Tour report on July 22, 2017

Thank you so much for choosing our tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on July 22. It was fantastic weather but very hot. Nevertheless I hope you could walk over to the shade and enjoyed the tour. The number of participants were 37 from 16 countries.

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Some people may not be aware that there was a sophisticated Noh theater at the front area of the main compound of Edo Palace and most Shoguns(leaders) loved and patronized Noh during the Edo period. Noh means skill or talent and is the oldest form of theater mixing music, dance and drama completed in the 14th century by the men named Kan’ami and his son Ze’ami 200 years before Kabuki, and continues almost in the same manners and language until this day. It was unfortunate that Ze’ami was exiled to Sado island for an unknown reason.

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( photo:Sado Tourism Association)

The Edo Shoguns made Noh its official ceremonial art on the auspicious occasions such as the inauguration of Shogun, weddings and the birth of its successors. The 5th Shogun Tsunayoshi is well-known for its great lover. Moreover, some Daimyos(Feudal lords) had a Noh theater at their Edo residences. So Noh was the exclusive art of the samurai class in contrast with Kabuki for commoners.
Noh is an artistic stage entertainment of dancing in the chorus and to the accompaniment of instruments of drums and a flute. The act of moving isn’t quick and words are poetic. Stories are usually solemn or sad which are drawn from the past events or a classical book. Traditionally the performers are mostly by men.

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(photo: Sado Tourism Association)

One key character is the Shite, a principal figure wearing a finely carved wooden mask and the body motion instead of the facial action is specially emphasized. Shite acts as a god, a demon or a living human.
After the Edo period was over, Noh lost the patrons and faced difficult times but survives flourishingly with the efforts of the participants in recent decades.
Let’s get together at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace and share the Japanese culture and history with us.

(posted by Yoshi)

Tour report on Monday, July 17th, Asakuasa

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Thank you for joining Tokyo Free Walking Tour for Asakusa area. Around one year has already passed since this Asakusa strolling started regularly.

 

On that day, we welcomed around 17 guests from USA, Canada, Spain, and Italy.
July 17 was a hot and humid day, and at the time we were about to start the tour at around 10:00 am, the temperature had already reached 30 degrees Celsius.

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Normally, we visit seven spots in this historical town and conclude at Asakusa Shinto Shrine.

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Here are one of the topics, “Shimenawa & Shide”, characterizing Shintoism and Shinto shrines.

Shimenawa is a sacred rope and is made of rice straw, which is bundled and technically woven twisted.
It is used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion.
Normally, this rope is attached to a zigzag-shaped paper streamer called Shide.
Both Shimenawa and Shide are used as symbols of the boundary indicating between the sanctuary and our world.

On the other hand, they are used to decorate notable objects like stones, tree, and other sacred things.
It’s believed that deities reside in the locations and give solace to visitors.
Aside from that, these Shinto decorations are used in ceremonies in hope of having deities’ favors.
For instance, these holy ropes are set up at the groundbreaking ceremony before the construction of a new building begins.
It purifies the area and the buildings and hopes for the deities’ protection from natural disasters.

 

Moreover, these twisted ropes are seen in Sumo wrestling.5

Only the Yokozuna, the grand champion wrestlers, are allowed to wear this majestic rope around their waists on their entrance to the Dohyo, the sumo ring.
This is because Yokozuna should not only be strong but full of dignity and be respected almost like the deities.

(By Arac)

 

 

Tour Report on July 15, 2017

Thank you all the guests for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour. We are honored to have around 15 guests from the different corners of the world like Belgium, Hungary, and the U.S. We divided into 5 groups and took group photos below.

It was so hot that a various kinds of living things in East Garden of the Imperial Palace as well as people were bathing in the sun and feeling oppressed by the heat.

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Which spot or topic was the most exciting or impressive for you? The number of residence in Marunouchi? A professional spy,”Ninja” and a throwing knife? The movie, 47 Ronin? Wearing instant kimono?


Although it was a tour in the unbearable heat, we hope all of you enjoyed the tour.
Lastly, we wish you all a safe and wonderful stay in Japan.

P.S. Now in Japan, we can have fancy shaved ice and feel cool at some cafes!! How about trying Japanese shaved ice?

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(Posted by A. Kuno)

Tour Report on July 8, 2017

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour. We are honored to have around 60 people from the different corners of the world come and join this tour. All of the participants were split into six groups and the tour was started.
July 8 was a hot and humid day and at the time we were about to start the tour at around 1 in the afternoon, the temperature had already reached 30 degrees Celsius.

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This day truly characterized what a typical summer day is in Japan and it is predicted that the heat index, especially in cities, would be higher in the month of August.

 

 

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Our guides were very responsive and engaging all throughout the tour.

Halfway through our walking tour, we arrived at a refreshment stand, where certain beverages and treats were available for the guests and guides to comfort and refresh us from the humid and tiring walk.
One of the treats that was a hit among the guests was the matcha-flavored ice cream.
It is a kind of green tea flavored ice cream that promptly attracted the guests’ taste buds.

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Machiya ice cream 

Finally, we concluded our two and a half hours intensive but educational strolling at 3:30 in the afternoon at the Hirakawa-mon Gate of the Old Edo Castle.


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Well, here were the reports and notifications for your safe tour in time of coming Japan.
Four days ago, on July 4, Tuesday, heavy rain hit the northern part of Kyushu region, which is in the southern part of Japan. This heavy rain brought about unforeseen catastrophe like flooding and landslides, which left many casualties and missing people on its wake. Reportedly, this was the first time that this calamity ever hit the region.
A few days after the incident, the affected people in the disaster-stricken areas are still having trouble going back to their normal lives, having their life lines disrupted by the disaster. They are also finding it difficult to look for an alternative home under the high calamity alert.

It’s reasonably important to check the local weather forecast of your potential destination in advance, before heading out to these places, in order to address the difficulty posed by the unpredictable climate.

 This is to make sure that you will have an enjoyable time in Japan.

By Arac

Tour Report on July 1, 2017

Today we welcomed 43 guests from Iceland, USA, Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Germany, Vietnam, Poland, Mexico, Russia and Lithuania.

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Japan is in the midst of the rainy season, which is expected to last until end July.
With the high humidity and stickiness, this time is said to be the most hated season among Japanese. But looking at the bright side, this is the time when we could enjoy the bright colored iris & hydrangeas pop in the gloomy sky.
Today I was asked by some guests the reason why it is not easy to find a trash bin on the streets of Japan. After browsing through some local authority websites, I have learned that many bins were taken off the streets since year 2001 due to below reasons.
1. Increase of people dumping household wastes
2. Increase of illegal dumping
3. Stray cats & crows pick through trash
4. Cost increase of trash bin management due to above 1.-3
5. Counter terrorism (as a result of a Japanese cult attack in 1994, the  9.11 attach in US 2001 )
None are positive… Although some local authorities are trying to bring the bins back on the streets, it looks like we must carry back our trash for the time being.

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Thank you to all of our guests today. We hope you enjoyed the tour and wish everyone a safe and an exciting stay in Japan. Please also enjoy the sunny spell as much as possible.
Looking for something cultural to do in Tokyo?
Be the next to explore the ruins of Edo Castle with our friendly guides on Tokyo Free Walking Tour.
(Report by Asako)
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Tokyo Free Walking Tour has regular tours every Saturday and has irregular tours in weekdays and Sundays.
If you are in Tokyo, why not come and join us?
Visit our website, Facebook and tripadvisor for the latest schedule!