Tour Report On January 28th

It was unusually warm. I couldn’t believe we are in winter now. It was like spring has come.

By the way, we welcomed 23 guests from   Australia, U.K., Indonesia, Germany, Korea, Ukraine, and Argentine.

We split into 5groups and began the tour from Marunouchi central gate of Tokyo station at 1:00pm.as usual.

These are the group-photos. See below,

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The palace has a Japanese plum garden which has many kinds of Japanese plum-trees. Now they have cute flowers. They are supposed to bloom in February, but they looked they are the best now. Japanese like cherry flowers and plum flowers. Japanese plums bloom even in snowy days in February. They look like encouraging us to say spring is just around the corner.

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After the tour you can try an instant kimono. It takes about one hour or more to put on a normal kimono(a Japanese traditional cloth), but we have special kimono. It only takes two minutes to put on. We have ones for men and women. It sure is a good idea to wear the instant kimono to take a photo as a good memory of the tour.

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Then next is your turn! Come and join us! See us at Marunouchi central gate of Tokyo station by 1pm.

Akira Hoyanagi

Tour Report on 21 January 2017, Saturday

On that day we welcomed 32 guests from USA, Singapore, France, New Zealand, Australia, Phillipines, Taiwan, Argentina, Vietnam, Sweden and Indonesia. We divided into 4 groups.

It was a cold and windy day but the sky was very clear.

We are always pleased with a lot of people from all over the world joining this tour.

Interestingly,  it was very difficult for people from overseas to visit this country during which the East Garden was the feudal lord’s castle not only because travel methods were limited but Japan in that era forbade foreigners access to Japanese territory. Japanese authority feared imperialist invasion. Not just forbidding foreigners’ access but Japan had forbidden Catholism within its nation.

That part of the history was made into major Hollywood film, titled “Silence” and is now shown worldwide. Last November the film was premiered in Vatican city. It was filmed by Catholic director, Martin Scorsese. The story is based on a novel by Japanese Christian novelist, Endo Shusaku. He read the novel almost 3 decades ago and was very much impressed. Pope Francis said had read the novel as well. The story is that two Catholic priests smuggled into Japan to search for their missing mentor who was reported to have renounced faith. They also tried to save Japanese Christians who secretly prayed Jesus. Then they faced brutality of Japanese authority which tried to exclude Christianity from Japan.

Although it was a fiction but the novelist wrote the story based on real people. The main character, Sebastiao Rodrigues was modeled after an Italian priest who did the same thing in that era and ended his life in Japan. His grave and memorial stand at the Dentsuji-Temple in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. img_20170126_153216

 You can learn what he might have experienced during those days by the film. You can learn how the atmosphere of that time in Japan was like as well. That is what we mainly describe during the tour. We highly recommend you to see the film before joining the tour. Please be aware the film contains very brutal scenes.

In modern Japan, many, many foreigners come and enjoy Japan freely. Not just this tour but other places as well, like Kyoto for the old temples and shrines and Nagano prefecture for skiing and snowboarding.

This time of the year, in one village in Nagano, called Nozawa Onsen, 5 hour bus ride from Tokyo is full of foreigners mainly from Australia. For Australians, Nozawa Onsen has become second biggest ski resort to Niseko, Hokkaido, 2 hour flight from Tokyo. Nozawa looks more traditional and less commercial than Niseko for them. The village has a great ski field. They come and enjoy skiing or snowboarding. Everywhere in the snow field and streets, most of people are foreigners. Surprisingly the snow village turned to be one in Switzerland.

Japan is open to the world. We are friendly to everyone. We are living in great time in history. Japan is not only for Japanese nationals to enjoy but other people in the world. We welcome you all!

Tour Report on 14-January, 2017, Saturday

We would like to thank all our guests for joining Tokyo Free Walking Tour on January 14, 2017.
Winter season has definitely come.
As the Meteorological Agency predicted, the daytime temperature in Tokyo was less than ten degrees.

Despite such severe weather, around thirty guests participated in our strolling tour.
All of the participants were divided into four or five groups and several guides were assigned to each group to accompany them.
The groups’ starting point was Tokyo station and we walked towards the East Garden of the Imperial Ground, where the Shogun’s residence used to be.

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The sky above was getting full of grey clouds, and during the middle of our tour, we had a little snowfall.
The cold and dry air was hitting our faces, so it made the day significantly chilly.
Ultimately, everyone started shivering with the unbearably cold temperature.
Despite the weather, some of the flowers vividly showed their blooms.

After two hours and a half of touring around certain locations, we concluded the trip at the Hirakawa Bridge, where we were greeted by a splendid view of this historical treasure.

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It was a pleasure to have mutual interactions with visitors and we were able to discuss cultural differences during the tour. The guests were also able to converse among themselves.
In the meantime, we, the guides, were extremely glad to introduce typical things about  Japanese cultures, like food, fashion and habits,  in hopes that their time would be worthwhile.

(By Arac)

Tour Report on 7-January, 2017, Saturday

Happy New Year! Thank you the guests who kindly joined our first 2017 tour on 7th. We had 26 guests, divided by five groups.

We have relatively warm winter this year, so could enjoy Japanese apricot (Ume) blossom already (it usually blooms in February). Thanks to my guests’ suggestion, I smelled the small flower for the first time. It is light scent but I feel such light scent represents Japanese modesty. I strongly recommend you to do; you can touch Japanese elegance.

Japanese consider New Year more important than Christmas. Traditionally, we eat Osechi-ryori (New Year Dishes). They features various types of dishes prepared exclusively for New Year’s packed into special tiered lacquered boxes. After such overeating, we traditionally eat Nanakusa-gayu (rice porridge with seven Japanese herbs) on 7th of January, helping our stomach for digestion and asking for our health in the year. The seven greens represent wishes for each.

  1. Seri: to win the competition
  2. Nazuna: to purify by stroking gently
  3. Gogyo: Buddha’s body
  4. Hakobe: to spread prosperity
  5. Hotoke-no-za: Buddha’s comfortable seat
  6. Suzuna: a bell to call God
  7. Suzu-shiro: pure white without any spot

We are what we eat and think.

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(Posted 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.