Tour Report on 21 January 2017, Saturday
- East Gardens of the Imperial Palace
On that day we welcomed 32 guests from USA, Singapore, France, New Zealand, Australia, Phillipines, Taiwan, Argentina, Vietnam, Sweden and Indonesia. We divided into 4 groups.
It was a cold and windy day but the sky was very clear.
We are always pleased with a lot of people from all over the world joining this tour.
Interestingly, it was very difficult for people from overseas to visit this country during which the East Garden was the feudal lord’s castle not only because travel methods were limited but Japan in that era forbade foreigners access to Japanese territory. Japanese authority feared imperialist invasion. Not just forbidding foreigners’ access but Japan had forbidden Catholism within its nation.
That part of the history was made into major Hollywood film, titled “Silence” and is now shown worldwide. Last November the film was premiered in Vatican city. It was filmed by Catholic director, Martin Scorsese. The story is based on a novel by Japanese Christian novelist, Endo Shusaku. He read the novel almost 3 decades ago and was very much impressed. Pope Francis said had read the novel as well. The story is that two Catholic priests smuggled into Japan to search for their missing mentor who was reported to have renounced faith. They also tried to save Japanese Christians who secretly prayed Jesus. Then they faced brutality of Japanese authority which tried to exclude Christianity from Japan.
Although it was a fiction but the novelist wrote the story based on real people. The main character, Sebastiao Rodrigues was modeled after an Italian priest who did the same thing in that era and ended his life in Japan. His grave and memorial stand at the Dentsuji-Temple in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.
You can learn what he might have experienced during those days by the film. You can learn how the atmosphere of that time in Japan was like as well. That is what we mainly describe during the tour. We highly recommend you to see the film before joining the tour. Please be aware the film contains very brutal scenes.
In modern Japan, many, many foreigners come and enjoy Japan freely. Not just this tour but other places as well, like Kyoto for the old temples and shrines and Nagano prefecture for skiing and snowboarding.
This time of the year, in one village in Nagano, called Nozawa Onsen, 5 hour bus ride from Tokyo is full of foreigners mainly from Australia. For Australians, Nozawa Onsen has become second biggest ski resort to Niseko, Hokkaido, 2 hour flight from Tokyo. Nozawa looks more traditional and less commercial than Niseko for them. The village has a great ski field. They come and enjoy skiing or snowboarding. Everywhere in the snow field and streets, most of people are foreigners. Surprisingly the snow village turned to be one in Switzerland.
Japan is open to the world. We are friendly to everyone. We are living in great time in history. Japan is not only for Japanese nationals to enjoy but other people in the world. We welcome you all!