Photo/IllutrationA computer graphics rendering of the Ogura Pond as viewed in ancient times from the Daikichiyama hill (Provided by Seiji Morita)

  • Photo/Illustraion

UJI, Kyoto Prefecture--History buffs and would-be time travelers can go back 1,600 years thanks to a free app that uses augmented reality technologies to relive a long-gone view of the storied Ogura Pond.

The app is the brainchild of “Chihayaburu Uji no Mirai o Tsukuru Kai” (Association for creating Uji’s future), which started up in 2016 for the purpose of learning about the regional community’s history and gaining insight for future community development.

Uji has connections to Uji-no-Waki Iratsuko, a prince of the Kofun Period (late third to seventh centuries) who, according to one version, killed himself in order to yield the imperial throne to his older brother, who went on to become Emperor Nintoku.

Seiji Morita, head of the association, approached Ichiro Kanaya, a professor of computer science with the University of Nagasaki, and Yasumasa Ichikawa, a computer graphics artist, with a proposal for recreating a landscape that Uji-no-Waki Iratsuko may have seen.

The pair began developing the app last summer using antique maps as reference material.

The app shows computer graphics renditions of a view of Ogura Pond from sunrise through to a starry night. The view can be turned around 360 degrees by moving a smartphone or any other device loaded with the data.

User feedback will contribute to further improvements to the app, officials said.

The app’s release was marked with a ceremony on March 25 held on the Daikichiyama hilltop platform in Uji. The lookout commands a sweeping view of the former Ogura Pond site which covered a vast area along the lower reaches of the Ujigawa river.

Find out how to view the app, in Japanese, on the association website (