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27 JUNE 2018, Weekday Morning tour to The East Garden of the Imperial Palace

  • 2018.06.29

Thank you for joining our walking tour to Imperial Palace East Gardens on June 27th. We were so happy to have met all 16 guests from Canada,U.S.A.,Belgium,Georgia,and Australia. The guests were divided into 4 groups with few of our guides in each group. This day was a weekday, so the garden was more peaceful and quiet than on weekends. It was a hot and windy day. But all of us enjoyed the tour.       A guest from U.S.A told me that he bought ONIGIRI for snack at a convenience store almost every day. ONIGIRI is “rice ball” which is a Japanese food made from white rice, seaweed and fillings. There are a variety of ONIGIRI fillings and flavors such as pickled plum, salted salmon or tuna(bonito flakes) with mayonnaise,and leaf mustard. Major convenience stores in Japan (Seven-eleven, LAWSON, FamilyMart and more) provide many kinds of ONIGIRI. Please try some ONIGIRI in Japan. I recommend UME (UMEBOSHI) ONIGIRI, which is filled with small red round pickled plum that is very salty and sour . You will be surprised when you eat it for the first time. Please eat little by little with rice. UMEBOSHI is effective for summer exhaustion […]

Tour Report on June 23th at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

  • 2018.06.25

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour on June 23th. On the day of two tours, we welcomed 35 guests from 8 countries on our morning tour. The weather was recently weird in Japan, with it changing between sunny, cloudy, and rainy weather. Although the weather of this day was cloudy with partly rain, all of us enjoyed talking and walking during the tour. Strolling around the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace is also great for rainy days. A sunny day is absolutely the best time to visit, but the garden could be full of quiet atmosphere due to the stillness of the rain. Moreover, the flowers, like hydrangea, looks best in the rain. Wherever you go on a rainy day in Japan, you can enjoy it. Japanese have devised the way of enjoying the four seasons for a long period of time. Sen no Rikiyu, the most famous tea ceremony master, introduced seven rules of tea ceremony to his disciples when he was asked what the tea ceremony was like. One rule was to provide coolness in summer and warmth in winter. Rikyu not only developed Japanese culture but also did not forget consideration for others. I […]

Thinking “How one becomes a monk” at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa on 24 June

  • 2018.06.25

Many thanks to guests who joined the morning and afternoon tours on that day. On that day we welcomed total of 10 guests from USA, Canada, France, Spain, and Sweden. The two tours were in contrast of weather. In the morning time, it was rainy and cold but in the afternoon it turned sunny and hot. As we explain to our guests, Sensoji Temple is a Buddhist temple, established in 7th century. It was a time Buddhism arrived in Japan from China. Buddhism was originated in India. But as it was passed onto other nations, style and some of teachings were altered to adopt itself to local societies. So Japan’s Buddhism is different from those in other countries. There are several denominations in Buddhism like Christianity has Catholics and Protestant. Sensoji belongs to Tendai denomination originally but today the temple claims their own independent denomination. At a temple, monks are working for others like pastors in Christianity, Imam in Islam or Rabbi in Judaism. They pray inside temples for those who need salvation. For funerals monks visit people’s residences to pray for the dead so that souls of the dead can reach the heaven peacefully. How one becomes a monk […]


  • 2018.06.19

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour. One day during the rainy season in Tokyo, we had a cloudy sky and a ray of sunshine. On that same day, 17th of June, we welcomed 15 guests from, U.S.A., Australia, Argentina Singapore, Italy and Germany in front of Torii, or the Shinto Shrine gate, -the Meiji Shinto Shrine in Harajaku. The weather condition didn’t hinder the people to explore and feel the freshness of the mysterious tunnel made by more than 100,000 trees in the Shinto shrine ground. While looking around the woods in the shrine compound, we saw some moisture still descending from the trees above us. We enjoyed witnessing a few Japanese traditional events while strolling in the Shrine compound. We were able to watch the demonstration of wagashi-making, or making of Japanese traditional sweets. The other event was a Japanese traditional wedding ceremony. Both of the events fully attracted the guests’ attention and became subjects of their photos. Our guides normally introduce to the guests the distinctive events on the spot. Interestingly, there was another event held in this sacred area at the same time. The kyudo competition, or also known as Japanese archery competition was […]

Welcome to “Nippon” or “Nihon” 16 JUNE 2018 tour report

  • 2018.06.18

Many thanks to the guests who joined the regular afternoon tour to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on that day. We welcomed over 30 people from many countries including U.K. Italy, Croatia, Australia, USA, Spain, Columbia and Israel.  We divided into 3 groups. It was a very cloudy day. Since clouds shaded sunlight, the temperature was below 20 centigrade, which was like a early-spring time. That was unusual in this time of a year and good for tourists since Japan’s summer, especially rainy summer time in June is terrible because of high temperature and high humidity by lots of rain. People get much moist in the air. Then in July and August, strong sunlight, heat wave and humidity hurt people. From this weekend, Soccer World Cup tournament has been held in Russia. Japan is one of contestants. Our tour is like World Cup since people from various countries including the contestants joined and could talk about the tournament. We enjoyed talking about the World Cup. At some bars in Tokyo, soccer fans gather to watch games on TV drinking beer. Some bars charge customers just for entering to watch TV when a tournament is Japan vs. other because […]


  • 2018.06.11

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour. On the day of our two-guided tours, 10th of June, we welcomed 13 guests from, U.S.A. Australia, Canada, and Denmark. A rainy and overcast weather condition prevailed and las­ted the entire day all over Tokyo. The sky was glo­omy and gray, partic­ularly during the da­y, in many parts of Tokyo, and one of the th­ese places was Asakus­a. Overlooking the enti­re Asakusa district from the rooftop of the Asakusa Informat­ion Center, we saw Tokyo Skytree standing appealingly against the backdrop of a gr­ay sky. The top, covered by clouds, seemed invisib­le to the viewers, wh­ile the rest of its parts reflected the gr­ay color of the clou­dy sky. It is a typical atmo­sphere that people experience especially during the wet seas­on in Japan, which usually starts early in the month of June and lasts until the beginning of July. Regardless of the ci­rcumstances, we welcomed 13 Asakusa enthusiasts in front of the Thunder Gate, the entrance to the Asakusa Buddh­ist Temple compound. Starting from the di­stinct Buddhist temp­le gate, we eventual­ly moved into the 25­0-meter long shopping street, called Nakamise street. As we have introduced Nakamise Street on our previous blog […]

Emperor and Empress at Tokyo station

  • 2018.06.10

“Early bird catches the worm.” Now I can prove, this is definitely true. On this morning(June 9th), we welcomed guests from Israel, Indonesia, India and USA.  We could just share the unforgettable time and encounter with Their Magesties. Thanks to our wonderful 5 guests!! “ Can you see the central entrance of the Tokyo station? This is the entrance for the Imperial family use.” “A street called ‘Gyoko-dori’ is located just in front of the Tokyo station Marunouchi -side. It is the straight and shortest path which takes you to the front of the Imperial palace.” “‘GYOKO’ means the official visit for the imperior and ‘Dori’ means the path, so ‘GYOKO-dori’ means the path for the imperior when going out to make an official visit to somewhere”. These are the kind of ways we always try to explain about the royal part of the station and path.  But…who could imagine that a day would actually come to face this entire situation?  A sudden opportunity to meet the royal highness on our very familiar guide route… This day, their Majesties the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were to embark from this Tokyo station to attend the National Arbor Day held in […]

No more Sakura, but another beautiful flowers here in Tokyo

  • 2018.06.10

Thank you for the guests who kindly joined our afternoon tour on 9th of June. We had 19 guests from six countries, divided into three groups.   I do this guide volunteering from several years, and believed I’ve known well the area which has beautiful flower or the best season to see them. However, it was false. I was arrogant. Thanks to one of our guest’s suggestion, I saw a beautiful big Magnolia flower on the tour route for the first time on last Saturday. It boomed beautifully, solemnly, and its sweet smell made us happy. Cherry blossoms season is over, but we still at a best season to see beautiful flowers in Tokyo. For example, you can enjoy beautiful irises at Ninomaru Park here in our tour. Speaking of iris, I went to another famous iris garden last weekend. It was Horikiri Iris Garden in Katsushika-ku. One of famous Ukiyoe painters in Edo era, Hiroshige Utagawa (1797-1858), drew an Ukiyoe paint under the theme an iris at that garden. This park is also free entrance.   We have rainy season: usually starts from early Jun and ends around late July. Most Japanese doesn’t like such rainy season, but I […]

Tour Report on June 3 at Meiji Shrine and Harajuku

  • 2018.06.04

I sincerely thank you for taking the time for joining the tour to Meiji Shrine and Harajuku on June 3. We had nine guests from the various countries of Canada,America,Mexico,Columbia,Chile,UK and Philippines.  Four of the guests had participated in our tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on the previous day which we appreciate very much. The weather was perfect on this day prior to the rainy season. I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us. As you might have been guided, Harajuku Station is the Tokyo’s oldest wooden station, the gateway to Meiji Shrine/Takeshita Street and the symbol of Harajuku. The landscape is lovely with a little turret on the roof, the wooden beams on the walls and the old but artistic clock. It is regrettable that this beautiful building may be demolished. Current Harajuku Station was constructed in 1924 shortly after Meiji Shrine had been built. It was the year after the Great Kanto Earthquake. During WW2 the building was not destroyed by the airbombings and survives in its original form for nearly 100 years. This is half-timbered or the Tudor style often seen in the British countrysides. Not many people know that there is […]

On Bushido, or the Samurai Way (June 2nd)

  • 2018.06.03

It was a pleasant day just before the start of the rain season. I had just finished sharing the story of the 47 samurais who willingly gave up their lives for the honor of their master. A guest from the UK asked a question – “When did such ideals of the samurai way come about? Is such mentality still common in the society?” There is a perfect book on this subject. It is Bushido: The Soul of Japan, originally written in English in 1899 (text available online). The book was written by the Japanese educator Inazo Nitobe, and is his response to a question he received from his Belgian friend – what is the moral backbone of the Japanese people? In the book Nitobe elaborates on how the virtues of his time actually derives from the code of the samurai warriors that was refined through the history of Japan. He draws historical examples of acts and deeds typically praised in bushido, or the samurai way. In the end he concludes that although the samurais are gone, the mentality is deeply rooted in the people and the society. Going back to answer the second part of the original question, I think yes, the mentality still lives on even a century after Nitobe wrote Bushido. We sometimes relate ourselves to samurais as a symbol of courage […]