Walking through Tokyo in 4k
January 21, 2022 11:28 PM   Subscribe

From Shibuya to Harajuku, or Shibuya to Tokyo Tower at night, or walking in the rain, or walking in the snow. And Tokyo isn't the only city where folks have uploaded hour-long videos from (walkable cities like Amsterdam are good too). Some folks watch these high-resolution virtual walking tour videos while on a treadmill or as a pandemic-era substitute for travel. Either way, they're a nice way to get a passive, unedited feel for a place that wasn't available before the YouTube era of the internet.
posted by AlSweigart (32 comments total) 94 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine started doing this around London, and it's been relatively successful. I can sort of see the appeal, although watching the empty streets during the pandemic just made me a little sad.

One thing I've noticed is that all these channels seem to comment on each other's channels. Is there some sort of walking video collective out there that hypes its own videos?
posted by benoliver999 at 11:59 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]

These are very pleasant, thanks!

I wish more of these were shot in a non-pandemic year. I can't help but think that the streets look a lot emptier than usual, but I don't know if that's just my rose-colored glasses.
posted by meowzilla at 12:13 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]

We often have these on in the background, they’re lovely. I find them interesting in a way that demands very little of me and speaks to my need for connection while minding my low energy and introversion.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:27 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]

Wear headphones, seriously. And watch on full screen. It's incredibly steady and really immersive.
posted by not_on_display at 12:31 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]

Rambalac is the channel I put on every night to fall asleep. His videos are fantastic and cover a little bit of everything: crowded city streets, countryside hikes, monorail rides and bus trips, summer festivals, Christmas lights, even some drone flying here and there. And all of it done with a minimum of fuss and relatively quiet ambience (except, you know, when watching fireworks or following a crowd of Pikachus in a parade).
posted by chrominance at 12:54 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]

I prefer https://virtualvacation.us/walk instead. Mainly because you don't have all the YouTube clutter surrounding the video (literally and figuratively)
posted by McNulty at 1:12 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]

Wear headphones, seriously. And watch on full screen.

I don't know if I'll ever get to go to Tokyo, but until then, this scratched that itch in a lovely way.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:44 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]

I'm always in awe how people manage to shoot these videos with a big camera and gimbal without being hassled and asked to stop.
posted by dominik at 2:21 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]

I’ve become very addicted to these. For those times when cab ride videos seem too hectic.

I’m very fond of Seoul Walker. This walk in the snow is one of my favorites.

This stroll through Times Square during the massive Ida rainstorm is lovely, loud, and has amazing colors.

Also have come to love some of the tram cab videos I’ve found. Faster and smoother than the walks, but slow enough and at street level to catch the feel of the city. DarkBoy76’s channel has some great routes in Rotterdam.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:58 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]

I'm more of a train video fan (Cabview Holland Dutch Railways is my usual background noise), although we occasionally put on the walking and biking videos to see if we can spot our house or favorite places. As residents of Amsterdam, we're often puzzled by the routes the filmers take and we frequently shout at the screen "why are you turning onto the most boring bland street? there's a scenic canal/church/alley around the next corner!".

If you want to step outside the city, The FlyingDutchMan's Giethoorn 8K Scenic Walk Tour is a video in a fascinating town in the Netherlands with no cars, only boats and walking paths. And if you prefer dance music with your windmills, Joris Voorn live at Kinderdijk and Ferry Corsten live from de Zaanse Schans are both beautiful sets.
posted by autopilot at 3:00 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]

Anyone know what kind of setup theses people have to get such great sound and such a steady picture but still be able to lug it around for hours?
posted by conifer at 3:18 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]

I watched the first two and I really felt like I was in Tokyo!
posted by Umami Dearest at 3:21 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]

Rambalac posted his setup - three years ago already, so I guess by now many parts are a bit smaller now.
posted by dominik at 3:28 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]

Rambalac is who I watch when I need to just chill out and relax. I like the fact that they go everywhere from packed downtown Tokyo out to the kind of residential areas you'd probably never see unless you lived there.

As someone who grew up and has mostly lived in the suburbs, seeing how people build, live, and interact in densely populated spaces is always interesting. There are days when I dream of what life would be like if I didn't have to drive everywhere, and watching these videos shows me what that would look like.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get to visit Tokyo, but if I did I'd take a map of a few of Rambalac's walks and use those as my sightseeing adventure.
posted by ralan at 5:45 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]

I like the Shinjuku Golden Gai walks. I'm starting to recognize some of the joints.
posted by credulous at 8:18 AM on January 22

I love these videos, especially the ones made by Rambalac. I'm on the spectrum and travel is just not a thing I can do, and watching these videos scratches my exploring itch. I use the Radio Garden app to find a local radio station to play softly while I watch.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:09 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]

I recommend escapista.app as a source for these. In addition to the Urban category in the link, it consolidates and cycles through many such videos, served randomly also in Historical (walks through museums and old towns), Nature, Beach (walks through the woods and along the shore), Still (very pleasant nature views), Car, Train (often but not always showing the Bergenbanen) and Bike. Essential in these travel-restricted, locked-down times. To get to and identify the YouTube source, just click the video.
posted by Rash at 10:01 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]

I came to these walking videos from watching driving videos -- I missed the driving bits from Van Paugam's youtube channel that mixed scenic driving around Japanese cities with city pop songs, but was deleted by YT, so I took to channels like utitoyo or Tokyo Smith. New J Channel is the closest thing to Van Paugam's record collection.
posted by sukeban at 10:07 AM on January 22

Rambalac upgraded to a Sony FX3 last year (you can see both the old and new setup early in the video) and apparently it's lighter and more compact in addition to having better image quality in low-light. It's a big enough kit that someone would be like "hey stop filming me" if it was pointed at you for any period of time, but not so big that you couldn't just play it off as being a very well-equipped tourist making some very intense vacation videos.
posted by chrominance at 12:49 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

The walking videos from Japan and Europe have been our go to relax and chill in the background after work thing during these Covid times. Rambalac, of course is a favorite, but there are many others too.

Recently I discovered that there are some amazing ones of China, and if you want a taste of what it looks like to live in a city that is a living, breathing version of Bladerunner right now, check out this video of Chongquin at night:
  • Beautiful giant old buildings glowing in the night? Yes…
  • An entire city of huge skyscrapers covered in LEDs showing ancient animated Chinese landscape paintings, dancing patterns and advertisements? Yes!
  • ‘Cyberpunk’ museum in a cave shopping complex? Yes!
  • River cruise boats so lit up that they look like they are projected from an alternate augmented reality? Yes!
Seriously, I can’t imagine what visiting New York or even Tokyo feels like for the people that live there. (At the same time, it takes Umberto Eco’s Travels in Hyperreality and cranks the volume up to eleven, it is overwhelming in so many ways…)

It doesn’t necessarily take a huge or expensive rig to make these videos. The DJI Pocket Series, for example, is incredibly small but packs amazing quality video in a tiny package.
posted by rambling wanderlust at 2:22 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]

When I visited Japan I ended up basically doing that that Shibuya-to-Tokyo-Tower walk in reverse, it was a lot of fun and I felt safe the entire time. Most residential districts have pretty clearly marked walking paths and I never felt like I was intruding on anyone's space. My other friends got extremely drunk at a bar, but I was only moderately drunk. I didn't want to wait for the trains to start, so I walked back to my hotel and got there around sunrise. These videos will give me some good ideas for when I can travel again, Amsterdam was definitely already on the list.
posted by JZig at 3:33 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

I watch https://www.twitch.tv/virtualjapan, which walks around the Tokyo area with music playing.
posted by cuscutis at 4:09 PM on January 22

This reminds me a lot of the kind of videos that featured on City Guesser, featured here previously.
posted by Aleyn at 1:33 AM on January 23

Rambalac really is the best of this genre I’ve seen. They have a telepathic ability to intuit what I (and I assume other viewers) want to take a second look at in a shop or restaurant window, and to plan some lovely walks.

I’ve been to Japan a couple of times now but their videos got me thinking about how Japanese cities seem to be made on a more human scale than, say, US or UK cities. Fewer cars, combined pavement and road on a lot of streets, safe for cyclists, dense mixed-use neighbourhoods, a focus on utility rather than looks (not that the streets look bad per se, just different).
posted by adrianhon at 1:43 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

I'm always in awe how people manage to shoot these videos with a big camera and gimbal without being hassled and asked to stop.

I've noticed that with Rambalac, at least, he (meaning the camera) is always looking at whatever the crowd is looking at. He's not really looking at individuals, he's just looking where you'd naturally be looking in that situation. If he's walking down the street, his camera is focused on the what's ahead, not on any particular person. Unless he sees a cat - then all bets are off.

Now and again you see people looking his way to see what he's up to, and I've seen a few people turn their faces away. But it's rare to see people even take notice or even "wave for the camera," which is what I'd expect to happen all the time.
posted by ralan at 6:08 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]

I have the great urge to make even more mundane versions of these - walking through the various Midwest American neighborhoods available to me.
posted by PussKillian at 9:55 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]

Many years ago, a local channel in Toronto did a few of these and used them as very late night filler. I am told they were very popular with folks in jail or other facilities with limited access to the world. Of course, the old ones aren't near 4K quality, but there is a certain vision of a lost world that is contained within them. My Nights Walk has them up for the curious. Very cool to see new places and the high quality.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 3:17 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]

For fans of trams and/or Prague, you can get a realtime street view from Mazacka, [also available via a Kodi add-on].

I'd love to be able to find more sources of live [non-static] city views like this, but there seem to be very few.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 5:21 PM on January 23

This is one thing VR is good for.
posted by credulous at 7:24 PM on January 23

Pro tip: These vids pair nicely with beats from lofi hip hop radio.
posted by Bob Regular at 4:14 PM on February 6

I'm a fan Rambalac and Virtual Japan, but I think my favorite videographer in this genre is Japan Backpackers Xpress. What originally drew me in was their wonderful journeys to see cherry blossoms, and by chance 2022's first hanami trek to Toi Onsen and Atami was posted this morning. They always seem to go to the places I want to see and show the things I like to look at. From Shirakawa-go and Yunishigawa Onsen in winter, to Tochigi Prefecture in autumn or Kyoto in summer.

They don't do it as much as they used to, but one of the things I liked about JBX's videos was they showed how to get to the places they were going. It was fun to see, for example, how to get out of the train station to look at the cherry blossoms in Nihonbashi or this full journey from Tokyo Station to the Ginzan Onsen.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:23 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]

There's a guy in London named Watched Walker with a YouTube channel of wordless walking tours -- mostly in London, but also around Europe.

He has also done videos during events like the UEFA Cup riots in 2020, or 90-some videos of Christmas in London.

Sometimes I just sit and watch these instead of a movie. :7) But I am toying with the idea of planning a trip, and walking videos like this are a great way to see an area before visiting or booking lodging -- and to update my memories of places I haven't been in 25 years!
posted by wenestvedt at 5:51 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]

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