Tour Report: March 26, 2016

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There is an urban legend in Japan that under each beautiful Sakura, or cherry tree, are corpses of the dead and the tree feeds on them. This originates from a short story written in 1928 by the famous writer Motojiro Kajii*. The story takes the form of a monologue by a seemingly deranged protagonist, explaining how he finally figured out this secret.

* “Lemon” is another famous work by Kajii, in which the main character places a lemon on top of a pile of art books at a bookstore as an act of revolt against daily routine life. The story is a common high school textbook material, and even today inspires students to procure the citrus fruit and raid nearby bookstores.

Of course the story is a work of fiction, but I do sometimes feel eerie when I see cherry blossoms in the moonlight.

On the other hand, Sakura in daylight is nothing but festive. It attracts visitors from around the world, and perhaps this explains why we had over 100 guests for our tour on Saturday, a record high for our organization. I went with a group of 18 with my partner guide.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was informed that a young guest from the United States was interested in Japanese shrines. His father told me they were planning to visit Kyoto in the following days. I sincerely hope they were able enjoy the historical city famous for its shrines and temples.

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The Sakura will should be in season for the next week or two. Do join our tour to see them at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.

(Report by Yohei)

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Tour Report on 19-March, 2016, Saturday

Thank you for the guests kindly joined our Saturday tour on 19th of March. We totally had 27 guests from eleven countries, by four groups.

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It was drizzling sometime, but we had sunshine at the end of the tour. Some of our guests enjoyed our ”instant Kimono” for taking a photo. You can wear the Kimono in 30 seconds! Not always, but we bring such Kimono occasionally.

 

By the way, do you know the fact Tokyo has islands? Last week I went to the one of such islands, Izu-Oshima. It takes two hours by ship from Takeshiba Port, near Hamamatsucho station. It was nice! There is a Camellia festival in Feb-Mar there and I could see Oshima-zakura as well. Oshima-zakura is one of cherry-blossom flowers and we can see it in that island only. Also we can enjoy Onsen hot-spring as well. It is sooo relaxing.

 

On 21-March, The Weather Forecast Agency announced that they recognized the bloom of Somei-Yoshino (most popular type of cherry blossom) at Yasukuni-shrine at Chiyoda-ku in Tokyo. Somei-Yoshino is the most popular type of cherry blossoms and used for such “first bloom” announcement. I guess our guests in next weekend will enjoy beautiful blooms during our tour at the East Garden of Imperial Palace. Dear our guests in next weekend, you will be a lucky witness!

(Report by Katsumi)

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We have a regular tour every Saturday and have weekday/Sunday tours irregularly.
Please check the calendar on our website, facebook and tripadvisor.

Tour Report on 12 March 2016

Thank you for joining the tour. On that day we welcomed 35 people from USA, Canada Australia, Ireland, UK, Italy, France, Germany, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Columbia. We divided into 6 groups.

It was a very cold day despite middle March. In the East Garden, Ume (Plum) flowers were almost fading away.

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Instead, red Kanzakura (Colder-climate suited cherryblossoms) were in full bloom.

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The flowers entertained us in the period between Ume and white-pink cherryblossom.

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Many of our guests want to know how the Tokugawa Shoguns (1603-1868), who were the former owner of the East Garden and built the castle on it, successfully governed, unified the nation and protected national sovereignty without having internal wars and never being colonised by other nations. There were 3 major policies to note.

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First one is alternate visit to the Shogun. All the province leaders called daimyo had to visit Shogun to pay respect once every 2 years. Their wives and children were forced to live in the city as hostages, so they had to do that.

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Second one is Seclusion. It was a policy to limit access to Japanese ports for foreign traders. Since Seclusion had implemented, no foreign nations except China, Korea and Dutch were allowed to enter and trade with Japan. That policy had been done until 1850’s when US ships came.

Last one is Ban on Christianity. Since Spanish Catholic priest named Francisco Xavier arrived in Japan, 1549, Christianity had spread but Tokugawa Shoguns feared Christianity was used as catalyst for coloninal rule. Then all the Christians at that time were ordered to renounce their faith. Usually they were forced to stamp on fumie (carved Jesus Christ picture on the plate). If they refused to do so, they were tortured to death. That part of the history was novelised by Japanese Christian novelist ENDO Shusaku and recently made into film by Hollywood, which will be shown later this year. The title of the story is “Silence.” A story of an European priest who was captured and ordered to denounce his religious faith to save his followers. Maybe one of the most brutal Christian persecutions in history.

Such policies are way in the past. Feudal period is over. Today Japan is one of the most democratic nations in the world. Political decisions are made by representatives elected by people. Freedom of expression and speech is protected by the constitution.

A day before the tour, a lot of people gathered in front of prime minister’s office to call for termination of nuclear power generation. It was 5 Years On from the Great East Japan earthquake and Fukushima power plant accident.

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Two recently re-operated nuclear power plants in Fukui prefecture were shut down on 10 of March, a day before the fifth anniversary by the court order after the citizens filed lawsuit against the power company. Only two out of existing 50 plants are re-operated at present because of strong opposition from public.

The sovereignty rests with people, not Shogun nor Emperor. Emperor is noted as symbol of nation in the current constitution.

Likewise, freedom of religion is protected by the constitution. There are many Christian churches in Japan.

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Although Christians account for less than 1% of the population, many Japanese celebrate Christmas and hold wedding at Chapel. We acquire many aspects of western culture to our life since late 19th century.

This nation is open to the world and trade with various nations. That is why we can hold such wonderful tour welcoming many people from all over the world.

We appreciate Tokugawa Shoguns who established this unified nation as well as current democracy and openess to the world.

We welome anybody regardless of their religion, nationality, race, ethnicity, culture and thoughts. Diversity is what all the people on earth have to appreciate. Please come and join us!CIMG7580

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Tour Report on 6-March, 2016

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I was a bit concerned because the weather forecast said that it would be rain, but unexpectedly it was sunny(sometimes slightly drrizled,though). furthermore, it was relatively warmer than typical early spring,luckily.

We got 23guests from U.S.,Poland,Spain,Canada,Ireland.Our tour began at Marunouchi central gate of Tokyo Station at 10:00.

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We were so fortunate because we were able to see  cherry blossoms and plum blossoms at the same time in the East Garden of the Palace. Cherry blossoms are the national flower, and Japanese people like plum blossoms,too. Plum blossoms were supposed to be at their best in February and most kinds of Cherry blossoms blooms in April, but some earlier speces blooms in March.The tour was finished around 12:30.

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After that, we moved to Asakusa to hold a optional tour.Tokyo. Sensouji-temple is one of the most famous historical sight-seeing place of Tokyo. We enjoyed to see some historical things, try Japanese sweets, fortune telling, and making a wish for the god of the temple.

written by Akira Hoyanagi

 

 

 

 

Tour Report on 5-March, 2016, Saturday

Thank you for the guests kindly joined our Saturday tour on 5th of March. We totally had 32 guests from twelve countries.

Spring has almost come! We have bloomed-plum-tree flower already from Jan. and also, the early-bloom cherry blossoms (kan-zakura) has been bloomed from late Feb. With warm winter in this year, it is sure the flowering season comes earlier more than usual, in addition to the global warming.  In Japan, the most popular cherry blossom (Sakura) type is Somei-Yoshino. Last week, The Weather Forecast Agency announced the blooms’ forecast of the Somei-Yoshino at each site in Japan. At Imperial Palace area in Tokyo, it is 23-Mar. Forecast is forecast, not 100% sure, but please keep this date in mind if you have a plan to visit Japan in March.

By the way, we have one of unforgettable days soon, 11-March. As some of you kindly remembered, we had a big earthquake in north part of Japan in five years ago. According to the Reconstruction Agency of Japan, 3,407 people have passed away (as of 30-Sep-2015) and 174,471 people live out of their hometown (as of 12-Feb-2016). Many issues are still on-going, like the big issue of Nuclear Power Plant at Fukushima or the delay of reconstruction process in the damaged area. However, the appearance of such issues at media is decreasing, that’s a problem. It is hard to remember the event in busy daily life, but with some occasion, we should try to remember it. For example, I love my charity T-shirt which I bought after the earthquake, with the warm message from Cyndi Lauper (famous American singer). It became a well-worn T-shirt, but I cannot throw away for now.

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Now, let me change the subject back to our tour report. Our new member kindly joined this TFWT group from last month. I guess they have a hard time to write his/her script for the time being, since we do not have common text. So, you can enjoy our tour with different guides with his/her own script. For the people who kindly joined our tour already, let us meet again!

(Report by Katsumi)

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We have a regular tour every Saturday and have weekday/Sunday tours irregularly.
Please check the calendar on our website, facebook and tripadvisor.

Tour Report on March 1, 2016, Tuesday (Weekday Tour)

Today we welcomed guests from USA, Ukraine, Turkey, Korea, UK, Switzerland and Australia.
The wind was quite cold & strong this day, and guests were shivering..
We appreciate everyone for getting through the tour with us despite this condition.
We thank our guests again for their participation, and wish everyone
a wonderful stay in Japan.
As for myself I had an opportunity to participate in the Imperial Palace tour on the next day.
Since the Imperial Palace is next to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace (where we give our free tour),I thought it would be worth a visit to understand more about the samurai era & modern Tokyo.
You need to pre-book online, and tour duration is 1.5hrs with a guide on megaphone.
English audio guides are also available. http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/
 
Once inside the palace ground, you could get a spectacular view of both Fujimi and Fushimi watchtowers up close, along with massive stone walls. Both are original of 17-18th century.
 
Fushimi watchtower is moved from the Fushimi Castle (in Kyoto) in early 1700s. Fujimi watchtower is a 3 story watchtower, which served as the main watch tower since 1657.
Be the next to join our friendly guides on Tokyo Free Walking Tour
(Every Saturdays: 13:00 -15:00)
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We have a regular tour every Saturday and have weekday/Sunday tours irregularly.
Please check the calendar on our website, facebook and tripadvisor.


Report by Asako

Tour Report, February 27,2016

Thank you for all the guests on Feb27!
It was a nice weather, and luckily, we could enjoy plum and a kind of cherry blooming.
In general, Cherry blosssoms bloom in late March or early April, but there are some species of winter-blooming cherry trees in the east garden.

 


By the way, in this season, many of Japanese put on masks and  one of guests asked me why.

Some of them put masks for prevention of flu or getting cold, but I think major reason is for their pollen allergy (including me!!).
Actually, it is said that 25% of Japanese has pollen allergy.
In Japan, after the Second World War, many forests were cut down for economic revival. But the sudden forests reduction caused many disasters, then Japanese plant many  Japanese cedar trees as a countermeasure.
However, in 1980s, after 30years from the planting,cedan trees grew up and  cedar pollen had started to fly, then Japanese nose showed rejection to a large quantity of pollen.
Since then and still now, we have been suffering from pllen allergy in this season.(especially form February to May)
You can check various masks in convenience stores or drug stores, such as pollen masks, masks which can keep humidity, or perfectly fits your nose and so on.

Anyway,  we have a regulartour every saturday and sometimes have weekday/sunday tours.

Please chek our website and join our tour!!