WHAT IS THE THUNDER PAPA? –ASAKUSA, THE 23RD OF SEPTEMBER

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in Asakusa.
On the day of our two-guided tours, on the 23rd of September, we welcomed 20 guests on our walking tour.
Guests were from different regions of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Czech France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, and U.S.A.
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After a humid and scorching weather, the summer season is finally over and the autumn season has now entered without noticing it.
Speaking of the autumn season, it normally intensifies our sense of melancholy.
In the rural areas of Tokyo, most of the vibrant green paddy fields are now gradually turning into gold color.
The appearance of riots of seasonal insects like red dragon flies in parks and fields clearly signify the Autumn season.
Additionally, an excess number of typhoons have been frequently hindering our outdoor activities and plans.
All of these show the real arrival of the autumn season in Japan.


Even in the changes in our surroundings, we can still feel the atmosphere of the summer season as we were able to meet the 20 energetic visitors of Asakusa areas.

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After overlooking the entire Asakusa district from the rooftop of the Asakusa Information Center, we moved to a gorgeous gate called Kaminarimon Gate, or a thunder gate in English.
This red-painted gate is the entrance of the compound of Sensoji Buddhist Temple
The picture of Kaminarimon Gate is frequently used on the cover of the Japanese guide books.
In addition, these printed images are also seen on the packages of Japanese souvenirs.
This time we would like to talk about the thunder and its related topic, the “thunder papa”.


—The “Thunder Papa”—
In the past, when it came to the topic of discussing fears, the top sources of fear among Japanese people were usually earthquakes, thunder, fire, and “papa”.
Obviously, we’ve had countless earthquakes since the ancient times, and some of them have caused catastrophic destructions to our country. Likewise, accidental disasters like fire, and natural phenomenon like thunderstorms have damaged lands, properties, and lives of people.
Even now, these occurrences are still continually considered as threats in our lives, and are normally a source of fear.
Ranking among these destructive phenomena as a great source of fear is “papa”.
Well, what is papa and what does it look like, then?
Is papa disastrous?
To simply put it, papa is father. In the past, papa had a great presence in his family’s life and this presence can be associated to the thunder.
Fathers with this kind of parenting style were called a “thunder papa”. This is because, like thunder, papa strikes fear and is quite intimidating to children.
The “thunder papa” uses discipline to supervise his children and also other children in the community.
With their fatherly style, the thunder papas strictly had their children educated and guided to the right direction, and they also believe in not indulging their beloved children at all times.
In the present generation, the characteristics of the thunder papa can only be seen rarely among fathers, because it seems that papas nowadays have become slightly lenient towards their families.
However, in Asakusa, the imagery of the thunder resides at the entrance of the Buddhist temple like the “thunder papa” to secure all visitors and to protect this sacred temple.

(By Arac)

Tour Report of Sep.22,2018 – East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

Today we welcomed 24 guests from US, Germany, Argentina, Israel, Malaysia, Italy, France, Australia and Denmark.
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Sep.22 happens to be the first day of a long day holiday as well as the day before equinox day. It is said that neither the heat nor cold lasts beyond the equinox day, meaning that we will be released from the humid & heat anytime soon.
In our tour, we guides try our best to provide you with information on history and cultures of Tokyo and Japan in general.It is also a great chance for guests to mingle with other guests and exchange their travel experiences.
At the end of the day, I think everyone enjoyed the pleasant walk in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.

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Some guests may have gotten the chance to catch the Tokyo Game Show 2018 on the next day. The Tokyo Game Show is one of the top game shows in the world, where major gaming companies participate to present their latest games and technologies. You get to try the games at each booth but need to queue up early in the morning in order to
beat the others to the game you aim at.
Others come to this event each year to see the gathering of cosplayers.
A big thank you to every single guest for joining today.
We wish you all a safe stay during your stay in Japan.
Be the next to join the friendly guides on the Tokyo Free Walking Tour.
Report by Asako

THE WEEKDAY TOUR FOR THE EAST GARDENS OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE (SEP.19,2018)

Thank you so much for joining our weekday tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on Sep. 19th. We are very happy to have 11 guests from Israel, USA, Spain, France and India. The weather was very nice. We hope all of you enjoyed the tour!

We started the tour at 10 am from Tokyo Station. We unexpectedly saw the horse carriage parade there two times today. Newly appointed ambassadors (from Senegal and Qatar) were on a horse carriage on their way from the Gyoko-dori Avenue to the Imperial Palace, to see the Emperor to present credentials. We were very lucky to see the parade!

Now it is the beginning of autumn, which is the harvest season with delicious food, and its comfortable climate is good for playing sports. Around the Imperial Palace you can see many people jogging. Along the pathway (about 5 km) there are gates which lead to the Imperial Palace in several places, but there are no traffic lights at all. Therefore it is an ideal course for jogging! Also it is the most relaxing spot in Tokyo. From the sidewalk you can enjoy the great views of the palace surrounded by nature, such as moats, stone walls, trees and flowers. So it is one of the most popular running spots in Tokyo.

We have to follow manners when using the sidewalk along the Imperial palace.

  1. Priority is given to pedestrians.
  2. Large groups should not spread or block footpath.
  3. Be prepared to walk in single file on narrow roads.
  4. Walk or run counterclockwise.
  5. Don’t run too fast.
  6. Stop listening to music, or checking your mobile while walking or running.
  7. Bicyclists must slow down.
  8. Take your trash home.
  9. Be considerate.

If you look down on the sidewalk, you can find many beautiful tiles. There are 50 tiles of flowers on the sidewalk every 100 meters, and we can easily know the distance. The tiles are called “the circle of flowers”. On each tile, symbolic flowers of 47 prefectures and Chiyoda city are depicted. It is really interesting!

Why don’t you try walking or running while enjoying beautiful scenery and finding interesting things around the Imperial Palace?

(posted by Kaori)

 

 

Tour Report of Meiji shrine -Harajyuku on September 16th

Thank you for joining our tour today. Today we welcomed 13 guests from many countries.

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Now we are in the middle of September. Hot summer has gone by and the weather is gradually shifting to autumn. Soon Japan will enter the best season for travelling. Please come and join our tour.
Now let me get back to today’s tour topic ( Meiji shrine-Harajyuku ) . Today’s topic is about a torii  which has inseperable with a shrine.  The  first torii of Meiji shrine is the gathering place of our tour. When Japanese see this torii, most Japanese think a shrine is close by.

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And also Japanese feel a little tense ,because they  know they are entering into  sacred world. Torii is said to be the border between the present world and the sacred world.

And there are some theories regarding origin of Torii. Here, let me introduce you  one of the theories. Since many years ago  bird is said to be messenger of god. When it descends from the heaven, it temporary stays on a perch , and this perch has changed to the present torii and has been for many years. I owe it to you decide whether this theory is true or not. I guess that only god may know the truth.

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Thank you for joining our tour today. We hope all of you will have a good day,and safety in Japan. And see you again.

(posted  by  Masahiko-Sato)

Kamakura Emaki masterpiece(September 15)

Thank you so much for joining our tour at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on September 15. I sincerely appreciate the participation of the 22 friendly guests from UK, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Israel, South Africa, Canada, America, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Singapore. It was partly rainy and cloudy. Nevertheless, I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us and perhaps got the chance to wear the instant kimono afterwards as well.

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As some of you may be aware there is a small museum which displays Imperial collections (Sannomaru Shozokan)at the East Gardens on our tour route near Otemon gate. They have nearly 10,000 priceless treasures such as the pictures and art products which have been inherited as the Imperial collection for a long time. Some of them are considered as national treasure. Visiting inside the museum is not included in our tour.

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The current exhibition is the masterpiece of picture scrolls(Emaki) of the Kamakura period(1185-1333). All of the Emaki were produced by Yamato-e techniques(classical decorative Japan style paintings) composed of illustrated scrolls of scenes or stories on a long screen in a horizontal direction made up of many sheets of papers or silk cloth. The words and paintings are colorful,exquisite and superb. These scrolls are important illustrated documents containing valuable information. Indeed, they have the artistic values as well as historic significance in knowing folklore materials and the people’s costumes at that time as a form of genre painting. These arts are almost completely preserved in the original states in spite of the passing of a long time.

The Kamakura Emaki scrolls were depicted by the Imperial painters and offered to Kasugataisha Shrine in Nara which kept as a treasure. Then after the aristocratic family’s possession, they were presented to the Imperial court in the Meiji period about 150 years ago. Since then,the Imperial Family had been holding and protected them as a masterpiece. After the long-term restoration works the illustrated scrolls are now on display. Incidentally a series of the Emaki is composed of 20 volumes and change between two terms during the showing period(August 18 and October 21).

 

The art products held by the Imperial Family were donated to the government in 1989 when the Emperor Showa (father of the current emperor) passed away. This museum was open in 1993 as a facility to preserve,study and display those collections.
The museum is small but the inside is great. It is worthwhile to visit once when you visit the Imperial Palace. Please be careful of the opening time/hours. It’s closed on Monday and Friday. Opening hours are 9:00am to 4:15pm (last entry is 4:00pm). Check the schedule more precisely with HP of the Imperial Household Agency.

Depending upon how you watch the works, you may be able to finish watching in a short time. It is possible to visit this museum for quick look after our tour. Free admission!!!

(posted by Yoshi)

TOUR REPORT ON September 9, 2018 IN ASAKUSA

Thank all the guests for joining our tours on September 9 in Asakusa. We welcomed 16 guests from Israel, Australia, Taiwan, Vietnam and U.S.A. It was nice weather, but very hot and humid despite September. Nevertheless, I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us.

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September 9 is Disaster Prevention Day.That day means 9 (kyu) for September and 9 (kyu) for 9th day. Indeed it’s a pun of ‘kyu-kyu’ representing emergency in Japanese. This is to deepen the correct understanding and awareness of emergency medical care and services among the citizens. It was established in 1982 by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Hence, we saw the ambulance vehicle for demonstration between the Sensoji Temple main hall and Asakusa Shrine. As Japan tends to be geographically damaged by natural disasters, people’s interest in calamity prevention increases every year.

As some of you may notice, there are various types of komainu(stone guardian dogs) in Asakusa Shrine. On the main approach there is a pair of komainu. Komainu is unique to a shrine and an imaginary creature protecting the area from the evils. In addition there is another komainu right after the entrance silently laid aside on the right. This is a cute couple standing close to each other and sharing a red umbrella. As it is believed that praying to this komainu  ensures to make a good match and happy marriage. Thus, many couples come to meet with this charming couple hoping to fulfill the love. They are small statues which can easily be missed.

When you visit Asakusa Shrine, please look for the beautiful couple in the precincts.

We are looking forward to walking with you in our tours in Asakusa soon.

 

(posted by Nissy)

The Saturday Tour for the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace (Sep. 9, 2018)

Thank you so much for joining our regular tour on Sep. 9th.  There were 15 guests from Germany, Canada, Philippines, Spain, Israel, and the US, and divided into three groups.

It was a sunny and hot day like a summer coming back again.  Everyone looked tired a little bit, so we tried to have a break sometimes in the shade, with a drink or an ice cream, ha ha!  We also welcomed a one-day trainee student as a guide from a high school in Tokyo.  She felt nervous because that was her first experience as a guide, but she enjoyed a lot.  We hope that she will come back to our group someday!

One of the couple said they were spending there time in Japan as their honeymoon.  How amazing! I would like you to enjoy those pictures for your memory, and we are always waiting for your second visit someday, thank you everyone.

(reported by Hisako)

Tour Report on September 2 MeijiJingu and Harajuku

Today in Tokyo it was raining and temporally  heavily. We are grateful for our nine guests from all over the world who joined, regardless of the bad weather conditions.

 

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Meiji Shrine is famous for its religious  meaning, but I think Meiji Shrine has another aspect. Let me introduce.

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In Meiji Shrine Meiji Emperor and Shoken  Empress spirits are enshrined. And this year our country has welcomed 150 year anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. Meiji Restoration means the change from ‘samurai’ warrior’ governing system to democratic governing system. And Meiji Emperor was the first emperor ofthe new era. And at the beginning  of the Meiji period, Meiji Emperor declared the 5 pledges to the world. Along this approach to the main hall the signboard where the 5 pledges are written is built.

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Simply speaking , the content of this 5 pledges is as follows;

We must carry out discussions, and all politics decisions must be decided by public opinion.

We should abolish bad old traditions of the feudal period, and we should absorb advanced knowledge, culture from foreign countries. Meiji Shrine is the good place for us to remind the beginning of democracy.

Thank you for your joining  our tour today, we hope all of you will have a good day in Japan.

( posted  by  Masahiko.Sato )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAYING GOOD-BYE TO 2018 SUMMER-THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE(SEPT. 1ST)

We would like to appreciate all of those who were energetic enough to join our tour this afternoon. We meet 12 guests from U.S.A., Canada, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Philippines.
Although there were thick clouds in the sky, the weather cooperated with us. We could almost do without our umbrella!!

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Just like other countries, this summer was “a tough experience” for us. The heat went up so high with continuous typhoons… but we could find some elements of  the upcoming autumn this day. The trees in the orchard garden was preparing to have fruits,  plants (which were evergreen coloured) covering the moat had been withered and the chirping cicadas sounded like they do not want the summer to leave. Feeling the changing season in nature is always a joy.  It might be the season to say Good-bye to summer and Hello to early autumn. Let’s share precious moments of the splendid garden together.  We are always  awaiting  for your participation!!

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(posted by Nori)