Lovely Spring Sunday in Asakusa (April 14 Asakusa tour report)

We welcomed 21 guests from France, India, Hong Kong, Mexico, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey & USA.   Wow, we are happy to know our guests cover 5 continents!

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It was a lovely sunny spring day though it gradually became cloudy and windy at the end of afternoon tour.  Period of  “sakura”(cherry flowers) in full bloom  has almost finished in Tokyo.  OK. Please do not disappoint!  A flurry of cherry blossoms blown in the wind is so romantic.

 

Senso-ji in Asakusa is one of the most visited and photographed temple in Tokyo with long history which is some 1400 years.  Thus, there are lots of events & ceremonies related to Senso-ji temple and its neighborhood districts.

 

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One of such events, “Shirasagi-no-mai or White Heron Dance” was performed on Sunday in front of Senso-ji temple.  This was first performed in 1968 to commemorate the century anniversary of Tokyo as the capital of Japan.  The beautiful dance was demonstrated by participants in historical costumes such as white heron, pole carrier, parasol carrier, warrior and musician.

by Akemi

Tour report of THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE on 2019.4.13

Thank you for joining TFWT hosted tour visiting the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on April 13.   We welcomed 53 guests from USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Brazil, Vietnam, Spain, India, UK, Germany, France and Mexico.

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The day was actually the best tour day with comfortable temperature and bright sunlight.  Additional gift for us was Cherry blossom.   We could enjoy blooming cherry trees, especially varieties of late-blooming trees.   Relatively low temperature until the day before might have been prolonged their transient life.

Also, we could enjoy lovely red and pink colored flower of Azalea starting to bloom at Nino-Maru Garden.

Now, the historical event; the ceremony of Transferring Throne from current Emperor to his son prince has been approaching.    Imperial Palace is the main stage of the ceremony.   

It was announced that greeting ceremony of  Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress will be held at Imperial Palace on May 4th.   Everyone will have a chance to participate in the General Public to the Imperial Palace grounds and celebrate His Majesties the Emperor and Imperial family at there. 

Because of this ceremony which will be held in the middle of so called “Golden Week” in Japan, government decided to set special continuous ten National Holidays this year.    Every Japanese are looking forward to experience the memorable days and hoping everything will go smooth during the time.

If you have interest, please find details at  

http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/e-event/sanga03.html

We hope all of guests enjoyed this tour and wish you remember as one of nice memories of traveling in Japan.   We are looking forward to have time with you or with your friend again at series of TFWT hosted tours in future.

(posted by Masao)

Tour Report on Apr.4 (Weekday Tour of The East Garden Of the Imperial Palace)

Thank you for joining our weekday tour of the East Garden of the Imperial Palace  on Apr.4. We had 24 guests. They were from Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and U.S.A.

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It was a warm day, and moreover cherry blossoms were fully blooming. Our guests enjoyed taking pictures of them with historic sites.

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In Japan, April is the beginning of the new year at school and work. Many Japanese make a start on their new classes, schools and jobs. However, this April differs from the usual. As the new emperor will accede to the throne on May 1, the anticipated new name of era was annonced to the public on Apr.1. The new name is Reiwa meaning “beautiful harmony”.

The first era was Taika in AD645 and Reiwa will be the 248th. Since the middle of 19th century, the name of era has been replaced by each imperial succession.

We hope the new period will be beautifully harmonized as it was named.

This spring is surely the beginning of a new period in Japan !!

 

( by Rei )

DELICIOUS COFFEE IN THE FOREST (APR.7 MEIJI JINGU & HARAJUKU)

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Thank you very much for all guests who joined “April 7th Meiji Jingu & Harajuku Tour” .We had 21 guests from U.S. ,  Austria, India, Spain, Germany.  Some had  delicious morning coffee and sandwich in the Meijijingu forest during the tour.  It was really a crisp morning.

Later we visited “Takeshitadori street” , epecenter of youth culture. Charm shops were tightly stand along the street. Many people were in a line for  the colorful cotton candy .  Many many “KAWAII” things were there.

Why don’t you join TFWT tours !! Please visit our website, tripadvisor and facebook.

(reported by Keiko N.)

 

WHAT A WONDERFUL DAY ! (APR.6,THE EAST GARDENS OF THE IMPERIAL PLACE)

Today we welcomed 56 guests from India, Spain, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Dubai, France, South Africa, Austria, USA, UK, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Germany, Catalonia, Norway, Canada, Australia, Portugal.

 

It was such a lovely day, warm, mild, refreshing.  Cherry blossoms were still at their most.

Young leaves have just begun to sprout.  We could enjoy the walking in the park very much. No word is needed, just see our smile on the photo.

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TFWT all guides are always waiting for you!!

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(reported by Keiko N.)

 

INBOUND VISITORS LIKE “SPRING” ?

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The most popular season chosen by inbound visitors was “spring”, however we are not literally talking about their favorite season here.  This is the result of a Japanese Kanji character survey designed and conducted by a volunteer tourism organization in Tokyo Japan, Tokyo Free Walking Tour (hereafter TFWT).

Here is the survey:
Have a look at these 4 Japanese Kanji characters.
“ ”“ ”“ ”
Which of the 4 catch your attention, and why? 

This survey was conducted in a face to face style between October 14, 2018 and March 9, 2019 towards TFWT tour guests who were new to Japanese Kanji characters.  As a result, most guests pointed out “” (43%) as the eye-catching character, followed by ““(25%), ““(18%), and “” (13%).

To many of foreign visitors, “春 (HARU = spring)” seemed eye-catching because, “it looks like a house” or “it is symmetrical”.  Next popular Kanji character was “秋 (AKI =autumn)” as it “looks like lovers cuddling.  Some chose “冬 (FUYU = winter)” because of “its clean-cut and simple shape”, while others chose “夏 (NATSU = summer)” because “of its unique shape”.

Most Eye-catching Kanji Character

Here are more interesting responses:
looks like a lantern” (by a guest from Australia).
looks like a fish” (by a guest from Mexico).

Among the total of 119 responses from 21 different countries, here are the trends by national origin.  Although many chose ““= spring, their choices do not seem to have connection with the nationalities of the respondents.
* Europe is United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain

Trends by National Origin

Interesting outcome, isn’t it?  TFWT plans to launch many more surveys going forward, so stay tuned!

Tokyo Free Walking Tour (TFWT) is a group of volunteers in Tokyo who conduct free guided tours in English.  TFWT is registered under the Japanese government organization, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) since 2008, with a goal to promote mutual understanding between Japan and the world.

TFWT has welcomed over 13,800 guests since 2008.  The reputable organization consists of over 200 guides including retirees and working professional with different backgrounds, stay at home mothers, and students.  Guides are dedicated to providing guests the finest hospitality and experience in Tokyo through a 2.5 hour walk in 4 of the most famous tourist sites of Tokyo.  Guests are provided historical and cultural knowledge in each tour.  TFWT strives to improve the quality of each tour as well as enjoy the cultural exchange with each guest.

Tokyo Free Walking Tours:

  1. East Gardens of the Imperial Palace tour

    Tour dates: Every Saturday from 13:00 – 15:30 (Between Tokyo Station and the Easy Gardens of the Imperial Palace)

  2. Asakusa tour

    Tour dates: 2nd and 4th Sundays from 10:00-12:00, and  13:00-15:00 (Between Kaminarimon Gate and Asakusa Shrine)

  3. Meiji Shrine & Harajuku tour

    Tour dates: 1st and 3rd Sundays from 10:00-12:00 (Between the main Torii Gate and Jingumae Crossing)

  4. Ueno Park tour  (NEW!!)

    Tour dates: Irregular as of March 2019 (Please check our website for the latest schedule)

    Learn more about Tokyo Free walking tour at https://tfwt.jp/.

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)