Rail travel in Japan goes virtual and it’s mostly free

It’s no secret that Japan is one of Singaporeans’ favourite holiday destinations. Just look at the travel data from Expedia—the travel booking platform has revealed that the top destination searched for the months of January and February 2021 was none other than Tokyo.

But unless another travel bubble is created, none of us will be heading there, or anywhere in Japan, any time soon.

, Rail travel in Japan goes virtual and it’s mostly free
Japanese Northern Alps in Nagano Prefecture

Would-be travellers will have to settle for the Japan Rail Fair, presented by Japan Rail Cafe. Organised for the first time from Nov 20 to 22 and Nov 27 to 28, the fair is definitely a welcome addition to one’s calendar in lieu of travelling. For five days, it will be chock-a-block with free and ticketed live programmes that showcase rail travel, food, and culture in Japan.

For fans of all things Japanese
Taking the train in Japan is somewhat of a rite of passage for tourists. Be it navigating the extensive network of train lines or experiencing the Shinkansen (bullet train), it has been said that you won’t fully experience the country unless you hop onto this mode of public transport.

If you miss idyllic train rides, check out the virtual rail experiences and sharing sessions by guest speakers, including an autumn rail experience through eastern Japan by JR East. This webinar comes complete with an adorable ekiben (a bento box that is typically sold at stations and on the train) and JR East train memorabilia delivered to your home in advance.

, Rail travel in Japan goes virtual and it’s mostly free

Then there is the virtual Tokyo Station: The ‘0 km’ Trip which will explore one of the most important stations in Japan, and JR Stories: Rail Travel In Japan where guest speakers such as influencer Rachell Tan and the Japan Rail Cafe community come together to share personal travel stories and news.

, Rail travel in Japan goes virtual and it’s mostly free
Tokyo Station

A cultural feast
Not into trains? Attend the online shochu workshops organised by the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and conducted by certified Shochu sommelier, Christopher Pellegrini. You’ll get sampling sets delivered in advance. There are also informative webinars featuring Okinawa, Hokkaido, and Ehime and Kochi prefectures. Go on virtual tours and learn more about the culture and history of the areas.

And since it’s the season of giving, Japan Airlines cabin attendants will teach you how to wrap your presents using the age-old art of Furoshiki—the traditional Japanese technique of wrapping and transporting valuable items (the first 30 to pre-register for this event will receive a free Furoshiki cloth, an exclusive gift from Japan Airlines).

, Rail travel in Japan goes virtual and it’s mostly free

Finally, there will be a free Online Travel Booth where visitors can speak with travel experts to plan for their next (real) trip when possible. A grand lucky draw with attractive prizes will take place at the end of the fair.

The best part? You can attend all ticketed programmes for free, but without the food and beverage add-ons.

Japan Rail Fair takes place online via its microsite and Facebook Page. Tickets are available here.