By JIRO TSUTSUI/ Staff Writer
June 10, 2021 at 07:00 JST
HIKONE, Shiga Prefecture--Feudal era enthusiasts eager to learn about Hikone Castle in a fun way can do so by attacking the impregnable fortress with an informative app.
The National Treasure Hikone Castle Explorer app was produced by the Omi Tourism Board amid mounting calls for the castle, a national treasure, to be added to UNESCO's World Heritage list.
The app contains a siege game where users can attack the castle. Soldiers automatically appear on-screen to thwart any invasion when users hold up their smartphones at one of the four locations from the front gate to the main keep.
The app also has videos that explain the castle's defense system and other features, using CGI to re-create battle scenes. The video clips explain the castle's secrets that are so easily missed by tourists unless explanations are offered.
With the help of an augmented-reality (AR) feature, users can also take photos of themselves wearing the "kabuto" helmet of Ii Naomasa, the first feudal lord of Hikone Domain, adorned with a horn-like ornament.
Developed to attract foreign tourists once the novel coronavirus pandemic is contained, the app is available in Japanese, English and Chinese.
It was supervised by Chris Glenn, 53, an Australian DJ who is a big fan of castles and serves as tourism ambassador for the Omi region. He also appears in the videos to provide commentaries.
"It is designed for non-Japanese who are not familiar with Japanese history," Glenn said. "I hope people can learn about the castle in a fun way and feel proud of it."
There is no need for users to visit Hikone Castle to download the app on their smartphones and tablet devices for free, but the siege game can only be enjoyed on site.
For inquires, visit Omi Tourism Board's website at (https://oh-mi.org/).
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