Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour. On the day of our two-guided tours, the 25th of November, we welcomed 12 guests from, U.S.A., Canada, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Brazil, and Uzbekistan.
As usual, we started guiding people to Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center in order to see better views of Asakusa areas from its rooftop.
Right after we left the information building, we moved into Sensoji compounds by passing through the famous gates, Kaminariomon Gate (Thunder Gate) and Hozomon Gate (Treasure Gate), and there are vendors lined up called Nakamise Street.
Our tour ended at the Shinto establishment, Asakusa Shinto Shrine.

Just like a picture postcard of town areas, Tokyo Skytree, and its surrounding areas were seen on the backdrop of the blue sky from the rooftop of Asakusa Information building.
The scenery will immediately catch viewers’ attentions. The views often lead Asakusa tourists first to this memory location, which is more adorable than any other sights in this historical town.
It’s no wonder that this historical location, Asakusa, is one of the most remarkable spots in Tokyo.

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December is fast approaching.
This season instantly drives the sense of restless in every household and workplace.
Many people have a strong commitment to finish workloads before the year ends.
Well, we’ll talk about one of the year-end events in Japan, “The Kanji of The Year”
The Kanji of The Year

It’s about time we welcome one of the much-awaited events happening each year, the
Kanji of the Year.
Kanji of the Year is one of the many year-end events that people celebrate, and in this particular event, a distinct kanji character is revealed to the people of Japan.
It is organized by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, an institution that encourages people to enjoy learning kanji characters. They are also responsible for certifying people’s Kanji Proficiency Level in the country.

:———— 2014 “zei”                                          2016 “kin” ————:
(From the website of the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation)
This yearly celebration takes place in Kiyomizu Temple of Kyoto Prefecture, wherein the event organizers announce a specific kanji character that describes the social trends in Japan during the entire year.
This occasion is broadcasted by television stations all over Japan, and is seen as a very exciting moment because a senior monk reveals the selected the kanji  character of the year by creating a calligraphy of it in a huge canvas outside of the temple.
The process of selecting the kanji character for each year is decided through how a kanji character symbolizes the sense of social trends that happened in that year. Various aspects included in social trends are politics, society, entertainment, weather, and other happenings.
For instance, the character “税 (zei)” or tax in English, was selected as 2014’s Kanji of the Year, because it was the first time in 17 years that the government of Japan increased consumption tax from 5% to 8%.
It led to consumers’ immediate purchase before the tax hike.
Consequently, after this tax rise, people were discouraged to buy their ideal items.
Meanwhile, 2016 kanji of the year was determined as the word 金(kin), or gold in English because there a lot of money scandals among cooperate or private sectors in the year.
Additionally, the Japanese athletes won a lot of gold medals in London Olympic game.
This eye-catch calligraphy writing started in 1995 and signifies one of the year-end news in Japan.
We are looking forward to seeing  “The Kanji of The Year 2018”.

(By Arac)


Thank you for joining Tokyo Free Working Tour on Nov.24th.
We welcomed a total of 24 guests from: US(10), Canada(2), UK(1), Spain(2), Tunisia(1), Singapore(4), Manila(2) and Australia(2). Last Saturday was a  bit cloudy and cold but it was still an enjoyable tour course with beautiful  autumn views.

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In some areas of the garden, we could enjoy cherry blossoms. Of course cherry blossom season is in spring but this cherry blooms two times per year. There are lots of special flora and fauna inside the imperial palace, . You also can enjoy special Nishiki-koi (Colored carp) in a  pond in the  Ninomaru area. This carp fish is a hybrid between a long tail fin type from Indonesia and a traditional Japanese  one from Emperor Akihito who is an  ichthyologist. Last week, emperor and empress released 9 hybrid Nishiki-Koi carps in the  pond before stepping down next year.

During the tour, we also could enjoy chatting  with our guests. Sharing time and talking about my country for guests is my one of my motivations to be a volunteer tour guide. This time, one guest said that he lost his JR pass during his stay but in spite of his bad luck he visited many places to climb mountains. I felt sorry for him but he also told me he could enjoy Japan so much so that I was  relieved. Basically, Japan is quite safe and most cases lost property is returned  to the owner.  I lost my smart phone a few times but they came back to me from their trip. Not only my  smart phone but also my JR pass, brand bag etc..! On the other hand, I picked up brand new smart phone on the pedestrian crossing and brought  it to police box last month. It’s normal. So if you find a lost item during your stay in Japan, please take it to the nearest koban/police box for the owner!

Again, imperial palace has a lot of flora and fauna. We guarantee all four season can be enjoyable so please come again and lets chat together in our tour!

(posted by Miyuki)

The leaves on the Japan’s first avenue are turning yellow(November 18)

TFWT appreciate your participation in our tour of Meiji Shrine and Harajuku area on November 18. We welcomed the 21 friendly guests from Spain, Switzerland, Israel, Canada, America, Taiwan and Vietnam. Weather was perfect in the midst of autumn. I hope all of you enjoyed viewing Shichi-go-san(7-5-3) event, chrysanthemum display, wedding procession and changing colors of the leaves with us.

C 集合A group ..B .,,.D ...


Shichi-go-san is an event to pray for the growth of children of three, five and seven years of age around November 15. Boys and girls of three, boys of five and girls of seven are celebrated. Parents as well as children express their gratitude to the deities for their growth and blessing for the future. We saw a girl wearing pretty kimono on the shrine approach. After the purification rituals Chitose Ame(thousand year candy) are given to the children wishing good health and long life. Although there are a few theories, the origin of Shichi-go-san can be traced to the Edo period about 300 years ago. The fifth Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi brought his eldest son to the shrine hoping good health since he was so sickly. In addition Hamaya are the ritual arrows to drive away devils and bring good fortune.

Then we passed Omotesando street. This street used to be the approach to Meiji Shrine and is actually the Japan’s first avenue. Omotesando is also known for the lines of grand zelkova trees. Those leaves are turning yellow and may be the peak of autumn foliage soon. The image of the street changed from the shrine approach to a fashion epicenter in 1970s. Now this area has a number of the internationally famous flagship brand shops. The leaves of the trees will be illuminated in December.
Lots of fun and amusements will satisfy you in Harajuku area. Join us, we are delighted to guide you at Meiji Shrine and Harajuku.

(posted by Yoshi)


Thank  you  for  joining  our  tour  visiting  the  East  Garden  of  the  Imperial  Palace on  November 17th.   We  welcomed  as  many  as  29  people  from  U.S.A.,  Australia,  Singapore,  Italy,  Canada,  Switzerland,   France,   Spain,   India,   and    Nether-land.



Being  a  little  bit   late,   leaves  of  Tokyo  area  begin  to  color  to  yellow  and  red,   and    it  was  very   fine,  comfortable   day.   Scenery  of  these  colored  trees  matches  modern  buildings  and   remains  of  old  Edo  castle  (stone  wall  and  moat  etc)  very  well.


The  circumference  of   Edo  castle  is  said  to  be  6  kilometers   and   all   surrounded   by  stone  walls  and   moats,   and   these  remains   of   the  huge  castle  can  be  seen  in  many  places  near  Imperial    Palace. We   could  enjoy   these  harmonized  scenery  from  the  begging to  the  end  of   our  tour.




Every  time  it  is  a  great   pleasure  for  us   to  welcome   foreign   guests,  and  guide  this  tour.     This    time   there  were  two   guests   who   are   friends   of   one  of   our   guides   and   live   in    New   York.   They  came  Tokyo   and   kindly   join   our  tour ,   met   him  in   their    busy   schedule,  and   cheered  us.

We  were   very   happy  having  been  with  our  guests.    We   appreciate   again,  and   hope  all  of   our  guests  will   have  wonderful  memories.

(posted  by  Shino.)

The very “Imperial Palace” day, 14 November 2018

We thank 12 guests who participated in the tour from USA, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, and U.K. on that day. We divided into 2 groups.





It was a very lucky day for the tour to the imperial palace. Because it was a weekday morning to noon, we could view a very “Imperial Palace” events.

One is Ambassador’s inauguration ceremony at Tokyo Station, where a horse carriage welcomed newly appointed ambassador and took that person to the imperial palace so he could participate in the ceremony meeting with Emperor.


In that morning, 2 ceremonies for 2 ambassadors from Finland and Ireland were held consecutively. The carriage went along with another horse guards. It was almost like European dynasty.

A newly appointed ambassador waited for the horse carriage in the imperial waiting room on 1st floor of the Station Building just right next to Marunouchi central gate, where guides and guests meet every time.  The square in front of Tokyo Station was barricaded and heavily guarded by the station clerks and police.

The other event was held inside the East Garden. The Imperial Brass-Band played instruments on turf in Honmaru area, on which feudal lord castle used to stand. It was a lunch time concert. People enjoyed listening to the music on turf.


These are the events only seen on week days. Our guests could take advantage of a weekday tour.

The season is turning autumn as you can see the color of leaves on the route. It is getting colder so if you wish to participate in the tour this season, please do not forget to wear warming clothes such as jacket, coat or scarf.


Tokyo Free Walking Tour hosts the tour to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace at 1PM every Saturday afternoon but occasionally weekday morning tours are held so please check out our tour calendar page for the weekday tours as well as other tours on Sunday and National holidays.

Tour Report on November 10th

Thank you for joining our tour visiting the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on November 10th. We welcomed 29 people from Hong Kong (7), U.S.A.(6), Australia (4), India (2), Malaysia (1), Russia (1), U.K.(1), Singapore (1), China (1), Pakistan (1) France (1), Romania (1) and Japan (1).


We could enjoy clear blue autumn sky with comfortable temperature. This autumn is a bit warmer than usual, so it is a little bit earlier for us to enjoy autumn leaves. But some of them start to turn yellow and red.

In Japan, November 15 is called “shichi-go-san”, literally “seven-five-three”. It is a festival to celebrate the growth of children. On November 15, or on weekends around that date, girls of seven, boys of five, or both of three are taken to a shrine by their parents to give thanks and pray for a divine blessing and pray for their future growth and happiness. Children are having a colorful oblong paper bag, in which Chitose Ame is given. Chitose Ame literally means “a thousand-year candy” and symbolizes healthy growth and longevity.

(posted by N)


Collecting goshuin in ASAKUSA(November 11)

Thank you for choosing our tour in Asakusa on November 11. We welcomed 12 people from U.S.A., Australia New Zealand and Switzerland.


The weather was sunny and very comfortable. It has become more and more like autumn. I hope all the guests enjoyed walking with us.

It may be part of fun of travel for you to collect stamps when you visit temples or shrines. The red ink seal is called ‘Goshuin’ which is given to the worshipers at a temple or shrine.


Goshuin is obtainable at Yougoudo Hall located in the west of the Main Hall of Sensoji Temple. Yougoudo provides two types of goshuin as shown above photo. You are able to choose either or both. Each stamp costs about 300 to 500 yen. But first, you need a stamp book(Goshuin cho). This is different from a tourist stamp which is offered in most tourist destinations. Stamp books are available at temples, shrines or stationery stores. It cost about 1,000 to 1,500 yen. The stamp book consists of an accordion structure of 20 to 30 papers with a hardcover.

Goshuin used to be granted to the people who donated shakyo or a handwritten copy of the Buddhist sutra to the temple. Shakyo is considered an expression of piety and recognized as a devotional practice. However, the procedures have been simplified and visitors may get a stamp with a monetary offering as the proof or memory of their visit after worshiping.

Nowadays, however, some people rush into the notable temples or shrines just to buy it even without worshiping. Goshuin is sacred and not to buy a seal but to receive it with thanks. In Japan there are about 160,000 shrines and temples and many of them have goshuin for visitors. However, some major temples such as Higashi Honganji and Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto have no goshuin.

Goshuin may become an unforgettable memory of visiting place and be a good souvenir for just yourself. Finding good handwritten calligraphy, you may be able to enjoy seeing the beautiful Chinese character. In addition, stamp books decorated and covered with various design are also attractive. It may be a good idea for you to start collecting goshuin at Sensoji Temple and deepen your knowledge of Japan.


We are looking forward to welcoming you and sharing the Japanese culture with you at our tour.

(posted by Kuma)

Tour Report on November 6th



Thank  you  for  joining  our  tour  visiting  the  East  Garden  of  the  Imperial  Palace on  November  6th.  We  welcomed  9 people  from Germany, Argentina, Italy and  Singapore.

In  this  season,  leaves  of  Tokyo  area  begin  to  color  to  yellow  and  red.  Scenery  of  these  colored  trees  matches  modern  buildings  and   remains  of  old  castle  (stone  wall  and  moat  etc)  very  well.

We   could  enjoy   these  harmonized  scenery  in  spite  of  unexpected   rain  (in  the  latter  half  of  this  tour)   which  is   not  as  usual  in  Japanese  autumn.


11_06_group_B_IMG_2013 (1)

IMG_6436 (1)


Every  time  it  is  a  great   pleasure  for  us   to  welcome   foreign   guests,  and  guide  this  tour.     This    time   especially   our   guests   cheered  us  although   we  were  sorry  to  have  guided  them  in  the  rain  in  the  latter   half.     We  could  spend  joyful  time  having  been  with  our  gusts.    We   appreciate   again,  and   hope  all  of   our  guests  will   have  wonderful  memories.

(posted  by  Shino.)

The Chrysanthemum and Meiji Jingu & Harajuku Tour, 4 November 2018

Many thanks to people who participated in the tour. On that day we welcomed 17 guests from US, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Belgium, and Venezuela. We divided into 3 groups. It was a very mild day although slightly rained later in the morning.

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There was a special event on the Meiji Jingu Shrine that pleased our guests. Exhibition of the chrysanthemum.

Beautiful chrysanthemum flowers shown on the corridor and inside the main pavilion square attracted so many visitors there. Each one was well-taken care of by planters who pride themselves with their artistic forming of the flowers. We call the flowers, Kiku. What is significant of the chrysanthemum is the flowers are Japan’s national flower. You might think cherry blossom is the one but it is only seen in spring. But chrysanthemum is what you see all year around.

Chrysanthemum is used as emblem for the imperial family as you see on the top of Torii gate of the shrine.

It is also known to be a symbol of Japanese aestheticism which was described in renowned classic cultural anthropology book titled “The Chrysanthemum and the sword” on which the author, Ruth Benedict described as “a nation with a popular cult of aestheticism which gives high honor to actors and to artists and lavishes art upon the cultivation of chrysanthemum” in contrast with Samurai’s sword.

When someone dies, people bring chrysanthemums to funerals or graves to offer condolence. The chrysanthemums are most familiar flowers in our daily life.

When you see chrysanthemum somewhere, please remember Japanese way of art and life.




Thank you for joining our tour visiting the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on November 3rd. We welcomed 23 people from U.S.A., Canada, Philippines, UK, Italy and Australia.

We could enjoy clear blue autumn sky with comfortable temperature. This autumn is a little bit warmer than usual and it should enable us to enjoy autumn yellow leaves longer.

The day was a National Holiday named “Bunka-no-Hi”, which translates as “Culture Day” today. Originally, the day was the birthday of Emperor “Meiji”, Great-grandfather of current Emperor. The event on this “Culture Day” is to award this year’s “Order of Cultural Merit” by the Emperor. The ceremony was held at Imperial Palace inviting five recipients of this year, who contributed a lot to Japanese culture, probably during the time we were strolling around East Garden!!

This ceremony has become the final one provided by current Emperor, because he will retire at the end of next April. Therefore, the ceremony should have been more impressive for the recipients than usual.

Anyway, every time, it is a great pleasure for us to guide this tour, and enjoy conversation with guests including a lot of questions and answers. We really hope all of guests enjoyed the tour and remember wonderful memories.
(posted by Masao)