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Bus trips can be a lot of fun, can’t they? And many buses these days are truly fancy, impressive vehicles, making bus trips quite comfortable as well. Plus, the bus takes you all the way to your destination and back, without the hassle of changing transports while dragging around your luggage, so the traveling is all sweet and easy (unless you get stuck in traffic for hours or the bus breaks down, of course). In fact, you could even say that the only thing you have to worry about is being bored while you’re sitting in the bus. Well, we found a unique bus tour that definitely leaves no room for boredom and didn’t hesitate to send one of our reporters to experience it first hand. And believe us, the bus used in this tour is unlike any you’ve seen before…

The tour in question is actually a series of bus day tours called the “Star Fighter” tours operated by WILLER TRAVEL Inc. Now, what makes these tours unique is that you get to ride on a new type of space-travel themed bus that allows you to virtually experience adventures in space while the bus is transporting you to your tour destination.

Among the several star fighter tours available, our reporter participated in the “Odaiba Free Plan” where the bus takes you from Shinjuku station to the Odaiba area and back. It’s quite a simple tour that allows you to spend about four and a half hours free in the fashionable Odaiba district, a popular tourist and leisure area where there are many entertainment and shopping facilities.

So, on to our reporter’s account of the actual tour. Arriving at the starting point of the tour, the bus was the first thing to catch our man’s attention — the shiny, silver vehicle was certainly not what you would expect a tour bus to look like. Some of the tour participants, particularly parents with young children, were already getting exited and taking pictures of the bus.

And what about the inside of the bus? Each passenger seat was equipped with a joystick and monitor screens on both the back of the seat in front and on the side as well, where the window usually would be. It was almost like stepping into a fancy theme park attraction ride!

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In addition, a curtain was drawn between the driver’s seat and the rest of the bus, blocking all view of the outside from the passengers, so it was obvious that considerable attention to detail had been paid in order to maintain the illusion of traveling in space. (And if you’re concerned about not having anyone to go on the tour with, don’t worry — the bus seats are lined up in rows of one and two seats divided by the aisle, so it won’t feel too awkward even if you have to sit by yourself.)

Once the tour started, the lights inside the bus grew dim after just a very short greeting from the tour guide, and a video explaining the story behind the space travel theme was shown on the front monitor. According to the video (and also the information on WILLER TRAVEL’s website) the Star Fighter saga starts as follows:

“The year is 20XX. Humans have discovered the existence of a shining crystal body in the section of space around the planet Cocoon. Adventurers from all parts of the world have ventured out into space in search of this crystal. WILLER-X, a travel company of the future, has developed a new type of “Star Fighter” spaceships and has announced a series of treasure hunting tours to search for this mysterious crystal using these new spaceships.”

Our reporter didn’t want to go into too much detail so as not to spoil the fun for any prospective “space travelers”, but participants in the tour while on the bus get to take part in various shooting games and quiz games  as passengers of the space ship Star Fighter. According to what our reporter heard, if you’re successful with the games and able to collect all the key words hidden throughout the space travel story necessary to obtain a secret password, you can apparently even win a commemorative gift to take home with you. Unfortunately, our reporter wasn’t able to complete the quiz game successfully, so we regret that we can’t report to you on what the special gift is or even whether such a bonus gift really exists!

We can say, however, that our reporter was thoroughly impressed not only with the games and quizzes, but with the expert presentation of the space travel concept using the entire bus, with images being projected on even the walls and ceiling of the vehicle. In fact, what our reporter remembered the most about the bus ride was how surprisingly short it felt, with all the activities to keep him entertained. Like we mentioned earlier, you really don’t have to worry about being bored on this tour, at least while you’re on the bus!

▼The gleaming, futuristic-looking silver bus

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▼It really looks like a spacecraft inside!Star 2

▼Each seat comes with a joystickStar 3

▼You don’t have to worry even if you’re traveling alone – there’s seating for one!Star 4

▼The space tour starts!Star 5

▼The side monitor displaying the space outsideStar 6

▼The image displayed on the ceilingStar 7

▼The game display showing how to use the joystickStar 8

▼The journey ends … the bus ride was over so quickly!Star 9

The Odaiba Free Plan tour which our reporter participated in is priced at 2,300yen ($23), and there are several other Star Fighter plans you can choose from as well, including the “Astronaut Training Simulation Experience” plan (7,500yen – 8,000yen), which includes a trip to the Tsukuba Space Center where you can experience three different kinds of simulated training with equipment and facilities actually used by astronauts, and the “National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation” plan (2,800yen) which includes entry into the fascinating science museum.

Although it looks like the Star Fighter tours are currently available in Japanese only, the concept seems fascinating and would seem to have a huge amount of potential. Our reporter certainly enjoyed the experience, and it does seem like a good way to forget about reality for a while. (And who doesn’t need a break from reality once in a while, right?) Here’s wishing all the “star fighters” out there a happy and safe space journey!

Photos: RocketNews24
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