DNP and Akihabara Area Tourism Organization Announce Launch of Virtual Akihabara
Virtual space offers online shopping and advertising signage
Tokyo, April 4, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) and Akihabara Area Tourism Organization Ltd.1 are pleased to jointly announce the April 4, 2022 launch of Virtual Akihabara, a space fusing the real and the virtual worlds to promote the Parallel City, which combines collaborative regional development with Extended Reality (XR).
Consumers can enjoy the charm of Akihabara from anywhere in the world through PC apps, VR headsets and web browsers. In this virtual space, the partners have set up a store for shopping, a gallery space and advertising signage. Various companies, including contents holders can use this site as a third channel alongside real world and/or virtual channels, for information dissemination and sales promotion activities.
Den-On-Bu produced by Bandai Namco Entertainment virtual event released as the first collaboration project
Virtual Akihabara offers opportunities to enjoy video contents and shopping via e-commerce sites
Inbound demand is declining due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and challenges remain, such as how to create contents unique to Akihabara and disseminate information in a safe and secure manner, both in Japan and overseas. The establishment of new venues that allow creators to thrive, and the issue of how to create new communications are also outstanding issues. In addition, from 2021 DNP has leveraged XR technology that fuses real world and virtual elements to promote a new XR Communications Business2 to build and operate spaces recognised by local governments and facility managers.
As part of the regional rejuvenation, with the collaboration of Chiyoda Ward, Chiyoda City Tourism Association, and Akihabara Area Tourism Organization Ltd., DNP is developing spaces and designing functions for overcoming regional challenges. With the cooperation of local businesses, Virtual Akihabara reproduces in a virtual space the area from Manseibashi on Chuo-dori, one of the main streets running through Akihabara, to the intersection of Kanda Myojin Shita. Apart from being able to access real outlets as virtual shops, and creating a virtual gallery space above Chuo-dori, we are also extending the unique virtual possibilities.
We will disseminate the well-known Akihabara sub-culture, along with the charm of historical Kanda Myojin both in Japan and overseas. At the same time, by connecting regions, companies, creators and fans through XR, we will promote the rejuvenation of regional economies, further expand the contents market, and create new Akihabara fans.
1. Real Township and Virtual Spaces
The trademark signboards that are a feature of the real landscape of Akihabara will be reproduced with the cooperation of local businesses. A number of the virtual shops will include product display spaces that will guide users to EC sites to facilitate purchases.
Area of collaboration with Keigo Inoue
Area of collaboration with the 15 Jyugo-Shojyo
2. Large-Scale Monitors and Galleries Allow Avatars to Gather
Monitors for watch parties, where user avatars gather to view videos, will also be established, along with shops and galleries allowing for the display of products and creations, as well as advertising signage. Companies can participate in Virtual Akihabara merely by providing and implementing content.
Area of collaboration with the 15 Jyugo-Shojyo
3. Creating a Business Scheme to Facilitate the Secondary Creation of Anime and Manga IP
In addition to handling anime and manga Intellectual Property (IP), as a new initiative with content holders, we will establish a business scheme that allows creators to create secondary creations from those IPs, and exhibit and sell them in the virtual space. The contents will be managed by a non-fungible token (NFT), to realize a sound creative business cycle.
Area of collaboration with creators
4. Attracting Global Fans through Brand Recognition
In collaboration with MyAnimeList3 where anime fans, mainly from North America interact, we will attract overseas anime fans, and create a venue for anime fans to gather. We will also collaborate with MediBang4, where overseas creators and fans gather, to expand awareness among overseas users, such as through exhibiting and selling secondary creations.
Upcoming Content Releases
We plan to host events in collaboration with a variety of IP owners, and develop a series of IP-driven secondary creation projects.
Den-On-Bu X Virtual Akihabara supported by ASOBISTORE (Scheduled April 6 release via a web browser only)
Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. official entertainment commerce site, ASOBISTORE, will launch a shop in Virtual Akihabara. Products from the original music character project Den-On-Bu, based on a dance music theme, will be sold in the virtual space. We are also planning a watch party where contents can be viewed.
The Showa Centenary Exhibition (Scheduled April 10 release)
Creations by 21 up-and-coming creators shown in art exhibitions at Tokyo Anime Center in DNP Plaza Shibuya and Nagoya Parco will be exhibited at Virtual Akihabara. We also plan to sell merchandise based on the motif of the various creations.
Commemorative Sales of BD and DVD of Belle, the Latest Work from Film Director Mamoru Hosoda (Scheduled from Mid-April)
In line with the sale of BD and DVDs we also plan to display scenery photos and distribute promotional movie. We are also planning sales linked to a real world electronics mass retailer.
Introducing the History of Kanda Myojin (Scheduled from Mid-April)
We will publicly release a VR space allowing viewers to stroll through the grounds of Kanda Myojin. We also plan an historical exhibition to help viewers learn about the history and culture of Kanda Myojin and Tokyo.
Watch parties of programs distributed by Den-On-Bu will be delivered every day during the period of the event
Collaborative exhibition and merchandise sales by Virtual Akihabara and new creators
- Can be used with either a computer application or a web browser.
- App version: Can be used with DMM Connect Chat5. Compatible with Windows and some VR headsets.
- Web Browser version: Can be used with a computer or smart phone web browser. For instructions on how to use the two versions please visit the official Virtual Akihabara site at https://www.virtual-akihabara.com/english.
In cooperation with companies and organizations participating in Akihabara Area Tourism Organization Ltd., and collaborative partners, DNP will develop an environment that facilitates easy participation in Virtual Akihabara for companies, creators and fans. Such activities include the expansion of space utilization plans and service menus. In addition, we also plan to expand the space related to “Junk Street,” a nickname for the street which runs from the Chichibu Denki Building to Kuramae–dori, and the Station Square in front of Akihabara Railway Station, aiming to more widely disseminate the charm of Akihabara. At the same time, by enhancing connections with real world Akihabara via XR technology, we aim for further regional rejuvenation.