CHERRY TREES IN FULL BLOSSOM (MAR.30, THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE)

Thank you for joining our tour to the East garden of the Imperial palace on March 30. We organized two tours in the morning and in the afternoon. Totally we welcomed 29 guests from the U.S.A. France, Malaysia, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, India, Singapore, Germany, the Philippines, Brazil. It is our great pleasure to have the guests from all over the world and communicate with one another. In this way we can learn more about other countries and hopefully broaden our international perspective.

It was a bit chilly for the end of March and Tokyo station was crowded because of an event related to the Olympics. However, once we entered the East garden decorated with the cherry blossoms in full bloom, we had a wonderful walk in the spacious park. Our guests enjoyed taking photos with cherry trees and seeing various kinds of colorful trees.

At this time of the year, you see many Japanese having a picnic under cherry trees. Why not buying a “ bento “, a typical Japanese lunch box and eating out under a cherry tree!

Our next tour will be April 6 Saturday at the East garden of Imperial palace and April 7 Sunday at Meiji Shrine. Our friendly guides are waiting for you. It is a great chance for you to talk about Japanese history and culture with locale people.

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Hanabie is essential for Cherry blossoms(Weekday tour of the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on March 26th)

 

Thank you for coming our weekday tour of the East Garden of the Imperial place on 26th March. We welcomed 20 people from USA, UK, Germany, Austria, Australia, and Israel. We divided the guests into 3 groups and started tour respectively.

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It was cloudy and a little bit colder than the day before that day. But many people came to the East Garden of Imperial Palace to watch and enjoy cherry blossoms. We also enjoyed the cherry blossoms during the tour. The tour on that day, we had two kids guests. They also enjoyed charm hunting with us. Thank you for joining our charm hunting tour!

Now cherry blossoms is going on all over the Japan. It is getting warmer and warmer. However, in the season of the cherry blossoms, sometimes cold weather returns. This weather phenomenon is called “Hanabie” in Japanese. “Hanabie” is so helpful to keep cherry blossoms much longer. If there is no “Hanabie” in this season, cherry blossoms is going to finish earlier. Thanks to the “Hanabie”, we can enjoy cherry blossoms longer than we expected.

“Hanabie” will come in this weekend. Stay warm and enjoy Hanami!

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posted by Yumi.H

 

 

Shinto Deity Predicts Sakura Season, Asakusa Mar. 24th

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in Asakusa area.
On that day, March 24, we were honored to welcome 14 guests to our walking tour. These people came from different corners of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Spain, U.S.A. and U.K.
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Finally, the real springtime has come, and it brings breakthroughs in weather for your sightseeing in Japan.
In Tokyo, the daytime temperature rises to 15 degrees Celsius. It has led to the blooming changes from ume or Japanese apricot flowers to cherry blossoms.
As observed around areas of Asakusa, busily working rickshaw drivers, a lot of kimono favorite people and displayed portable shrines can truly convey a sense of tradition in the area.


Under these circumstances, we met 14 energetic participants of the tour in front of the Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate of Sensoji Buddhist Temple.
With this iconic meet-up spot as our starting point, our walking tour moved into Nakamise Street, which is a pedestrian-oriented area in this town. It is a 250-meter long pathway toward to Sensoji main hall and has 90-meter lined stalls of food and souvenir shops.

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In Tokyo, the forecast of cherry blossoms is deeply connected to a specific tree in Yasukuni Shinto Shrine.
The Yasukuni Shrine is one of the most notable shrines located in the Chiyoda District of Tokyo.
It is easily accessible from our usual tour locations in Tokyo like the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, Asakusa, and the Meiji Shinto Shrine.
It only takes within 40-minutes by train to reach this sacred place from these other iconic locations.


This sanctuary exclusively enshrines the souls of the casualties from the wars that affected Japan. These enshrined souls have fallen victims to the Boshin War that happened from 1868 until 1869, and the World War Ⅱ from 1939 to 1945.
Aside from these religious circumstances, this shrine is also notable because of a specific cherry blossom tree in the compound.
This  sakura tree serves as an indicator for when the beautiful cherry blossoms will start blooming in the city.
Once this distinct flower-bearing tree starts to blossom, it signals the start of the cherry blossoms blooming period in Tokyo.
As a matter of fact, every year, the Japanese Meteorological Agency announces the much-awaited moment of the first blooms in line with their confirmation that this eye-catching  tree in the Yasukuni shrine has blossomed.
Medias also cover and broadcast the atmosphere in this shrine after the official announcement of the start of the cherry blossoms season was made.
(By Arac)

SUCH A COLD DAY, BUT EARLY BLOOMING SAKURA FASCINATED US! (MAR.23, THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE )

Thanks for everyone joining our tour this day. We were so pleased to meet you at our Morning tour and Afternoon tour.
We could welcome 44 guests in total. All of you from U.S.A. , Canada, Mexico, Brazil, U.K. , Italy, Holland, Romania, Cyprus, Australia, Malasia, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan were  so cooperative and open-minded to us. We made 7 groups to explore around from Tokyo station to the East garden of the Imperial palace.

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The Meteorological Agency has announced that, in Tokyo, SAKURA blooming has started on Mar.21 , just a couple days before, So anyone had expected an mild and flowerly spring day with many people on the streets and perhaps…the blooming of the SAKURA is going on. However, it was such a cold day as we were brought back to the middle of the winter, sometimes even raining, and in fact, the unbelievable weather just made the SAKURA blooming stop… the main SOMEI-YOSHINO brand still had poor buds… but to our suprise, we could see the gorgeous blooming at the Honmaru goten area!! They were the early blooming species in almost full bloom!!

We also could see amazing scenes like the “O-obansho (3rd guard house) being under a big construction or young Black-headed gulls lining at the wooden bridge or an ripe fruit (citrus) dropping on the ground at the orchard garden. Encountering each things are always like a surprising gift.
Why don’t you come to encounter the moment of each change at this historical area? We always await to share fascinating memories with you.
More to say, TFWT’s instant kimono would add an Japanese taste to you.(Thanks for trying them on this cold day too. Each of you looks so lovely!!)

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It is said that, SOMEI-YOSHINO will become in full bloom around this weekend in Tokyo. During this SAKURA season, TFWT will conduct 3 additional tours at the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. (Mar.26 AM, Mar.30 AM & PM, Apr.4 AM) Please check our tour calender for details and make sure not to miss it!!

(posted by Nori)

 

Somei-yoshino cherry tree blossoms coming out at Ueno Park (March 21)

I want to thank all of you for participating in our tour at Ueno Park on March 21.
Nine people kindly joined our tour from Spain, America and UK. It was a bit windy but a nice Spring weather. I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us.

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As a matter of fact Ueno Park is one of the most famous and popular hanami(cherry blossom viewing) spot in Tokyo. Over 1,200 cherry trees are planted with 50 varieties. Although we have witnessed some other early blossoming of the trees, Somei-yoshino, the most planted and favorite species in Japan have just started to bloom. 550 Someiyoshino trees may reach the blooming peak in a week or so depending upon the temperatures.

Since cherry blossoms signal the arrival of Spring, Japanese people traditionally admire them from the ancient times. Somei-yoshino is relatively new in the history. It was developed by the crossbreeding between Ohshima and Edo-higan cherry trees and cultivated by the gardener at Somei Village, currently Toshima, Tokyo in the late Edo period over 250 years ago. It is a clone from a single tree and propagated by grafting to all over Japan and the rest of the world. Therefore, each one has an identical gene and comes together on flowering and falling at once when the condition is met. Before the leaves come out, Somei-yoshino trees enter full bloom. Indeed, the entire tree looks dyed by the pink color of the blossoms. Pink color  gradually turns to white. Also, the petal is relatively large and gorgeous. The tree quickly grows and flowers in about five years earlier than other varieties. In addition, the tree is not too tall, and so they fit well with hanami party. During the season 1,200 lanterns hang from the trees and will be illuminated in the evening. Under the fully blossomed cherry trees people enjoy eating and drinking with family, friends and company colleagues. Since the peak blooming period is just a week or so,  people quickly enjoy the moment and welcome Spring day and night. The impatient people are already picnicking under the trees. Some people excuse themselves for drinking alcohol, though.

After the Meiji period Somei-yoshino became explosively popular and planted at the parks, schools and the bank of a river across the country. There are millions of Somei-yoshino trees in Japan. These are all linked to a single tree. According to the recent academic report one of the cherry trees at the central area of Ueno Park may be the original Somei-yoshino. If it is true, the tree is over 250 years old. I am anticipating the future research and discussion.

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Our tour at Ueno Park is irregularly held and the next tour is scheduled on April 29. We will be looking forward to seeing you then.

(Posted by Yoshi)

WEEKDAY TOUR OF THE EAST GARDENS OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE ON MARCH.19, 2019

Thank you for joining us. We welcomed 13 guests from US, Spain, and Germany. We divided the guests into 3 groups and started our tour at 1:00 pm from Tokyo station. Each group has 2 guides, so all guests and guides were able to enjoy conversation while walking.

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It was a perfect day for walking however still a little early in the cherry blossom season.

Cherry blossom is in full bloom in early spring from late March to the middle of April.The period of bloom depends on the area and the year. In this year, the beginning of bloom would be March 21 in Tokyo according to the forecast. One significant aspect of the blossom is that once it blooms, it lasts only about one week. People enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms not only from the moment the flower bud fully opened, but also throughout the period while they scatter away.When the patals are falling, we see the “hana-fubuki” phenomenon, a snow shower of blossom. It is a particularly breathtaking moment.

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Thanks again to all the guests for joining and having good time with us.We have been introducing our activities at Facebook and Trip adviser.If you have joined our tour,please check them,and give us your comments or feedbacks.

TFWT is going to hold a walking tour at Ueno Park on March 21 at 1pm. Ueno Park has the historic temples and shrines as well as museums. In addition, the park is famous for a “HANAMI” spot in Tokyo and the most symbolic cherry tree, Somei-yoshino is just about to bloom. Cherry Blossom Festival will be held from March 21 to April 7. You can expect to enjoy not only cherry blossoms but also many events.

 

(posted by YUMI.K)

What is special about Japan? March 16 the East Garden Tour

Many thanks to guests coming from all over the world.

On that day for the East Garden of the Imperial Palace tour, we welcomed 25 people from Israel, USA, Russia, Phillipinnes, Serbia, and Canada and divided into 3 groups.

It was fine and warm afternoon. We really enjoyed the tour.

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Many foreigners visit Japan to find something special only seen in Japan. This coming spring, cherry blossoms will be the one.

But there are many more special things foreigners can find in Japan. One very good example is “SNOW MONKEY,” which we call Nihon-zaru (Japanese monkey). Why Japanese monkeys are called that name is that monkeys are supposedly inhabitants in tropical areas such as jungles in Africa or Southeast Asia.

But in Japan monkeys live in a snowed mountain like Jigokudani in Nagano prefecture. The place has become a big tourist attraction because wild monkeys come to bathe in hot spring in the snowed mountain. Meaning the monkeys are the world’s northernmost living primates except humans. Visitors can easily approach to the monkeys and observe their livelihood. It is not a zoo but wild monkeys habits.

We are the very guides who can share such good information, so please ask us what special thing you can find in Japan.

So now we would like to introduce you our special guide tour to UENO Park, scheduled on March 21 at 1pm. Ueno Park has the historic temples and shrines as well as museums. In addition, the park is famous for a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spot in Tokyo and the most symbolic cherry tree, Somei-yoshino is just about to bloom. The blooming peak may be at the end of the month or beginning of April depending on the weather. The meeting place is between Park Exit of JR Ueno Station and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. It will be accessed from Ueno Stations of JR, Tokyo Metro Ginza/Hibiya Line and Keisei Line. The tour takes about two hours. Join us to enjoy nature and culture at Ueno Park.

(Masa)

St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17/Ueno Park tour on March 21

Thank all of you for joining our tour at Meiji shrine and Harajuku area on March17. The weather was perfect in the beginning of Spring. We had 16 friendly guests from America, Australia and UK. I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us.

Meiji Shrine was constructed about 100 years ago and is dedicated to the souls of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The shrine is the most popular destination during the new year days. The torii gate unique to a shrine and represents the border between the actual world and sacred world.

The massive display is the sake barrels which were donated by sake manufacturers across the country. There are approximately 200 barrels. Each barrel can contain 72 liters but all of them are empty. Sake is rice wine. Rice and Shinto shrine have been inseparable from the ancient times. The fundamental function of the shrine is to pray for the good harvest of rice. Rice and sake are offered to shrines at the time of a good harvest.

Purification is an essential element at a shrine. Before visiting the main hall, it is a tradition for visitors to follow the ritual practice to cleanse their hands and mouths at the purification pavilion. Now as you feel refreshed, let’s go to the main building to make a wish.

We saw the cars at the pavilion waiting for the purification rite to eliminate traffic accidents.
Of course, there is no guarantee for no accidents but the ritual by the shrine priest can get you feel comfortable. The writer used to follow this tradition. In addition, wedding couples paraded with their parents and relatives in front of the main building. This is a common scene at the shrine on weekends. A bride usually wears a white hood called ‘Tsunokakushi’ which represents hiding a horn. The horn makes people uncomfortable. By having a hood, the bride holds the feeling of jealousy and become modest and obedient to her husband. This tradition stays in the modern society. Why not men having the same thing?

Takeshita Street is full of street fashion targeting to the teenagers and always crowded. There are 130 shops on a narrow 400-meter street. They are mostly clothing, shoes and accessory shops but in recent years the street became commercialized with fast food restaurants, crepe and cotton candy shops etc. Also, there are dog and cat cafés as well. I hope it was an interesting experience for you to enjoy walking with the ‘teenagers’ and suppose you felt younger than you were.


March 17 was the St. Patrick’s Day and the parade was held on Omote Sando street at Harajuku after our tour had been completed. It is customary to wear green clothing and accessories to respect the symbolic color of the greenish island of Ireland. This is the annual event held in Tokyo since 1992. Many people participated wearing green things during the parade. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


TFWT is going to hold a walking tour at Ueno Park on March 21 at 1pm. Ueno Park has the historic temples and shrines as well as museums. In addition, the park is famous for a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spot in Tokyo and the most symbolic cherry tree, Somei-yoshino is just about to bloom. The blooming peak may be at the end of the month or beginning of April depending on the weather. The meeting place is between Park Exit of JR Ueno Station and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. It will be accessed from Ueno Stations of JR, Tokyo Metro Ginza/Hibiya Line and Keisei Line. The tour takes about two hours. Join us to enjoy nature and culture at Ueno Park.

(posted by Yoshi)

Ueno Park Tour to be held on March 21

Ueno Park is historically famous for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spot in Tokyo. There are over 1,200 cherry trees. Some species have already bloomed but the most symbolic cherry blossoms (Somei-yoshino) have not come out yet and are expected to be in full bloom toward the end of the month or beginning of April depending on the weather(temperatures).

Ueno Park site was the part of Kaneiji Temple which used to be the largest and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo period. Some species of the wild cherry trees were originally brought from Mount Yoshino in Nara known for one of the Japan’s most famous and oldest cherry tree spots and planted at the current Ueno Park site when the Temple was built about 400 years ago.

The best part is the central pathway between the southern main gate and the fountain square at the park. Several historical buildings stand along the main street. All of them were constructed during the Edo period about 370-400 years ago.

Ueno Toshogu Shrine is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun who established the Edo Shogunate. There are over 200 stone and 48 bronze lanterns along the approach. The shrine remains absolutely gorgeous and the lanterns are owesome. On the way to the shrine the magnificent five-storied pagoda is seen close at hand. This is a traditional wooden structure with the independent central pillar to control an earthquake. It is famous that Tokyo Sky Tree introduced this quake-absorbing technology when it was built seven years ago. Closer to the gate is Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple which was designed in the image of Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto on the slope. Although the size is much smaller, the balcony commands a fantastic view of Bentendo Hall on the island in Shinobazu Pond. It is incredible that all of these buildings were built as the part of Kaneiji Temple and survive the earthquakes, fires and wars in the perfect conditions for nearly 400 years. All of these buildings are designated as the nation’s important cultural properties and included in the guided tour.

Our next tour at Ueno Park is scheduled on March 21. I hope some Somei-yoshino trees will bloom and the scent of Spring will hang in the air by that time. The tour starts at 1pm and the meeting point is between the Park Exit of JR Ueno Station and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan and the tour takes about two hours. We offer the pleasant Japan experience for all the guests and believe that you will be satisfied with our guide. Our staff will be waiting for you with Tokyo Free Walking Tour flag. Enjoy rich nature and vigorous culture with us at Ueno Park.

(posted by Yoshi)

A Buddhist god promotes Ueno tour; Mar. 21 1 PM -Asakusa tour report, Mar. 10

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour.
On that day, May 10, we had two times of tour-10 A.M and 1 P.M.
We welcomed totally around 14 guests from the different corners of the world; Germany, U.S.A., Canada, Italy, Australia, Bulgaria and Mexico.
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Finally, the month of March has come. In Japan, March is the month in which students bid farewell to their universities during graduation, and for working people to move to new workplaces, or retire.
April, on the other hand, is when companies welcome new workers among their divisions, and for schools to welcome back old and new students alike.
These weeks now provide a semester break for students so that they can travel around, earn money or prepare for a new school year.
Under theses seasonal atmosphere, we met 14 people in Asakusa of Tokyo.
As usual, after greeting everyone and introducing ourselves, we made our regular tour in the historical location for 90 minutes.
Our tour started at the red painted gate, called Thunder Gate, which served as an ice-breaking topic.


A lot of people gathered in front of this Buddhist gate to take their memorable photos with the gate as their background.
The image of this Buddhist gate is wildly used on the cover of the Japanese guide books.
In addition, the printed images are also seen on the packages of Japanese souvenirs.
That is because Asakusa has been one of the must-to-see spots in Tokyo.

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After proceeding to the busy shopping street, Nakamise Street, we concluded our tour at Asakusa Shinto Shrine.
This religious building is well-located as well for us to discuss Japanese Shintoism, its related rituals and building structure.
Aside from that, this spot is a good content to talk about what Shintoism and Buddhism are, because both religious establishments share the same compound.
Well, we would like to let you know about a one of the annual events in Asakusa.
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The 18th of March, Monday, is a specific day when we can witness the “Kinryunomai”, or golden dragon dance, which will be held in the Sensoji Temple’s compound.
Together with lotus flowers on pillars, which are associated with Buddha, a golden papier-mache dragon controlled by graceful dancers will be dancing while being paraded.
The golden dragon, which is 18 meters long, and is weighing 88 kilograms, is skillfully maneuvered by 8 people.
These numbers and measurements are connected to the 18th day of the month of March, which serves as the day for the Buddhist festival.


The parade will start from the main hall of the Sensoji Buddhist Temple, and will proceed to Nakamise street, the passageway towards the Buddhist establishment.
This distinctive festival has been celebrated annually since 1958, the year when the renovation of the Sensoji Temple’s main hall was completed, and the event is in honor of that milestone in the Buddhist building.
This religious event serves like a commencement to the upcoming annual celebrations that will be held in the temple from May until August. These traditional events definitely will make the temple come alive.
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In this month, we are planning to make Ueno Park tour as follows:
Date&Time Mar.21 1p.m.

 

Hopefully, this will give you another excitement as well as Asakusa do.
Please come and join us.
(By Arac)