reality spaces!
Event planning company Hikky’s Virtual Market, for example, is a digital event space where users can don avatars to enter a marketplace, buy real-life goods, talk to people, and explore the local area. But the most recent Virtual Market event, Virtual Market 6, is special because its entranceway is a realistic recreation of Akihabara Station.
Hikky has teamed up with JR East and JR East Planning to create a VR experience of the Akihabara Station area, which will be the digital launching point of Virtual Market 6 until August 28. Visitors from anywhere in the world can walk around Akihabara Station, enter through the station ticket gates, and even ride the train to travel around the VR world of Virtual Market 6.
The station area looks exactly like the real Akihabara Station, both inside and out, all the way down to the ticket gates, signboards, and even the escalators. In the VR space, you’ll also find characters from Evangelion and HoloLive, as well as Chiitan. Look out for a special piece of mosaic art, which will also decorate the real-life Akihabara Station for a limited time.
The collaboration intends to unveil more exciting ways to use the virtual Akihabara Station–besides just a launching point–, such as inviting various companies to add their own flair to it. There are also more plans for the real station to mirror things that happen in the virtual station, like with the mosaic art. We’ll have to wait and see what cool things unfold.
If you would like to check out the Akihabara Station entrance of Virtual Market 6, you can do so by going to its main page. Hikky’s Virtual Markets are open 24 hours a day while they’re ongoing, so people from all over the world can join in at any time. You don’t need to have any VR consoles to participate either; you can easily access the venue from a PC.
This is one example of how the three companies are working together in their “Beyond Stations” initiative to combine the real and digital worlds and create a new kind of experience. Though this is the first of their collaborations, JR East, JR East Planning, and Hikky have made a commitment to be pioneers in the territory of XR technology together–so we might see a lot more cool things come from them in the future!