ALL TOURS ARE SUSPENDED until further notice. Stay safe everyone!

Tokyo Now

Tokyo Now #10: Tokyo Free Walking Tour Now – 2

  • 2020.07.29

Greeting from Tokyo! Following to the on-site members only tour on Saturday at East Gardens of the Imperial Palace route, Meiji Shrine & Harajuku route tour was held on Sunday. Meiji Shrine & Harajuku tour Route : First half:   Meiji Jingu shrine Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine.  Shinto is an indigenous religion in Japan.    Meiji Jingu attracts largest number of visitors every New Year’s to wish good fortune of the year. Urban oasis full of nature in the middle of such a big city Tokyo.  Appreciated as a place of tranquility and relaxation. Meiji Jingu celebrates a century of foundation this year. Special exhibits are on display on the approach path to main hall. Second half:  Harajuku & Omote Sando We will guide you to Harajuku, which is one of the busiest and most popular shopping areas in Tokyo!  Attraction of this route: Comparison between Meiji Jingu shrne and Harajuku & Omote Sando, i.e. sacred greenery place and exciting fashionable shopping districts   This time, the on-site members only tour evolved to a hi-brid tour, on-site tour with live streaming to members via zoom! Less crowded thus we could feel the original atmosphere of this place. Smell of forest, […]

Tokyo Now #9: Tokyo Free Walking Tour Now (1)

  • 2020.07.23

While our walking tours are still suspended, it does not mean we totally suspend TFWT activities.  In addition to  regular monthly meetings, members are organizing various kinds of online activities, such as study meeting (ex. Recommended small talk topics,  deep dive of Japanese castle, popular animated movies & magazine, etc.), virtual tours for members to be prepared for real tour,  catch-up gathering.   Also, we have just kicked-off on-site walking tours for members, observing the latest advisory from the government and health authorities with the utmost care and attention. Focus of this issue is the on-site members only tour held on the latest Saturday. East Gardens of the Imperial Palace route Route : Tokyo Station -> Maru no uchi district -> East Gardens of the Imperial Palace) Attraction of this route: Comparison of Tokyo between modern & present and old days. Participant members gathered at the meeting place “Tokyo Station Marunouchi Central Gate (ground floor)”.  It’s been almost 4 months since we met on-site, so happy indeed! Sharing information, we walked entire course. Output is the best input indeed.  Members are so eager to share and learn, thus we stayed at the first view point “Tokyo Station”  for 30min! Let us […]

Tokyo Now #8 : Ueno Park, full of culture & art, and more

  • 2020.07.16

Question. If want to feel the atmosphere of Kyoto and Nikko at Tokyo, and to go to a zoo with your children, and to enjoy classical music concerts and masterpieces in your spare time, and to study Japanese history and climate and to see a world heritage building, and to find a cheap and good product in the market for fresh fish and daily necessities, do you think where you should go? The answer is Ueno Park. Ueno Park is the oldest public park in Japan and home to historical and cultural places such as temples and shrines, more than 10 museums, a zoo. Here are some of them. Ueno Toshogu was founded about 400 years ago at about the same time as the world heritage Nikko Toshogu. You can enjoy beautiful buildings and decorations comparable to Nikko Toshogu. Kiyomizu Kanondo is a temple simulated after Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. Tokyo National Museum is one of Japan’s oldest and largest museums. You cannot see everything in one day. The building of National Museum of Western Arts is World Heritage, designed by French architect Le Corbusier. Tokyo Metropolitan Festival Hall is a hall dedicated to classical music, famous for overseas orchestras […]

Tokyo Now #7: Tanabata, the Star Festival, on the seventh day of the seventh month (July 7)

  • 2020.07.11

According to Chinese legend, there once was a weaver princess named Orihime, the daughter of the Sky King, and a cow herder prince named Hikoboshi. They fell in love and they began neglecting their work.  Orihime ceased weaving cloth, and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to wander all around the skies. This angered the king, so as punishment he separated the two lovers across the “heaven river” the Milky Way. The king allowed Orihime and Hikoboshi to see each other once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. But they cannot meet if the weather is rainy, so it’s customary to pray for good weather on this day. This is the origin of the Star Festival,  Tanabata.  People write their wishes on stripes of colored paper, and hang them on the branches of leafy bamboo stems.  Tanabata is one of the most loved traditional annual events in Japan. Tanabata festivals are taken place all over Japan though most of them were canceled or performed on a smaller scale.  by TFWT PA&C

Tokyo Now #6: Nagoshi no Ooharae (mid year Shinto ritual )

  • 2020.07.07

Nagoshi-no-Ooharae (summer grand purification ritual) A shinto ritual ‘’Ooharae (grand purification) are conducted on the last day of June and December, i.e. mid-year and end of year,  to exorcise the sins and the impurity accumulated in the six months. Originally this ritual was held at the imperial court, today it is held at shrines nationwide while most popular in Kyoto.  Harae is the general term for rituals of purification in Shinto. On the day, people visit shrines and scrub themselves with a paper doll so that it absorb their impurities and misfortune.  In addition, “chinowa kuguri (passing through a hoop made of kaya grass [plants of sedge family])” is performed in many shrines.  A very large “Chinowa” made in the shrine appears in the precincts, and by going through it, people pray for good health for the next six months.  People also eat Minazuki sweet. Minazuki This is “minazuki”, a traditional Japanese sweet usually sold in June. Azuki beans are on top of uirou, sweet rice jelly.  “Minazuki (month of water)” is traditional name of June under lunar calendar. June of the lunar calendar corresponds to modern July, i.e. mid-summer. People want to have ice to cool body but it was […]

Tokyo Now #5: Ginza Now!

  • 2020.07.02

Ginza is located south of Tokyo Station, the starting point of our East Garden of Imperial Palace tour, and is one of Japan’s most prominent downtown areas. A lot of brand shops and large department stores are lined up, and it becomes a pedestrian paradise on weekends, and it is also a place where people including foreign guests can relax. This pedestrian paradise in Ginza was suspended on March 28 due to Covid 19, but finally resumed on June 13. The photo is as of June 27. You can see that people are returning little by little. If you walk a little southeast from Ginza along the main street, you will find Kabukiza theater. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese art. Kabukiza is scheduled to resume performances in August. If you walk further, you can see an Indian-style building, Tsukiji Honganji Temple. This Buddhism temple was established about 400 years ago, but the main hall was burned down by the 1923 earthquake and rebuilt in its current form in 1934. It’s a very unique building and worth a visit. Tsukiji Market is just southwest of the temple. Although the market itself has moved to Toyosu, there are many restaurants where you […]

Tokyo Now #4 Asakusa Tokyo’s traditional downtown with modern energy

  • 2020.06.22

Tokyo Now #4 features Asakusa, one of our walking tour routes. SENSOU-JI Temple in the rain Sensou-ji temple in Asakusa is the oldest temple in Tokyo, established in 628. It is also one of the popular places for visitors from foreign countries and other area in Japan and its main gate, Kaminari-mon, is the symbol of Tokyo today. Due to Covid 19, Almost all shopping stores in Nakamise in Sensou-ji temple were closed in Apr and May. May festival in this area is postponed to October. However, not all events were suspended. Daily Buddhism service has been continued even Covid 19 disaster. The big lantern of the main gate of Sensou-ji temple was renewed in Apr 17. It has been renewed every 10 years and this is the year. In this way tradition is preserved. Now Japan is in the rainy season. It was raining on this day when I visited after a long time. But the new big lantern was vivid, the shopping street was opened, the voice of sutras in the temple sounded calm and strong. I felt it is getting back to normal and am looking forward to walking and chattering with our guest in the near […]

Tokyo Now #3 Mitake Ravine, stunning natural view

  • 2020.06.15

By just 90- to 120- minute train ride from centeral Tokyo, you can enjoy such  rich nature in Japan.  And that you are still in Tokyo. Tokyo Now #3 focuses on Mitake Ravine, located in the west of Tokyo. Located in the upper reaches of the Tama River, Mitake Ravine is a picturesque area selected as one of the Japan’s 100 Exquisite and Well Conserved Waters. Just strolling the ravine promenade, seeing & listening to nature, you will feel relaxed and are fulfilled.  Near by art museum and sake brewery are also recommended to drop by at.  During spring to autumn,  variety of river activities are also available. If you can do overnight trip for this area, I would add Mt Mitake hiking, which I will introduce you upcoming issues. If you’ve seen enough of the exciting big metropolis, this is one of the perfect spots for a day trip from Tokyo.  You cannot say that you know Japan if you haven’t ventured through its gorgeous countryside! by TFWT PA&C

Tokyo Now #2: Japanese irises in bloom

  • 2020.06.07

It is almost the season of Japanese iris. The Ninomaru Garden in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace is one of the most recommended viewing spot.  The Ninomaru Garden is one of the main attractions of TFWT’s “East Gardens of the Imperial Palace” route tour.  With the lift of the state of emergency, the public opening of the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace has been resumed from Tuesday, June 2, the first time in two month since March 28.  Let’s switch to the next route “Meiji Shrine and Harajuku”. Both Meiji Shrine and Harajuku town, especially Takeshita Street, are know as “must visit” spots. Currently there not many people at all.  You can enjoy tranquility at Meiji Shrine and you can even jog down the Takeshita Street! by TFWT PA&C

Greeting from Tokyo “Tokyo Now #1”

  • 2020.05.28

Thank you for your visiting our website. In Japan, the state of emergency over the coronavirus was fully lifted on May 25 about a week earlier than scheduled.  We are entering into the new phase for a “new normal” of living with the novel coronavirus but carefully and gradually. Until we can welcome you to Japan again,  let us occasionally introduce you “Tokyo Now” , i.e.  seasonal feature, beauty of nature, sweets & dishes, etc.  Probably starting from each TFWT members neighborhood areas then areas of TFWT standard tour route.  The 1st update is from the always-wonderful Inokashira Park in “Kichijoji & Mitaka” area,  20min. by JR train from Shinjuku.  Photos are from my daily walking & jog  in the morning under “Stay Home Stay Lives” life.  by TFWT PA&C