We thank 13 guests who joined this year’s last tour to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. The guests were from Austria, Australia, Greece and USA. We divided into 3 groups.
It was clear but very cold day. The East Garden will be closed from Saturday 23 December, Emperor’s birthday until opening in 2018. So no more open on Saturday this year. That is why we held the weekday tour.
Unlike regular Saturday afternoon tour, the station and the East Garden were very quiet and much less crowded. Now the year end is near. You might wonder what we do in the year end period, how we are going to pass 2017 to 2018. Do we have anything like “Dinner for one” show for Europeans?
Yes, we do. We have a singing show on national broadcasting station titled “Red and White Singing Contest” on New Year’s Eve. Red and white are colors of Japan’s national flag. Popular singers in a show that red group are female, white group are male sing one by one and at last all of contestants sing Japanese version of “Auld Lang Syne”, which we call Hotaru-no-Hikari (Light of Firefly) in chorus, which is imported from Scotland, but the lyrics is not translation. Another chorus is Beethoven’s “Symphony Ninth”, which is also an imported western custom like Christmas.
What we do traditionally is towards the end of year, clean-up entire spaces of residences including corners and behind shelves. It is to remove all the dusts and garbage collected in order to make a clean start in the new year.
On New Year’s Eve, people listen to ringing of the bell from Buddhist temples, 108 times, the same number of human’s earthly desires to be removed. In passing of the two years, many people eat buckwheat noodle, called Toshikoshi Soba. Eating noodle means cutting the bad fortune line from the past.
We thank thousands of guests who took part in our tours of this year. Next tour to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace is scheduled on 6 January 2018.
We wish to meet many more guests from the globe at Marunouchi Central Gate of TOKYO STATION in the HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018.
Please remember we still have one more tour in Asakusa, this coming Sunday morning, 24 December 2017, the very final tour of this year. Please join if you want to feel traditional year-end atmosphere since Asakusa site is combination of Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine.