The Embassy of Finland in Tokyo has come out with sauna VR, where the viewers can enjoy virtual sauna experience with the Embassy's mascot character Fintan as guide.
In the virtual reality (VR) sauna experience Fintan shows how to enjoy a typical sauna in Finland. He starts with taking a shower, and goes on to throw water on the hot stones in sauna to get löyly vapors, whipping his body with vihta (branches of birch trees) for good health effects, and even jumps in the icy lake to cool down. Fintan also explains the user about Finnish sauna culture in Japanese, telling how sauna was once regarded as a sacred place where tonttus (fairies) enjoyed the heat after the people went out.
Viewers can either enjoy the full virtual reality sauna experience with a special VR headset, or simply watch the 5 minute 360 degree YouTube video version on their own device. If the VR headset and handsets are available, the user can virtually "enter" the sauna with Fintan, crab a vihta and throw some löyly water to the sauna stove among other things.
The sauna VR was developed by students of the Tampere University of Applied Sciences as part of their study project, led by computer science teacher Antti Perälä. They used 3D data of Fintan first created for the Fintan animes published in 2017 to commemorate Finland's 100th anniversary of Independence. Famous Japanese voice actor Saori Hayami has performed Fintan's voice both for the VR as well as the animes.
Finland is known to have almost 3 million saunas within the country of 5,5 million people. After all, sauna is a globally known Finnish word, and is loved by people all around the world and especially in Japan, which is currently enjoying a real "sauna boom". Recently in June "Kosugiyu Midsummer Festival" introducing Finnish sauna culture at the public bath in Koenji, Tokyo, gathered about 1,700 people in just 3 days. As also Visit Finland is focusing on sauna for tourism promotion in Japan, Fintan sauna VR will be available for try at many future events of the Embassy and its partners in Japan. Come and enjoy!