TOUR REPORT ON FEB 16, 2019(THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE)

Thank you for joining our tour to the East garden of the Imperial Palace on Feb. 16th. We welcomed 15 guests from Australia, USA, UK, Argentina and Spain. Weather condition was almost perfect for the tour. It was fine, no wind and sunshine was warm. Some guests took off their coats during the tour. At the street between the Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace we found two couples wearing wedding dress for taking photos. I’m sure that good weather condition bring them out to the scenic photo spot. We could feel that spring is just round the corner.

East garden flowers also noticed us that spring is just knocking the door. Some early flowering cherry trees are just beginning to come out. Many Japanese apricot flowers are soon in full bloom and also the scent of them attract us when passing by.

All guests are divided into four groups and some guides accompany them. I hope during 2 and half hours tour close communication between us contribute to deeper understanding of Japanese culture, history and also modern Japan.


Our guides had surprising reunion with guests of our Meiji Shrine tour 2weeks ago by chance at entrance of the garden. Thank you for joining our tour again!
Tokyo Free Walking Tour operates three courses guide regularly, the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, the Meiji Shrine and Asakusa. Three areas have different history and attractiveness of Japan. From this month TFWT started Ueno Park tour. Next Ueno Park tour is scheduled for Mar. 21. Ueno Park is one of the famous place for cherry blossoms. And the end of March is the best time to look at the cherry blossoms. Please don’t miss this opportunity!

Naoki

Asakusa tour on February 10 and some tips about Shinto, indigenous religion of Japan

It was a freezing cold cloudy day. But we welcomed 11 guests in total from Australia, Singapore, Thailand, UK & USA. Thank YOU very much for your participation to our bi-weekly Sunday Asakusa route tour. It is always amazing that we have guests from such various countries & regions.

 

Lots of tourist interests are packed in Asakusa. One example is that you can visit both Shinto shrine and Buddhism temple in short distance. In fact, they locate side by side.

Shinto (“the way of the deities”) is an indigenous religion of Japan as old as Japan itself. It remains Japan’s major religion alongside Buddhism.
Shinto is deeply rooted in the Japanese people and traditions.
“Shinto deities” are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of concepts and things important to life, such as mountains, rivers, trees, wind, rain, thunder and fertility. Even human become kami after passing away. The kami of extraordinary people are enshrined at some shrines.

An interesting aspect of Shinto shrine is that they have a specific role expected according to the deity enshrined. For example, the Inari enshrines the god of good harvests, and so people visits there pray for their success in business.

Yushima Tenjin Shrine, easily accessible from Asakusa and Ueno, is a Shinto shrine devoted to Sugawara no Michizane, a famous 9th century scholar also known as the God of scholarship.

In Japan, school term starts in April and closes in March. Mid-February to early March is the peak season of entrance examination. During examination season, don’t be surprised to find many students and their family coming to the shrine to pray for good results. In addition to pray in front of main hall, many visitors purchase “ema” small wooden votive tablets. Visitors write down their petition, i.e. success in examination and hang them on special racks in front of the main hall. Currently all the ema racks have huge bundles of ema. Wow, it should be a tough work for even Tenjin deity to fulfill all the desires.

Yushima Shrine is also famous for the Japanese apricot blossoms (ume), It has a blossom festival from mid-February to mid-March, when the flowers on 300 Japanese apricot trees in full bloom – what a breathtaking sight!

Tour Report on Feb.9 (The East Garden of the Imperial Palace)

We had seven guests joining our tour at the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on Feb.9. They were from Australia, United Kingdom, U.S.A. and Vietnam.

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Feb.4 was the New Year’s day in the lunar calendar and the beginning of spring as well. However, it had snowed in the tour’s morning and was very cold.

We enjoyed blossoms of camellia and plum trees covered with snow. Our guests also found Kanzakura-cherry blossoms (species of winter-blooming cherry trees) at the Honmaru area which reminded us that spring was surely knocking on the door.

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We hope they add our tour and the warmth of the Houji-cha ( roasted green tea ) on their memories of Japan.

 

( by Rei )

Memorable day tour at Ueno Park on Feb 11

Thank you so much for joining the first tour at Ueno Park on February 11. We welcomed five guests from America, UK, France and Canada. I really appreciate your participation in our tour in spite of the cold weather. It is spring according to the calendar but is still wintry. Some winter cherry blossoms were blooming. I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us on the memorable day at Ueno Park.

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As you may know Ueno Park is full of tourist attractions such as nature, museums, temples, shrines, statues, pond etc. Among them the most popular destination may be Tokyo National Museum. Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in Japan. They have about 120,000 items including 89 national treasures. There’s no other place in Japan where you can admire so many cultural and historical masterpieces. The current main building, Japanese gallery was reconstructed after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and the building structure is the combination of Japanese and European architecture.

One of the reasons for the popularity is that their permanent display of the main building is outstanding and definitely worthwhile to visit. Main building shows the variety of the Japanese arts from the ancient world to the Edo days including Buddhist statues, paintings and scrolls on the 2nd floor. The 1st floor has genre exhibits such as sculptures, ceramics and lacquerware. If you don’t have enough time, just visit the 2nd floor with the history of the Japanese art. In addition, Tokyo National Museum frequently holds an absolutely stunning exhibition currently displaying unrivaled calligraphy from Taiwan Palace Museum: Yan Zhenqing and his legacy until Feb 24. The next exhibition will be National Treasures of To-ji Temple, Kyoto: Kukai and the Sculpture Mandala from March 26.

tohaku.jpgToyokan, Asian gallery features Asian arts and artifacts from China, Korea, India, Gandhara and Egypt. Heiseikan exhibits the Japanese ancient culture such as archaeology. The gallery of Horyuji Treasures shows over 300 intricate Buddhist statues donated by Horyuji Temple, Nara mainly from the 7th to 8th century. Lastly behind the main building is a traditional Japanese garden with a teahouse. Open in spring at the time of cherry-blossoms and in autumn foliage. There are a few other galeries. ¥620 admission.
Ueno Park is vibrant and charming whenever you come. We offer the pleasant Japan experience for all the guests and believe that you will be satisfied with our guide at Ueno Park.
The tour is held irregularly for the time being and the next tour is scheduled on March 21(national holiday). Ueno Park is famous for viewing spot for cherry-blossoms. Cherry Trees may start to bloom around that time.
We will be looking forward to seeing you then. Join us if you are around Ueno or Tokyo.

(Posted by Yoshi)

 

Ueno Park Tour on February 11th

In addition to the existing tours at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Asakusa Sensoji Temple and Meiji Shrine / Harajuku, we will have another walking tour at the heart of Ueno Park starting on February 11. This will be the fourth tour for TFWT. The starting point is the front of Park Exit of JR Ueno Station and the goal is the statue of Saigo Takamori.

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Ueno Park is one of the first public parks in Japan. In fact, the park was the site of Kaneiji Temple, the Japan’s largest and family temple of the ruling Tokugawa dynasty during the Edo period which continued for nearly 270 years. The temple was politically and religiously influential and the site of the temple was twice as large as the current park at its peak.
However, when the Japan’s largest ever civil war broke out in the late 1800s, Kaneiji was ruined and devastated by fires. Afterwards, the grounds became a public park. Fortunately, the 400-year old historical buildings including Ueno Toshogu Shrine, five-storied pagoda and Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple survive the earthquakes, fires and wars in the original forms and miraculously remain intact and aesthetic.

Now the park is expansive, offers greenery scenery and has variety of great attractions: Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, National Museum of Western Art, Ueno Zoo and the relaxing pond for visitors.

The Park is fascinating no matter what season of the year you come. Enjoy rich nature and vigorous culture at Ueno Park. We offer the pleasant Japan experience for all the guests and believe that you will be satisfied with our guide at Ueno Park.
JR上野.Ueno Park is located a one minute-walk from Ueno train/underground stations. Our first tour is scheduled on February 11(national holiday) at 13:00. The length of time will be approximately 2 hours. The closest station is JR Ueno Station. The meeting point is between the Station and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan(Culture Hall). Get out of the Park Exit (Koenguchi) of JR Ueno Station and cross the street for Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Culture Hall). Then you will find our staff waiting for you with the TFWT flag. The tour will currently be conducted on non-regular basis. We will be looking forward to seeing you then.

(posted by Yoshi)

“Out with the demon, in with fortune” Feb.3rd Meiji Jingu Tour & Ueno Park tour kicks off on Feb.11

What a perfect day! We could welcome 12 guests at our meeting place, the Giant Torii under such a mild climate even it was in the middle of the winter.
Thank you for coming from U.S.A, Brazil, U.K.,Australia, Singapore. The precinct surrounded by greenary was such a relief, and the energetic Harajuku area was
also so stimulating for all of us. Each time we visit the shopping area, we could find new shops or discover more “hyper” things.

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More to say, this day(Feb 3rd), was the exact day of a seasonal event called Setsubun.The Setsubun is the day before a new season starts.  In Japan we throw soy beans on setsubun as we say “out with the demon and in with fortune”   This ceremony started because people believed that evil spirits were released every time the season changed.  For good luck, we eat as many soy beans as we are years old on this day. On Setsubun people also eat an entire roll of sushi for a good luck. Why entire? Because it is said that the luck will be cut off as well if you slice the roll. And one more advice is that you have to eat in silence and stand in the lucky direction while eating.(lucky direction of 2019 is midway between east and northeast)
Well, we hope you could have a chance to see any of those “Setsubun-items” sold at supermarkets, convenience stores, department stores this day!
…or perhaps you might saw a person really doing these actions in front of you…

And one more exciting news.
TFWT is happy to introduce you to our new tour course,”Ueno park tour”.
Ueno park is culture mecca with a number of museums including the prestigious Tokyo National Museum and the delightful Shitamachi Museum with its
displays of old Tokyo , Ueno Zoo and so on. The tour will kick off on  Feb.11, just a week later! For more information, please check our upcoming blog or facebook.

(posted by Nori)

Tour report of THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE on 2019.2.2 and Introduction of Coming New Tour

Thank you for joining our tour visiting the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on February 2nd.   We welcomed 20 people from Australia, U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Ireland.

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The day was not so chilly and we could enjoy clear blue winter sky during strolling around the garden.    Coming February 4th is “the First day of Spring” on the calendar in Japan.   From that reason, we could enjoy cute plum tree blossoms, which is the first symbol of spring,  starting to bloom here and there in the garden.

We hope all of guests enjoyed this tour and also we are looking forward the day when you and your friends or family have the opportunity to participate in TFWT hosted tours in future.

Now, let me introduce TFWT’s newly featuring tour; “Ueno Park”.   There was the largest temple named “Kan-Ei-ji Temple” in  Edo period at there. One of their mission was to guard the former Edo Castle, current Imperial Palace, from evils.   Most of the area were now converted to attractive Large Park including various museums, zoo, historical architectures and so on.    The first tour will be held on Feb.11th. Please check our web site for detailed information.

(posted by Masao)