In October last year, when Japan House London began taking panoramic photographs of “Anno’s Journey: The World of Anno Mitsumasa,” its gallery exhibition of the award-winning picture-book illustrator Mitsumasa Anno, little did it know that its plan to turn those images into the institute’s first virtual tour would become so relevant just six months later.

“The tour was created when the exhibition was in situ at Japan House London, but we were waiting for the right moment to launch it on our website,” says Simon Wright, the U.K.-Japan cultural hub’s director of programming. Now, with the institute temporarily closed in the midst of the nation’s COVID-19 lockdown, he says that “it seems like the most appropriate time to welcome visitors ‘virtually’ to our space.”

Launched on April 24 and hosted on the 360-degree virtual tour platform Kuula, “Anno’s Journey” is an immersive audio-visual experience. It invites viewers to pan and glide through the exhibition’s striking black-and-white display space, while listening to the whistle of a passing steam train, chirping crickets and the buzz of cicadas, a soundscape designed to evoke the childhood experiences of Anno, who grew up in rural Japan during the early Showa Era (1926-89). The works and display texts, all neatly arranged on white walls, can be enlarged with the click of an icon, while supplementary background information about Anno and his work can be found elsewhere on the Japan House London website.