Unpredictable typhoon crosses from East to West – July 28, East Garden of the Imperial Palace

Luckily, scorching heat seemed to sooth down after lasting for  20 days.
But what came next was an “unpredictable typoon”.
We fixed our eyes on the weatherforcast anxiously but were  happy to draw a conclusion that we would be able to conduct our tour at the last minute since the storm would not hit us during the tour and the transportation was in usual operation.

Despite such a weather condition,  it was our huge pleasure meeting each of our guests.
We had an AM tour and an PM tour this day and welcomed 24 guests in total.
Thank you for coming from U.S.A., Canada, U.K. Israel, Hungary, Australia, Taiwan.

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As there were not many People on the streets, we were able to rather enjoy the quiet
Marunouchi and Imperial Palace like our private area.
In the middle of  both of our tours, there was  a ‘mad’ rain time for about 20 minutes,
but for the rest, we were able to walk comfortably through the garden without an umbrella.
And more to say, this season, the color of the greenary in the east garden could be a real relief !! Let’s go through the historical area with a lot of greenary, stone walls, and so on.

As the typhoon was predicted to reach Tokyo in the evening,
the famous Sumida River Firework Festival had been postponed to next day.
We felt sorry for our guests whom expected to go to see it but hope everyone was able to
find another activity to replace your entertainment in this wide city of Tokyo.

Every Saturday we look forward to meeting you. On the other hand,  we have to announce that our country is experiencing unusual weather this summer with heavy rain and intensive heat. Please keep your eye on our Facebook for possible changes in our tour schedule.

[Facebook ] Tokyo Free Walking Tour   –> search by texting the next –> @TokyoFWT

(posted by Nori)

24 July 2018, Weekday Tour of The East Garden of The Imperial Palace

Many thanks to our weekday tour guests of 24th July at the East garden of the Imperial palace. We welcomed 8 people from Switzerland, Russia, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, and Israel.
It was a terrible hot weather. Before starting the tour the temperature showed 34 degrees. At first we worried about heat shock in this bad condition, but our tour was much better than we had expected.
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During the tour we chose to do our guiding In the shades, like under the trees or inside a rest house. Fortunately our guests were so positive and energetic. Owing to their active behavior we were able to go up the base part of the main tower of Edo castle. We felt a pleasant wind and enjoyed Marunouchi skyline at the top of base part. We were so happy to have experienced exceptional summer of Japan.
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Speaking of the Japanese summer, The National High School Baseball Championship is one of the highlights of the summer in Japan. Recently Japanese people like football. But Japanese people like baseball from long time ago. Especially The National High School Baseball Championship is very popular in Japan.
Now each region is holding preliminary games. After that the all regional champions participate in The National Championship at The Koshien Stadium in Hyogo prefecture.

The Koshien Stadium is a home to the professional baseball team (Hanshin Tigers’) but is also a mecca for high school baseball players.
If you go to Kansai region, visit The Koshien Stadium to watch the games directly.
If you don’t have much time to visit there, you can watch the games on TV. The championship games will be held from 5 August to 16 August. It is longer than usual.
The passions of young baseball players thrill audiences. Try to watch the games!

Posted by Y.Hino

 

SUMIDA RIVER FIREWORK SHOW IS COMING SOON-22th of July

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in Asakusa.
On the day of our two-guided tours on July 22, we welcomed 31 guests.
Guests came from different regions of the world, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Colombia, India, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland and U.S.A.
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The growing momentum of the scorching heat brought about by the summer season continues to prevail all over Japan.
Some areas in the western side of Japan even experienced the temperature of around 40 degree Celsius.
At Asakusa in Tokyo, the temperature reached 35degree Celsius in the morning and intensified around the time that we started our afternoon tour.
Despite the extreme summertime heat, we were lucky and happy to meet 31 energetic participants who joined our tour.

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We went through the Kaminarimon Gate or the Thunder Gate of the Sensoji Buddhist Temple and made way to the Nakamise Shopping Street. All of the participants were eager to explore Asakusa, however, by the time we concluded our tour at the Asakusa Shinto Shrine, most of the guests seemed exhausted, mainly because of the unbearable temperature.


(Data from Japan Meteorological Agency)
As we have recommended in our previous blog posts, strolling around Asakusa during the nighttime might interest you if you are not fond of going outdoors during the daytime on summer days. Aside from a cooler temperature, you can also explore the district in a different atmosphere at night.
Firework festivals are also outstanding fixtures of the summer nights in Japan.

The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival or Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai in Japanese, is one of the most notable fireworks festivals in Tokyo.
It is an event held annually, held every last Saturday of July, over the Sumida River near Asakusa in Tokyo.
This extravagant event is held to commemorate the Edo period and to convey the atmosphere during those days, when people used to enjoy watching firework near the river.


Initially, this firework event was launched in 1732 to mourn for the lives of the people who have died of famine due to the desperate and critical economic crisis in those days.
At the same time, this event had a crucial role to comfort and encourage the families of the stricken people and it coincided with the re-opening of the Sumida River.
Hanabi or Fireworks are often associated with beauty and fragility because of the short but majestic time it burns in the sky.
For instance, immediately, after we see fireworks launch and explode into the sky, they are instantly gone moments after, leaving behind its loud sound and smoke, before fading away into the dark.

(2018 Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival will be held at 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM on Saturday, July 28)
(By Arac)

21 July 2018, The East Garden of the Imperial Palace

Thanks to all the guests for joining the tour and having a good time with us on 21st July!

We welcomed 34 guests and divided into 3 groups. It was extremely hot, the temperature got over 35 C, so we walked in the shades as much as possible and recommended guests to drink water at every water tap facilities.

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This summer season reminds me of the Bird Man Rally Contest which is held at Lake Biwa of Hikone city in Shiga prefecture. Rule of this contest is to fly by only human power with a  handmade plane, take off from the platform at 1om height (approach length is also 10m). The winner pilot flew 40km!! last year. Though lake Biwa is the biggest lake in Japan, the width of the lake is as short as 40km, so pilot needs to turn his plane at 20km point from the platform to fly more distance. The winner last year succeeded to go back to platform area. It’s first time in this contest.

To fly more distance, location of flight turning point is changed from 20km to 30km this year, so maximum distance becomes 60km! The 41st contest is planned to be held on 28th and 29th July this year, and it would be broadcasted on TV in Aug or Sep. It’s really my pleasure to watch TV program and hope one of pilots fly to 60km.

If you have chance to visit Hikone city or to watch TV program in Japan, don’t miss it!

 (Hikone city has Hikone castle, built in 17th century, designated as national treasure.)

 Please post your feedback in our Facebook or Trip Advisor, and tell your friends your experiance of this tour. We are great happy if your friends join our tour in the future.

 (Reported by Nao)

 

Huge Torii welcomed us with a giant branch , July 15, Meiji Jingu

Thank you very much for joining us even when it was a
very hot day. We appreciate all of our guests whom were  brave enough to
overcome the heat!!
(Actually we could have plenty of shade inside Meiji Jungu to walk around)
We welcomed 17 guests from U.S.A, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Italy, U.K.

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“What is this?”
We were asked by our guests when arriving at the 2nd Torii.
It was also our first time to see a SAKAKI attached to the Oo-torii, and the branch itself looked like a giant ornament to match the size of the huge torii.

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SAKAKI (English name: Cleyera japonica Thunb)is a sacred tree, which has a meaning of  the boundary between gods and humans.
It is said that the the gods dwell in the sharp branches.
Or in Japanese old myth, SAKAKI marks the place where the god exists.

How amazing…,
Each time we visit the Meiji Jingu or Harajuku,
we have a new discovery as our guests!!

Let us share the lasting excitement or surprise with all of you.
We look forward meeting you every other week at Meiji Jungu,
Sunday 10:00 a.m.

(posted by Nori)

FIRES AND QUARRELS WERE THE HIGHLIGHT OF EDO-JULY 14

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace.
On the day of our two-guided tours, 14th of July, we welcomed 38 guests from, India, Canada, Germany, U.K., Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, U.S., Spain, Israel, Philippine and Iran


The temperature rose up to around 35 degrees Celsius and stayed the same or rose even more in the afternoon. We started our two-hour tour from Tokyo Station in this harsh condition.


Tokyo Station was overlooking us, and it also seemed to warmly welcome our tour group, as it always does.
After a fifty-minute walk from Tokyo Station towards the direction of the East Garden of the Imperial Compound, where we were surrounded by the beautiful flora in the well-maintained and truly majestic garden.

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At the Otemon Gate, the main gate of the Edo Castle, our guides usually explain about an ornament to tourists.
This ornament called Shachihoko and is believed to be a guardian and a protector of the castle from fire.
Countless incidents of fire occurrences have been recorded in the town of Edo, both major and minor ones. As this chart explains, some of them are so huge that it has left more than 100,000 casualties and severe damage to the town.
There is even an anecdote that says “Fires and quarrels were the highlights of Edo”.
As this anecdote mentions, dreadful fires and quarreling brought huge inconveniences and even misfortunes but provided some sort of entertainment to people’s lives.
Interestingly, some fire occurrence has somewhat romantic tale.
We would like to share you one of the topics, the story of Yaoya-oshichi.

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In Edo era, from 1603 to 1861, people in Edo city, which was old Tokyo, commonly said that “Fires and Quarrels were the highlights of Edo”.
In other words, there were lots of notable fires and disputes in Edo City.
Under these circumstance, Yaoya Oshichi’s story was made.
Yaoya Oshichi literally meaning “greengrocer Oshichi”, was fourteen years old, and the daughter of a wealthy greengrocer, Tarobei.
They lived in Edo city at the beginning of the Edo period.
Unfortunately, Oshichi was burned at the stakes for committing arson.
Behind this incident, there were a lot of sadness and disparity, which inspired this young woman to drive to arsenal crime.
One day, the Oshichi’s family had their house burned by an accidental fire.
So, they temporally evacuated in some temple while they were reconstructing their new house.
In the evacuation facility, this young woman happened to meet a man, Saemon, and she fell in love with this young guy.
However, the time had come for her to leave there because her new home had already constructed.


After returning to her newly built house, the memories of the young girl were fully dominated by her romantic relationship with her loved one.
As a result, the next year, she set fire to her residence in order to attract Saemon’s attention, thinking she could meet him again if another fire occurred.
This fire was called “Oshichi Fire”, which resulted in around 3500 casualties in Edo city.
It was listed as one of the top ten serious fires in this historical town.
This may sound unbelievable in real life nowadays but throughout the ages, it is true that people can seriously be blinded of love.
This is why this story has been popularized in novels and Kabuki play as a romantic love story.
Nowadays, the soul of Oshichi is enshrines at Enjyoji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo and its memorial event is held annually.
(By Arac)

Night at Asakusa(July 8)

Many thanks for joining our tours in Asakusa on July 8. We welcomed 10 people from Brazil, Australia,Spain,Morocco and Japan. The weather was perfect but extremely hot. Nevertheless, I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us at Sensoji Temple. In the meantime unprecedented torrential rains have pounded the broad parts of western Japan triggering flooding and landslides. Regrettably, a large  number of residents have passed away.

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The Tokyo’s oldest Sensoji Temple has a different face in the evening. The buildings such as Kaminarimon Gate,Nakamise Shopping Street,Hozomon Gate,Pagoda and the main hall are beautifully illuminated until 11pm. Although the main hall is closed at 5pm and the shops around 7pm, visitors are welcomed to enter the precincts at all times. The streets are packed with people in the daytime, but the night is still. It is hard to believe the hustle and bustle in the daytime.
Firstly the rooftop(8F) of Culture and Information Center(open until 10pm) commands a panoramic view of Asakusa. We can see the Japan’s highest Tokyo Sky Tree bathed in light with the height of 634 meters. Also bright color of the temple buildings is stunning. Coming down look at Kaminarimon Gate. The displayed gods of thunder and wind look impressive and striking. The massive lantern, the symbol of Asakusa looks great.

Beyond the gate Nakamise Shopping Street is decorated with the beautiful artworks. In fact it is a street gallery. The history and seasonal events of Asakusa such as Sanja Festival are depicted on the shutters of each shop. It is impossible for the daytime visitors to imagine the superb paintings since the shutters are opened.

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Hozomon treasure gate is the next building. A pair of Nio guardian statues glares at the precincts with intimidating eyes and protects the area from the enemy of Buddha. Also the shining five storied pagoda is seen as the symbol of the temple. You will be moved to see the excellent contrast of light and shadow. A pair of massive waraji(rice straw sandals) is hung on the back of the gate. Such a big man wearing the huge sandal guards the gate. In front of the main hall is the incense burner. The healing smoke drifts up into the air by day. The main hall houses the Kannon Buddhist statue which was found in the river 1400 year ago when the temple was originated. Visitors pray and make a wish at the offertory box of the main hall.

There are a number of photogenic places at Sensoji Temple in the evening. The buildings are beautifully illuminated and there aren’t many visitors. Therefore, it is quieter and you can walk at your own pace, and cool off in the evening around this time in summer. The atmosphere is completely different at night. The bright color of the temple buildings will satisfy you.

(posted by Yoshi)

 

 

7 July 2018, The East Garden of the Imperial Palace

Thank you for joining our tour to Imperial Palace East Garden on July 7th. Please post your feedback in our Facebook (or Trip Advisor) or post your Facebook and tell your friends how you liked our tour. We will be happy if your friends join our tour in the future.

We are happy to have 31 guests from Australia, Austria, France, Argentina, Brazil, Slovakia, Germany, Poland, UK, Indonesia, Netherland, Colombia, Morocco and US.

Today, the guests were divided into 4 groups with two guides in each group. We are very happy to know that some of the guests have joined our Meiji Jingu Shrine & Harajuku Tour last week.

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Japan has many historical destinations. For example, Kyoto or Nara in the western Japan used to be the ancient capitals. They were built more than a thousand years ago, and have many shrines and temples. Even in metropolitan area of Tokyo, you can visit many historical places such as Meiji jingu shrine, Asakusa Senso-ji temple or the Imperial Palace East Garden.

TFWT has tours of these three attractive courses.

Come and join us!

(Asa)

 

 

 

What do you wish upon a star? (July 1st)

We’ve been puzzled over the weird weather since this spring. By the first days of April, cherry blossoms had already gone.  And now, rainy season had ended by the end of  June.  Both happened about two weeks earlier than usual, so surprised!

Anyways, we were grateful that 19 guests from US, Australia, Singapore, Israel, Italy and Spain joined our tour last weekend. It was their first visit to Japan for most of them. I hope they had enjoyed our tour through the Meiji Shrine and Harajuku area.

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At the front of the main pavilion, one of the guests found a bamboo with decoration of colored papers and asked what they are for.

We have ‘Tanabata (七夕)’, a festival of the Weaver Star on July 7th.  It is based on an old Chinese legend, in which the two star lovers separated by the Milky Way meet once a year on this day. People write their wishes on narrow paper tablets and hang them on bamboo leaves with other decorations, extending their prayers to the stars.  These tablets are written by many kids, one of then was written, “I wanna be a animal doctor!”, or the other was “I wanna get more Pokemon!”, so cute!

What do you wish upon the star on July 7th?  Me? Of course, it’s secret!

(Hisako)