Japan road trip video goes viral

by Atsushi Kodera

Staff Writer

A driver’s-eye view of a spectacular 80-hour road trip across Japan has become an Internet hit, with visitors from 47 countries on every continent taking in the scenery it features.

The video depicts an unbroken drive from Cape Sata, in southern Kyushu, to Cape Soya, about 4,500 km to the north.

It was made to promote a dashboard camera from Panasonic Corp., and can be seen at the “One Sky, One Road” website.

The website, in both Japanese and English, has been up since April 14 and will remain live until Saturday.

Filmed with the company’s dashboard-mounted Gorilla Eye CN-GP737VD, a satellite navigation device that incorporates a wide-angle camera, the movie has attracted high viewing figures from web users in Japan, followed by China, Taiwan, the United States and Hong Kong.

But it is South Koreans who ogle the longest, spending an average of 16 minutes 37 seconds watching scenery pass by in the video, exceeding Japan’s average of 5 minutes 39 seconds. Hong Kong residents and viewers in France followed respectively at 5 minutes 32 seconds, and 5 minutes 28 seconds.

The movie is broken down into 59 chapters, allowing a viewer to select a specific part of the cross-country journey. The website also features a timelapse-style, high-speed movie showing spectacular highlights, which runs for about two minutes. It also has a section that mimics a satellite navigation unit, and a short behind-the-scenes video showing how the project came about and describing the challenges the team encountered during shooting.

Starting with a view of a signboard marking the southernmost tip of Kyushu in Kagoshima Prefecture, the virtual drive takes the viewer on such routes as the Nichinan Phoenix Road along the southeastern coast of Kyushu, the Seto Ohashi bridge linking Honshu at Okayama Prefecture and Shikoku at Kagawa Prefecture, the busy Bunkamura Dori street of Tokyo’s Shibuya district at night, and Irohazaka, a hill road renowned for its sharp hairpin bends in picturesque upland Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture.

“I think what you consider is the best section varies from one viewer to another,” said Takashi Otsuka, a Panasonic spokesperson. “But I would say the final scene of the car arriving at the Cape Soya is one of the best — the sky is clear, the sea is beautiful, and you can see a windmill turning against the sky..”

Although it offers an uninterrupted view through the windshield, the movie is actually made up of footage shot over eight days in early March that was spliced together.

There were six members of the film crew, including a driver, cameraman and navigator. They used four different cars, each suited to the terrain ahead and each equipped with a Gorilla Eye system. Support staff followed in another car, Otsuka said.

He said the team tried to ensure that popular spots were passed at a time of day when they are best viewed. Thus, the views of neon lights in Kobe were captured at night, and Mt. Fuji was shot during the day.

  • JTCommentor

    I’m not sure you understand what “going viral” means, in this context.