Ueno Park

St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17/Ueno Park tour on March 21

Ueno Park

Thank all of you for joining our tour at Meiji shrine and Harajuku area on March17. The weather was perfect in the beginning of Spring. We had 16 friendly guests from America, Australia and UK. I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us.

Meiji Shrine was constructed about 100 years ago and is dedicated to the souls of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The shrine is the most popular destination during the new year days. The torii gate unique to a shrine and represents the border between the actual world and sacred world.

The massive display is the sake barrels which were donated by sake manufacturers across the country. There are approximately 200 barrels. Each barrel can contain 72 liters but all of them are empty. Sake is rice wine. Rice and Shinto shrine have been inseparable from the ancient times. The fundamental function of the shrine is to pray for the good harvest of rice. Rice and sake are offered to shrines at the time of a good harvest.

Purification is an essential element at a shrine. Before visiting the main hall, it is a tradition for visitors to follow the ritual practice to cleanse their hands and mouths at the purification pavilion. Now as you feel refreshed, let’s go to the main building to make a wish.

We saw the cars at the pavilion waiting for the purification rite to eliminate traffic accidents.
Of course, there is no guarantee for no accidents but the ritual by the shrine priest can get you feel comfortable. The writer used to follow this tradition. In addition, wedding couples paraded with their parents and relatives in front of the main building. This is a common scene at the shrine on weekends. A bride usually wears a white hood called ‘Tsunokakushi’ which represents hiding a horn. The horn makes people uncomfortable. By having a hood, the bride holds the feeling of jealousy and become modest and obedient to her husband. This tradition stays in the modern society. Why not men having the same thing?

Takeshita Street is full of street fashion targeting to the teenagers and always crowded. There are 130 shops on a narrow 400-meter street. They are mostly clothing, shoes and accessory shops but in recent years the street became commercialized with fast food restaurants, crepe and cotton candy shops etc. Also, there are dog and cat cafés as well. I hope it was an interesting experience for you to enjoy walking with the ‘teenagers’ and suppose you felt younger than you were.

March 17 was the St. Patrick’s Day and the parade was held on Omote Sando street at Harajuku after our tour had been completed. It is customary to wear green clothing and accessories to respect the symbolic color of the greenish island of Ireland. This is the annual event held in Tokyo since 1992. Many people participated wearing green things during the parade. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

TFWT is going to hold a walking tour at Ueno Park on March 21 at 1pm. Ueno Park has the historic temples and shrines as well as museums. In addition, the park is famous for a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spot in Tokyo and the most symbolic cherry tree, Somei-yoshino is just about to bloom. The blooming peak may be at the end of the month or beginning of April depending on the weather. The meeting place is between Park Exit of JR Ueno Station and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. It will be accessed from Ueno Stations of JR, Tokyo Metro Ginza/Hibiya Line and Keisei Line. The tour takes about two hours. Join us to enjoy nature and culture at Ueno Park.

(posted by Yoshi)