Using a new site on Google, you use the Street View tools to check out 21 Japanese sites via its 360-degree panoramic technology. Not only Japan, but 132 destinations from 18 countries, including North and South America, Asia, Europe and Australia.
It's obviously missing Africa, and what there is from South America and Asia is a woefully small sample, but you have to start somewhere!
Anyhow... this is all part of Google's Cultural Institute, where they are trying to get people to be as cultured as a Japanese pearl.
The World Wonders Project is a platform which brings world heritage sites of the modern and ancient world online using its Street View, 3D modeling and other Google technologies and You Tube!
Google says that on the site, "viewers can explore a map with pins marking famed places around the world and then, aided by visuals from Google's Street View technology, they can go in and explore in 360 degrees just as if you were there."
What is really cool, is that via this site, you, the viewer actually get closer to some of these site that you would if you were actually there. At Stonehenge (where the pixies play) in the U.K., in the real site there are ropes up that stop people like you and me from actually going up and dancing naked within the circle of stones.
Since cars aren't allowed anywhere near the monument (exhaust could damage the chemistry of the stone), Google attached cameras to tricycles and pedaled up real close to the monuments and snapped away! They weren't kiddie tricycles, by the way!
Google has partnered up with UNESCO and the World Monuments Fund, who provide information alongside the virtual destinations.
You gotta check it out! There are 21 sites to visit in Japan alone - and trust me... these panoramic views will only whet your appetite to go and visit the real places!
Here's a couple of examples:
To start, click HERE and then look to the bottom where you will see a partial globe... using your computer mouse, move to teh part of the world you wish to view and see if there is a red flag atop it. Click on one of those flags, and depending on the location, multiple sites will be offered to you to view. Click on it. The photograph above will move to the site you have chosen. To the left, you can then "Explore This Site Now" by clicking on the silver-colored bar.
Now that you are at the site, you can click on the circle at the top left and zoom in or zoom out, and with the mouse you can move the photographic image to the left, right or front and back and check the site out to its tiniest brick. Almost.
I will say that I was a tad disappointed with the Google view of Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in Hiroshima. The image Google offers is at low tide... shouldn't it be at high tide when it is partially submerged in water? That's the beautiful image! Oh well... if you go to that site and look at the photography, you'll see many shots of it IN the water.
Oh well... that's the great thing about digital photography and the Internet... you can always change your errors.
Regardless... good job, Google! Now... more please!