THE WEEKDAY TOUR FOR THE EAST GARDENS OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE (SEP.19,2018)

Thank you so much for joining our weekday tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on Sep. 19th. We are very happy to have 11 guests from Israel, USA, Spain, France and India. The weather was very nice. We hope all of you enjoyed the tour!

We started the tour at 10 am from Tokyo Station. We unexpectedly saw the horse carriage parade there two times today. Newly appointed ambassadors (from Senegal and Qatar) were going by horse carriage on Gyoko-dori Avenue to Imperial Palace to see the Emperor and present credentials. We are very lucky to see the parade!

Now it is the beginning of autumn, which is the harvest season with delicious food, and its comfortable climate is good for playing sports. Around the Imperial Palace you can see many people jogging. Along the pathway (about 5 km) there are gates for the Imperial Palace in several places, but there are no traffic lights at all. Therefore it is an ideal course for jogging! Also it is the most relaxing spot in Tokyo. From the sidewalk you can enjoy the great views of the palace surrounded by nature, such as moats, stone walls, trees and flowers. So it is one of the most popular running spots in Tokyo.

We have to follow manners when using the sidewalk along the Imperial palace.

  1. Priority is given to pedestrians.
  2. Large groups should not spread or block footpath.
  3. Be prepared to walk in single file on narrow roads.
  4. Walk or run counterclockwise.
  5. Don’t run too fast.
  6. Stop listening to music, or checking your mobile while walking or running.
  7. Bicyclists must slow down.
  8. Take your trash home.
  9. Be considerate.

If you look down on the sidewalk, you can find many beautiful tiles. There are 50 tiles of flowers on the sidewalk every 100 meters, and so we can easily know the distance. The tiles are called “the circle of flowers”. On each tile, symbolic flowers of 47 prefectures and Chiyoda city are depicted. It is really interesting!

Why don’t you come to try walking or running while enjoying beautiful scenery and finding interesting things around the Imperial Palace?

(posted by Kaori)

 

 

Tour Report of Meiji shrine -Harajyuku on September 16th

Thank you for joining our tour today. Today we welcomed 13 guests from many countries.

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Now we are in the middle of September. Violent  hot Summer has passed away, the weather is gradually approaching  to Autumn. Soon Japan will enter the best season for travelling. Please come and join our tour.

By the way I must return today’s tour topic ( Meiji shrine-Harajyuku ) . Today’s topic is about a torii  which has big concern with a shrine.  The  first torii of Meiji shrine is the gathering place of our tour. When Japanese see this torii, most Japanese think a shrine is close to us.

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And also Japanese feel a little tense ,because they  know entering into  sacred world.  They say that  a torii is  a border between the present world and the sacred world.

And talking of the origin of a torii  there are some theories,  From now I introduce you  one  theory. Since many years ago  they say that a bird is messenger of god. When it descends from the heaven, it temporary stays on a perch , and this perch has changed  to the present torii for many years. I owe it to you whether this theory is true or not. I guess that only god may know the truth.

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Thank you for joining our tour today. We hope all of you will have a good day,and safety in Japan. And see you again.

(posted  by  Masahiko-Sato)

The weekday Tour Report on Aug.28. The Imperial Palace East Garden

Thank you for joining our walking tour to Imperial Palace East Garden on Aug. 28th. We were so happy to have met all 18 guests from Canada,U.S.A.,Spain and Argentina. The guests were divided into 2 groups with few of our guides for each group.
That day was a weekday, so the garden was more peaceful and quiet than on weekend and it was not too hot day.

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The starting point of our walking tour of East garden  is TOKYO STATION.

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TOKYO STATION is not only a station but also a kind of amusement park.

There are …

Tokyo Okashi Land
A shop overflowing with limited-region specialty goods, courtesy of a classic Japanese snack manufacturer. The perfect place to find a gift or souvenir.

Tokyo Ramen Street
An incredible assortment of famous and popular ramen restaurants.
One of ramen restaurants has special menu for vegetarians.

Tokyo Character Street
A cornucopia of character merchandise, from kids’ favorite anime characters to healing characters popular with women.
JUMP character(ONE PIECE, NARUTO etc.)  and Kitty and Pokemon and more characters are waiting you.

Off course you can buy Japanese BENTO inside the station.

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There are museum and hotel and off course many restaurants inside and around the station.
Please google “Tokyo station city”!
Why don’t you enjoy Tokyo Station before or after our tour?

(posted by YUMI.K)

 

 

Sensoji’s omikuji are popular despite high percentage of a bad luck (August 26)

Many thanks for joining our tour in Asakusa on August 26. We had seven friendly guests from France, Holland and Spain. Although it was very hot and humid, I hope you had a good time with us.

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Omikuji at Sensoji are randomly drawn predictions ranging from a bad fortune to a good one with seven categories. People say Sensoji’s omikuji have more bad fortunes than at other places. It is partly true. Nevertheless, omikuji here are very popular.
How to draw omikuji? Drop 100 yen coin into the slot. Pick up the silver canister, shake it of 100 sticks as long as you think it’s sufficient and take out a wooden stick with a number. Then find the corresponding drawer and take a fortune slip that may decide your fate. English translation is available.

If your strip is a bad fortune, not to worry. You may tie it on the rack at the designated area and leave the fortune behind. The temple priest will pray for the better. If it’s a good one, just bring it back home. The percentage to draw a bad luck is not low. The probability of a bad luck is 30%(70% for lucky fortunes). There are 30 unlucky sticks of the 100 in the box. Sensoji follows the original components. Many other temples and shrines are deliberately lowering the percentage of a bad luck. On the other hand Sensoji keeps the traditional ruling and practice which deserve a cultural value. When you get a bad fortune, I suppose you feel like drawing again. Omikuji are the written oracle and advice of the Buddhist gods and redrawing is to ignore their advice. Consequently, redrawing is not recommendable. If you want to try one more time, it’s better to draw at other occasions on the other day.

Omikuji were originally created by a notable priest, Ryogen, head of Enryakuji Temple over a thousand years ago during the Heian period(794-1185). Enryakuji is known for the temple where a number of outstanding Buddhist predecessors were trained. He was the person of multiple talents with the power of prayer and a miraculous virtue in Buddhism. In the past pictures were depicted rather than letters in the light of the low literacy rate.
According to the original text there is a lesson. If you get a good fortune but are careless and arrogant with the good luck, it will change to a bad one. If you draw a bad fortune, it will eventually become a good one should you be sincere and patient.
Visitors will find some interests to experience the unique aspect of Japanese culture. Omikuji are thrilling, exciting and a great fun. Let’s challenge Sensoji’s omikuji while you are in Tokyo. We are looking forward to seeing you in Asakusa soon.

(posted by Yoshi)

 

 

 

The change of the season (August 18)

Thank you for coming our regular tour of the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on August 18. It was cool and fine, looked like the beginning of autumn.

We had a good tour under the best condition. We welcomed 7 guests from Israel, Spain, Slovenia and USA. We were so happy to have met them. We divided the guests into three groups and started in order.

In the East Garden of the Imperial Palace there were fewer people than usual because of Japanese summer vacation season.

The East Garden of the Imperial Palace was so quiet. We could hear the sound of buzzing of cicadas well. It is said that Cicadas can live only 7 days after coming out from the ground. Japanese people have thought it as being brief. Some guests were much interested in Cicadas at the East garden of the Imperial Palace.

Cicadas’ buzzing is over soon. When we hear a bell cricket, the season will change from Summer to Autumn. This is the change of the season in Japan.

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You can find and experience  the change of the season while staying in Japan.

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Posted by Y.Hino

A CALM AND PLEASANT WEATHER TRULY SIGNIF­IES THE COMING AUTUMN SEASON IN JAPAN-the 19th of August

On that day, the 19th of August, we welcomed around 10 guests on our walking tour.
These people came from different regions of the world, including Singapore, Turkey, Spain, and Canada.
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Finally, the scorching weather which prevailed all over Japan for the past month has come to an end.
A drop in the heat index is immediately felt all over Tokyo, and the temperature is now recorded at around 28 degrees Celsius.
At the start of the tour, the weather was so perfect but occasionally the sky was exceedingly covered with scattered clouds.
It was the first time in 20 days that the group was able to comfortably stroll around Harajuku and this is due to the drop in temperature.
Most of the leaves of the trees in the sacred forest surrounding the Meiji Shinto Shine seemed to exhibit their vivid green colors, more than ever.


Before we started our tour, we divided the attendees into two small groups for the purpose of facilitating interaction during the two hours stroll in the Shinto Shrine compound.
It’s a pleasure to talk about their travel plans with them and reviews for each tourist attraction.
At the same time, we can base their feedback to further improve and manage guide plans for potential tourists.

Under this fine weather condition, we commenced our two-hour walking tour from the sacred sanctuary of the shrine to the busy shopping street of Omotesando Avenue, which are places within our tour route.

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While we were within the shrine’s compound, we made a stop in front of like a small lighthouse called Toro, a Japanese lantern adorning the religious sanctuary.
In Japan, a toro is a traditional lantern, which is made from various materials like stone, wood, or metal.
Aside from these distinct material features, these religious establishments can also be made with several shapes and designs.
Some toro can be installed upright, with a pillar supporting it on the ground. These lanterns can also be seen hanging from the edge of roof.
This time, we’ll talk about the seasonal topic called “Toronagshi “, which is associated to the Toro.

—- Toronagashi —-
Toronagashi is one of the Japanese typical memorial events normally held in Bon season, which lasts around thirteen days in mid-July or mid-August.
Toro is a Japanese typical lantern and nagashi means cruise or to flow in a river or the sea.
It is a ceremony held by to solemnly see off the souls of their ancestors to the spiritual world at night.
They’re believed to return back from the other world and stay at their native homes during the Bon season in Japan.
At the event of the final Bon season, people float glowing paper lanterns which are associated with the souls of loved ones or ancestors, down the rivers in hopes of farewell and guiding the souls of the departed persons to the spiritual world properly.
At the same time, the conclusion of this event brings the sign to the end of the summer season and the coming autumn season.
Not only observed as a special occasion during the Bon season, toronagashi is also held as a regional event to commemorate the casualties of fatal accidents and war.
(By Arac)

11 AUGUST 2018, EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE

7th of August is Risshu in Japanese calendar, which means beginning of autumn. In contrast to the implication of the name, we had another day over 33 degree on 11th of August. It is our big pleasure that we welcomed 18 guests from US, UK, Singapore, Spain, Portuguese, and China. We spent a good time together on such a hot day.

As always, we started from Tokyo station, and we walked through tall buildings. It is fascinating to see mixture of modern and historical sight at one glance.

We carefully chose the route to the east garden to avoid direct sunlight so that we wouldn’t lose much energy. Good news is that there are beautiful fountains and pretty streams in Wadakura Fountain Park, and they gave us cool and crisp feeling even under severe sunshine. From the park, you can see both Tatsumi (Dragon-Snake) and Fujimi (Fuji View) Watch Tower.

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At this time of year, the moats around and inside the Imperial Palace are fully covered with green water-weed. This gives objects in the garden unique view, and brings us the mood of nostalgia.

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It is always good to spend time in the place of well maintained trees and plants. The East Garden is no exception. We enjoyed places in relaxed atmosphere.

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Inside the garden, there are lots of well preserved remaining of Edo castle. Every guest showed keen interest in stories behind those objects.

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There may be lingering heat in the mean time, but soon it will get cooler. A hot day has its own way of joy, and a cooler day has its own as well. I hope every tourist find his/her way of enjoying Japan.

(Takeshi)

 

Dating back to the Edo period(August 12)

A big thank you to all who participated in our tours in Asakusa on August 12. We welcomed eleven guests from UK, Spain, Germany, Taiwan and Australia. It was muggy weather but not too bad. Fortunately typhoon Shanshan had gone away by the time of our tours. I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us.

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The main approach to Sensoji Temple, Nakamise Street is famous, but crossing Denpoin Street has a different atmosphere and maintains the old-time ambience of Edo(currently Tokyo) with the variety of special shops and interesting figures. The name of the street is derived from Denpoin Temple along the street. The temple is the living quarters of the priest and training place in the pretty garden which is normally closed to the public.

The street is just 200 meters long and lined with little shops of the elaborately crafted products such as Edo kiriko, Kanzashi hair accessory and tenugui cloth which are passed down from the Edo period(1603-1868). Edo kiriko are a unique type of cut glass. The clear colors and delicate patterns are artistic. Kanzashi are hair ornament used in traditional Japanese hairstyles. Furthermore, Tenugui are a type of towel with the sense of the seasons. They can be used in various ways such as drying hands, a mat or for a display. These products may be suitable as a souvenir from Asakusa.

It is amazing that the street has full of remnants from the pre-modern period. For example Hansho Bell, a watch tower to look out for fires and strike the bell at that time and tensui-oke, rainwater tank for extinguishing fires. Edo was susceptible to fires, since the buildings were mostly woods and stood very close each other. The Sensoji Temple main hall was destroyed by fires several times. For this reason Tensui-oke are seen elsewhere in the temple precincts as a lesson. These remains are not too conspicuous and easily missed. You have to look very closely to see it.

In addition, there are six outstanding thief characters somewhere on the street. One is a sneaky Nezumi Kozo(literally rat man) modelling a legendary thief and hero who lived in Edo. Nezumi kozo is famous for stealing money from the evil rich and helping the poor. The others are five master thieves and their stories were made into kabuki plays. The principal figure is standing on the street. Most of the figures are not the level of your eyesight and look up. It may be a fun for visitors to look for another four thieves.

Finally, your tour will end up with food and drinks at the extended Hoppy Street. There are plenty of izakaya(tavern) restaurants. Hoppy Street is a common name and came from ‘hoppy’, a low alcoholic-flavored beverage(0.8%) which was traditionally popular, since beer was too expensive after WW2. Now people are drinking hoppy mixed with shochu,clear distilled liquor(25%). Drink hoppy at Hoppy Street and become happy!!!

We are delighted to show you the lovely part of Asakusa including Sensoji Temple and look forward to seeing you then.

(posted by Yoshi)

Tour Report on August 5 Meiji Jingu Shrine and Harajuku

It was another hottest day in Tokyo with beyond 30 degrees Celsius at 10 am in the morning! Despite the heat, we welcomed nine Tokyo lover tourists from Australia, Belgium, U.K., U.S., and Vietnam. We divided up into four groups so that the guides can communicate closely enough in small groups.

Having got together in front of the first Torii Gate next to JR Harajuku station, we started the tour on time at 10 am, though some of the guest came pretty early. We were sorry to have them wait but the tour requires no reservation for any possible tourists to drop in on sight.

Crossing the Torii gate which separates the crowded human world and the holly God’s world, we had a “cool” walk in the forest surrounding the shrine. On the way toward the main building, things behind Japanese culture were introduced such as who was Emperor Meiji and history of the imperial family, the “spiritual” function of sake, etc.

The guests on today were lucky enough to see a bride and groom once they entered the main building property. They were in formal traditional kimono costumes, the bride in white kimono and the groom black kimono.

In addition to practice praying in a formal manner, the guests experienced writing wish on a wooden tablet or in a letter, which was another fun event.

Due to the heat, some of the groups finished the tour only inside the shrine, but others went so far, through Takeshita Dori Street, the mecca of fad in Japan, toward the International Bazaar, the place to get decent Japanese souvenirs. The “finishers” would definitely have deserved Japanese-style shaved ice, Kaki-gohri.

(Posted by A.I.)