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

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

“Ichi-go-ichi-e” (一期一会)Tour report of Feb.25 Meiji jingu Tour

  • 2020.03.01

We could not express how we were deeply impressed to welcome all of you at Meiji-jingu this day. Since it was our very first time to hold a weekday tour at this place, all of our guides were excited. On the other hand, the warning at a relatively high alert of Corona virus  made us a bit worry if we could meet any of our guests this day. No matter , We would like to thank each of you from Malaysia, Spain, France, Italy, totally 20 wonderful guests indeed. There is a word  called “Ichi-go-ichi-e(一期一会)” in Japanese, whichi means “an oppurrtunity to meet you is one time in one life”.  Don’t you think that this word has been  created just for us? The precinct was apparently quiet with less people visiting than usual. To avoid crowded areas, we were afraid that we have to skip areas like Takeshita-dori street but could rather spend more relaxed space and time inside the precinct. Some of our guests even tried omikuji or writing their wishes to dedicate them to the shrine.  When we reached to the main area inside the precinct, we could encounter some interesting scenes like a wedding couple dressed in Shinzen-style kimono or […]

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Temporary Suspension of Tours

  • 2020.02.25

(Updated Apr 7)Tokyo Free Walking Tour will suspend all of its tours until further notice, in light of the situation surrounding COVID-19. The health and safety of our guests has always been our priority. The suspension was decided observing the latest advisory from the government and health authorities. We will announce on this website on any updates on when we resume our tours. We apologize for any inconveniences, and very much appreciate your understanding. We are all in this together, and we shall overcome. Please stay safe and see you on our next tour.

UME & SAKURA HAVE SIMULTANEOUSLY STARTED BLOOMING, February 23, Asakusa and Ueno.

  • 2020.02.24

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in Asakusa and Ueno. On that day, February 23, we welcomed 18 guests on our walking tour. These people came from different corners of the world, including Australia, Canada India, Spain and U.K. Amazingly, Ume, or plum trees have started blooming in Tokyo. Ume, or Japanese Apricot trees, are flower-bearing trees in Japan that bloom nationwide from late February until the end of March. The blossoming period of Ume trees serves as a precursor of the sakura season, which normally start blooming in late March through the middle of April. In Japan, this flowering transition are associated with the relic like ” Ume wa saitaka sakurawa madakina“. It roughly means “Ume now in full bloom, but Sakura not yet”. Under this seasonal atmosphere, in Asakusa, we met fourteen people at Kaminarimon Gate and started our 90-minute tour. Going by the name as Thunder Gate, or Kaminarimon Gate, this Buddhist gate have been an instrument in symbolizing Asakusa. Actually, the image is used on the cover of Japanese guidebook or souvenir’s package designs. Built in 10 centuries, this religious building accompanying with two statues, A God of Thunder and A God of […]

Tour Report of The East Garden of the Imperial Palace on February 22.

  • 2020.02.24

Thank you for choosing our tours at The East Garden of the Imperial Palace on February 22. We welcomed 9 guests from Australia, Canada, Poland, Spain and UK. I hope all of you enjoyed our tour and shared with us an interesting conversation of history and culture for a few hours. We are so happy to have met you. As promised, group photos and snapshots are attached. Your feedback is important and helpful to us. If you enjoyed our tour, could you consider reviewing our tours? We would appreciate if you could post your review about our tours on our Facebook/TripAdvisor etc. Once again, thank you for choosing Tokyo Free Walking Tour during your precious time in Tokyo. By the way, two days ago The Japan Weather Forecast Association announced that the Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo would begin on March 15. This is the earliest first day of the Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo. For your convenience, we plan to make more tours to enjoy it. Please visit our website and check our tour calendar! We look forward to meeting you in the most beautiful season of  Japan. Posted by Yumi.H

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