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Tokyo Now

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Tokyo Now #21: March 14, Somei Yoshino front has come to Tokyo

  • 2021.03.16

Somei-Yoshino Sakura, the most popular cherry trees, have come into bloom in Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Sunday, March 14, a few weeks earlier than usual. The Japan Meteorological Agency is responsible for declaring the official opening of the season, which is a kind of annual rite of spring. In each prefecture,  a specified cherry tree is observed as the standard tree.  There is a very careful watching of the tree for measurement  twice a day so as not to miss the five or six flowers that open to define the transition of seasons. The agency even releases maps of the cherry blossom front, which is similar to weather fronts. Full bloom is forecasted around March 22.す Let me also tell you that Somei-Yoshino is not the only cherry blossom in Japan. There are more than 200 types of cherry blossoms in Japan.  Earliest one starts blooming in autumn and latest comes end of April. We will keep you updated by posting various photos of beautiful Somei Yoshino.

Tokyo Now #20: One day in early spring “Asakusa”

  • 2021.03.08

Quite recently the state of emergency has been extended for two weeks till late March in the greater Tokyo area. Late March… it will be almost the beginning of the season “Somei Yoshino Sakura”, the most popular cherry blossom in Japan. We will introduce you the beauty of Sakura in Japan through Tokyo Now in April. This issue is focused on “one day in early spring at Asakusa” when I enjoyed a stroll from Kuramae to Asakusa in Tokyo. Asakusa is still far less crowded. For example, the observatory deck of Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center was empty when I drop in at. I felt I charted there exclusively for me. By the way, do you happen to know “DORAYAKI of Kameju – the famous confectionery in Asakusa. Many people used to line up long for “Dorayaki”. It was really short on the day thus for the first time I could buy and enjoyed one. Pancake of the Dorayaki is soft & fluffy. Anko (sweet azuki beans paste) is not too sweet. Dorayaki of Kameju is just one of many famous & popular confectioneries in Asakusa. I also bought “Ningyo-yaki (doll shaped baked cake)”. It is a soft sweet cake with anko (sweet azuki beans) […]

Tokyo Now#19- Will the KIRIN come? 2020 NHK period drama

  • 2021.01.28

Happy winter!! From the Jan.8, and for the 2nd time, the Greater Tokyo area and 10 prefectures are under the state of emergency again.Therefore, we have much more spare time at home now. The biggest entertainment for me is to watch “KIRIN GA KURU”, 2020, NHK period drama, It is the 59th NHK long-run drama. Especially samurai dramas are popular among them. “KIRIN GA KURU” means “KIRIN, the Messenger of Good Luck would finally come to our place”. It would come to us as an identity to let us know that our world has become quite safe and peaceful.Then, what kind of appearance does a KIRIN have? – Well, the answer is quite easy, I can show you a design of a KIRIN BEER can. There he is! How cool!! KIRIN BEER is one of the major beer brand in our country. You bet try it if you are thinking to come to Japan. About 400 to 500 years ago, there were many powerful Sengoku(=Provincial ) warlords . During this era, one of the most well known warlords would be Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga is such famous for being so charismatic and progressive, sometimes behaving like a dictator. Although, Nobunaga was […]

Tokyo Now #18 Happy New Year 2021

  • 2021.01.07

Year 2021 begins. How did you spend your holidays? Last year was one of the troubling years in history. The pandemic changed our lifestyle drastically. Our activity was suspended since then. We cannot meet any more guests from abroad. This year, we are hoping things turn out better and to meet wonderful people again. To wish for betterment of the world we usually visit shrines or temples on new year’s holidays to pray, but in this season much less people went to these places due to public warning of crowd risk. Instead, some people pray to Mt. Fuji or great nature for the good new year. Japanese believe gods reside in nature around you. Gods are everywhere and come near you whenever you need her or him. In early January ornaments made of bamboo, crops, and grass called Kadomatsu are placed at gates of the buildings or houses to invite gods who bring happiness. We are living in difficult time but, we must move forward. If this year turns a happy year, we can meet wonderful guests again and share our histories to overcome this pandemic. Imagine you are in front of Tokyo Station building where guides and guests meet […]

Tokyo Now #17 : The 2020 year-end greeting

  • 2020.12.27

This holiday season is unlike any other past one. Throughout the season, and as we move into a new and hopefully better year, We wish you moments of peace and happiness amid the difficulties caused by the pandemic. Let us summarize our activities of the year 2020. Considering the situation of COVID-19 infection, we have suspended our regular tours since end of March. But it does not mean we totally suspend TFWT activities.  In addition to  regular monthly meetings, members are organizing various kinds of both on-site and online activities, such as On-line Study workshops / seminars Topics covered wide range such as: Recommended small talk topics, deep dive of Japanese castle and deep dive of Edo Castle, popular animated movies & magazine, Kimono now & then, Bicycle tour of good old traditional downtown On-line skill-up tours for members    On-line catch-up gathering   On-site walking tours for members, observing the latest update & guideline  from the government and health authorities (just a few times during summer) We will keep you posted any update via our website. Also, we will continue issuing Tokyo Now delivering seasonality, beautiful nature, hot topics of Tokyo. Stay with us! Stay safe Stay healthy Stay connected We survived 2020 Peace Love Health 2021!! From […]

Tokyo Now #16: Traditional Japanese gardens in Tokyo (north-east area)

  • 2020.10.04

There are still nice gardens. As previous report, there are many “Kaiyushiki” (circuit style) gardens in Tokyo. I would like to introduce 2 gardens and 1 park in the northern area in Tokyo. “Rikugien gardens”,” Kyu-Furukawa Gardens” and “Askayama Park”. Rikugien Gardens is another garden which was donated by the Iwasaki family. It was originally built by a “Daimyo” (feudal load) in 1702, and purchased by Yataro Iwasaki, a founder of Mitsubishi conglomerate, in 1868. After that it was donated to the city of Tokyo in 1938. This is a typical daimyo garden and you can enjoy 88 scenes which simulate the world of Chinese and Japanese classical poems. Kyu-Furukawa Gardens is close to Rikugien Gardens. It was a house of Furukawa conglomerate in the beginning of 20th century. It is rather compact comparing to Rikugien Gardens, but you can see a Western style house, Western rose garden, and Japanese garden the same time. This garden is designated as the National Site of Scenic Beauty. Asukayama is a small hill located about 10km north of Tokyo Station. It is a park adjacent to Oji Station. 300 year ago, the era of Tokugawa Shogunate (Samurai’s government), one Shogun planted 1270 cherry […]

Tokyo Now#15: Why not spend an autumn holiday strolling at a Japanese garden?

  • 2020.09.23

Now that the scorching summer heat is over, how do you spend your autumn holidays? Monday and Tuesday of this week were national holidays, so we had a four-day long weekend. As travel restrictions were eased recently, some ventured out to remote areas as far as Okinawa or Hokkaido. But most people seem to have preferred spending their holidays at places not far from home. Tokyo has many chisan-kaiyushiki gardens, that is, the gardens designed to stroll around a pond and hills with trees and rocks aesthetically laid out. One of them is Kiyosumi-teien garden located on the east side of Sumida River. The garden was built by Yataro Iwasaki, an industrialist who founded Mitsubishi conglomerate, at the end of 19th century. Later, the garden was donated to Tokyo City. He searched for various kinds of stones across Japan and placed them beside the pond. Walking along the street from Kiyosumi-teien to Fukagawa Edo Museum, a small but intriguing museum that exhibits the town of old Edo, I found a scarecrow competition was being held on the street. There is no wonder that many scarecrows are made to scare the coronavirus away. Written by Chino From TFWT PA&C

Tokyo Now#14: Thank you for your long time service! Lovely Harajuku St.

  • 2020.09.20

Have you ever been to Tokyo?  If “yes”,  I guess you visited “Harajuku” as it is  one of the most popular area not only for tourist but residence in Japan.  Two most popular tourist site in Harajuku, or even in Tokyo, are Meiji Jingu Shinto shrine and Harajuku town itself.  Uniqueness of Harajuku is that serene spiritual greenery spot and cool fashionable district locate both side of the lovely JR Harajuku station building. Famous for its triangular roof and a weathercock placed on the roof, the oldest wooden train station building in Tokyo was constructed in a Western style in 1924 mainly for use by visitors to nearby Meiji Jingu, which was built in 1920. The station building watched over development of Harajuku, surviving Word War II. Buy finally, the loved old Harajuku Station building ended its service in March this year, and is set to be demolished as it does not meet fireproof standards. Good news is that some parts, such as stained glass, remain intact in the station building since its completion, according to JR East. After the building is demolished, a replica of its exterior is planned to be constructed near the new Harajuku Station building, partially […]

Tokyo Now #13 : Shibuya, still less scrambled

  • 2020.09.16

Do you know the scrambled intersection in Shibuya? It is amazing to see many people walking in different directions without hitting each other. The number of people is decreasing due to the influence of the new corona, but they are training every day. Speaking of Shibuya, Hachi-ko, the faithful dog. This dog was the model for the movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” starring Richard Gere. Worth a look. He is also looking forward to welcoming you with the message, “Take care of love. You are not alone.” Shibuya is next to Meiji Jingu Shrine and Harajuku. by TFWT PA&C

Tokyo Now# 12: Significance of Obon, meeting ancestors, ceremony

  • 2020.08.20

We are in the middle of very hot summer season. This season is called “Obon.” This season is for most workers, summer holiday period. Many people go back home to meet their family members and visit graves of their ancestors. However, since the novel coronavirus pandemic occurred, the form of the customs changed. People are advised not to travel around. At the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, one of our regular tour course, on 15 August, ceremony of burning lanterns called “Toro” was held in the backyard of the temple premise. Toro is a lantern that represents a soul of the dead coming down to the earth only in this season so we can greet the dead ancestors. Every year lanterns are floated on nearby Sumida river and later collected and burned to the heaven. A lot of people gathered on the riverside to see the lanterns floating on the river. Not to create big crowds, that festival was cancelled. Instead lanterns were burned directly and monks chanted along with the growing flame. (Photos of 2015 Obon lantern floating festival) As you know big events like Tokyo Olympics (postponed to 2021) were cancelled this year. In Asakusa, Sumida river firework festival […]

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