So I’ve been enjoying a weekend vacation of sorts, having escaped Tokyo for a few days for a slightly slower pace down in Kyoto and Nara. And while I’ve been pretty much disconnected for the entire time save for the occasional online photo dump, I did get a kick out of this new Visit Japan with Hello Kitty iPhone application from the Japan National Tourism Agency. And it prompted me to think about possible ways to gamify tourism.

The application, in addition to providing various information about common tourist attractions nationwide, comes with a location-based augmented reality function that lets you take photos with the uber-cute Japanese icon. This function, depending on your location in Japan, will let you take a photo with one of the many locally-themed Hello Kitty graphics overlaid on your travel photo.