Tour Reports

LAST MINUTES “TSU YU” EXPERIENCE :   JULY 14th ASAKUSA & UENO TOUR

We  Tokyo-Free-Walking-Tour welcomed cumulative total number of 17 guests from Spain(6), UK(3), Canada(2), Austria(2), Germany(2) and France(2) to Asakusa morning / afternoon tour & Ueno Park tour held on July 14th Sunday. 

We appreciate a lot for all of the guests joining our tours and would like to express special thanks to the guests who joined plural tours of us!!

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Above mentioned each area has their own unique history and traditional culture.  We have been expanding our activity from East Garden of Imperial Palace to the other areas and now we came to cover total four tours in Tokyo as shown in the map.   As you can see, Asakusa and Ueno Park are just near by which enables efficient combination.  We hope all of guests had memorable experience at our tours.

We have now a special plan of Weekday tour on coming July 17th at East Garden of Imperial Palace.  Please check “tour calendar” of this site for detail. 

Map2.002   By the way, now is still in “Tsu Yu” or rainy season in Japan.   The day was light rainy day, unfortunately.   However, good point is, this level of rain sometimes makes young green leaves more brilliant and attractive.    Also, “Tsu Yu” is a very important period for Japan to obtain a lot of water for rice cultivation and for drinking water.   From this point of view, this year is perfect!!   

Now,  “summer” must have approaching just around the corner.   Because, July 21th is the typical day of the end of “Tsu Yu” in Tokyo area based on statistics. 

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Well, let me introduce one of traditional Japanese useful tool to travel comfortably  in Japan during coming hot summer season.     That is; Folding  fan called  “Sen-su”.    Various kinds of attractive drawings or characters are displayed on them.    You can find many kinds at souvenir shops and/or even in 100 yen shop!!     In addition, the shape of fan is said a “good luck charm”, because the width becomes wider and wider toward to the top.  I recommend you to get some during your stay in Japan not only for souvenir but also for your own use to make yourself comfortable!!

(posted by Masao)

MOST BEAUTIFUL FLOWER IN TOKYO SUMMER: THE EAST GARDENS OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE TOUR ON JULY 13, 2019

Thank you for joining our tour to the East garden of the Imperial Palace on July 13th.
We welcomed worldwide 12 guests from Philippine, UK, France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Finland. Divided into 3 groups with a few guides respectively. The weather was not so bad for the rainy season. Cloudy and little rain in the last minutes of the tour. 27℃ (81℉), gentle wind but very humid. We really appreciate all guest for sharing your precious time together and enjoyed our tour with the guests.

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Our tour explores Japanese modernization after middle of 19th and goes into the former Edo castle area (now the east gardens of Imperial palace). We had a pleasant conversation with our guest today, too. Sometimes a question from a guest brings us awareness. I love such exchanges very much.
In the gardens, the preparation of the Great Thanks Giving ceremony by new Emperor, so called “DAIJOSAI” in Japanese, on Nov. 14th and 15th, is on going. A restricted access area is beginning to emerge in the preparation. However, don’t worry, we carefully select the places where we can enter in and strive to provide a satisfying tour.

In Tokyo, the rainy season still continues, but it is expected that the rainy season will end in late July. When the rainy season is over, it will be summer at a stretch. This late July to August is also the fireworks season in Japan. Many large and small fireworks displays are held throughout the country. Even if it counts only the main thing, it will go up to 11 places in July and 28 places in August. For instance, in Tokyo metropolitan area,
July 20th (Sat) Adachi Fireworks Festival
July 23rd (Tue) Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival
July 27th (Sat) Sumida River Fireworks Festival
Aug 1st (Thr) Koto Fireworks Festival
Aug 3rd (Sat) Edogawa Fireworks Festival, Itabashi Fireworks Festival
Aug 10th (Sat) Jingugaien Fireworks Festival

It is said that, in 1613, Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, saw fireworks as the entertainment firstly in Japan. After that, Yoshimune Tokugawa, the 8th Shogun in 1733, was said to have launched the fireworks in the Sumida River for the repose of the dead in the famine and cholera that were prevalent at that time, the roots of the “Sumida River Fireworks Festival” . At the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, 950,000 people watch 20,000 fireworks today.

In overseas, fireworks are often launched on special days such as historic anniversary and New Year holidays, but in Japan, many fireworks are launched at this season with the meaning of calmness and coolness. In addition, Japanese fireworks are characterized by being spherical, spreading concentrically, and changing the color of stars. Of course you can also see fireworks of other shapes in the fireworks display.
Hand-held fireworks also have a different flavor from launch style fireworks. The ones I like are sparklers. When the fire is turned on, it changes with the flow of “thunder”, “peony”, “pine leaves”, “willows” and “scattered chrysanthemums”, and finally a red ball falls to the ground. I think it’s a fireworks with an ephemeral but dignified beauty.
Fireworks are called “HANABI” in Japanese, “HANA” is a flower, “BI” is fire, so literally “Fire of Flower”. It is a beautiful flower that colors Japanese summer nights.

In the daytime, you can visit Japan’s history and features on our walking tours in “The east garden of Imperial palace”, “Meiji shrine and Harajuku”, “Asakusa” and “Ueno”, and watch the large and small colorful flowers at night.
(Posted by Toyo)

Quintessential Ueno Park Tour on July 14 at 1:30pm

Welcome to Tokyo Free Walking Tour! We offer the four different walking tours in Tokyo and Ueno Park is the latest tour. Our tour is operated by the volunteer guides but all of them have unrivaled knowledge and experiences with some jokes. Since the tour usually has small groups of people, you will enjoy an intimate atmosphere with us and we won’t give boring lectures.
Ueno Park is about 140 years old and was indeed the family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan in the feudal period. Take a walk through the Park in the heart of Tokyo for about two hours and experience the fascinating nature, entertaining history, classical and modern architectures along with others. You may be able to hear something or a behind-the-scenes story you won’t find yourself.
There is no admission fee. You don’t have to book in advance and just turn up at the meeting place between Park Exit of JR Ueno Station and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan at 1:30pm tomorrow (Sunday July 14). It is accessible from Tokyo Metro and Keisei Ueno Stations as well. Incidentally Asakusa is a nearby town and you could join our Sensoji Temple tour at 10am and continue to come to Ueno. Please refer to our Website for details. We will be looking forward to seeing you and enjoying the exciting tour with you at Ueno Park tomorrow (July 14).

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(posted by Yoshi)

 

July 7 Meijijinngu and Harajuku tour: It rained here How was it at the Milky Way?

Today it rained continuously during the tour and we felt chilly for the month of July. Despite the weather we could welcome 11 guests at the starting point, the first Torii gate of the Meijijingu shrine. All the guests were from USA except for a guest from Germany.

We divided the guests into four small groups, 2 or 3 guests for each, so that our guides could be as attentive as possible to each individual guest.

 

The shrine’s inner garden and the Takeshita-dori Street seemed to be a little bit less crowded than usual. That was good for us as we always held umbrellas during the tour.

Meijijingu shrine:

Harajuku  Takeshita-dori Street:

We noticed a bamboo ornament for Tanabata festival at the Shrine gate and another at Takeshita-dori. Tanabata(七夕) festival, held on the 7th day of the 7th month, is one of the traditional five seasonal festivals.

In the summer night sky you can see two bright stars, Vega and Altair, facing each other at the opposite side of the Milky Way.

According to the legendary tale, Orihime-star(Weaving Princess, Vega) and Hikoboshi-star(Cowherd, Altair) once got married but were separated by the God of Heaven for some reason. After that they were allowed to meet only once a year, on 7th of July.

A legendary tale says that when it rains on that day Orihime cannot cross the Milky Way to meet Hikoboshi as the water level of the Milky Way gets too high.

Today people write their wishes on colored paper strips and hang them on bamboo branches to celebrate Tanabata. The custom started in Edo period. At that time people wished only to improve their literature skills. Today they can wish for everything!

(Posted by Chino)

Tour Report on Jul. 6th (Tour of The East Garden of the Imperial Palace)

Thank you for joining our tour of the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on Jul. 6th. We had 22 guests. They were from Australia(3), Brazil(2), Canada(5), Germany(1), Sweden(2) and U.S.A.(9).

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Even though in the middle of the rainy season, it did not rain and was luckily cooler than usual. Our guests enjoyed taking pictures of historic sites covered by verdure.

The Star Festival called “Tanabata” based on the legend from China is held on the night of Jul. 7th in Japan.

The legend is about a young couple who were separated on each side of the river. They worked hard to be allowed to meet each other once a year. Nowadays, the couple eventually changed into two stars laying along the Milky Way and people celebrate it by writing down their wishes on narrow long paper slips. Slips are hung on bamboo branches, so that their wishes will change into smoke and reach the stars to come true. These bamboos are set in many places and make people delight even in the rainy season.

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( by Rei )

Enjoyed green in the heart of Tokyo: The East Garden of Imperial Palace Tour on June 29, 2019

Thank you for joining our tour to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on June 29. We welcomed 15 guests from UK(2), Spain(3), USA(5), Germany(1), Canada(2), and Argentina(2). We divided them in to 4 groups. The weather was raining at the beginning but the rain let up during our tour.

Once we got into East Garden, we totally forgot we were in the center of Tokyo. It was totally covered with fresh and bright green, the moisture helped to make its green much more vibrant. In the main field of East Garden, the construction for new Emperor’s traditional ceremony, Dijyo-sai, in November is on going, but we could cover the most of the viewpoints of the tour.

East Garden is originated by Edo-Jyo (Edo Castle). Although there is some reconstructed old buildings, it remains mostly original Edo-Jyo’s stonewalls. Walking in the East Garden requires your imagination like how was the Japanese life, how was the social systems, how the Edo-Jyo was on those days and etc. This tour is not only 2 hours garden walk but also a trip to Edo era in your mind.

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All of our 4 groups enjoyed walking trough the moisture forest. Our tour is mostly held in 3 to 5 guests with 2 to 3 guides sharing about East Garden, Edo Castle, and Japanese history. During our tour, we welcome our guests to share about Japan, so whatever you want to know about Japan it may be a great timing to clear your wonders on Japan out. Some asked about greeting phrase in Japanese, others asked about commuting, family events… It will be beyond guidebooks. It is the most pleasant moment for us to ensure our guests discover “Japan”.

(Reported by Norico)

WELCOMED 20 GUESTS FROM HAWAII : JUNE 25 ASAKUSA PRIVATE TOUR

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Tokyo Free Walking Tour provides with 4 route tours regularly:

  • East Gardens of the Imperial Palace (Saturday, weekly & weekday once a month)
  • Asakusa (Sunday, bi-weekly)
  • Meiji Jingu Shrine & Harajuku (Sunday, bi-weekly)
  • Ueno (Sunday, bi-weekly)

(Please refer to our calendar : https://tfwt.jp/tour-calendar/)

In addition to regular tours listed above, TFWT also offers private tours based on request, but only if we can arrange tour guides.

The Asakusa tour held on June 25 was the good example.

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We welcomed 20 guests from Hawaii, who were participants of  “The 2019 Summer Study Tour To Japan, Pacific Asia Administrative Council” including 17 selected students from all over Hawaii and 3 senior leaders.  Traveling multiple places in Japan for two weeks and having lots of activities, they selected our tour as one of the last day events.  We feel honored that they choose our tour.

Luckily it was a comfortable sunny day during an early summer rainy season.

20 guests, divided into 4 groups, enjoyed with site view and local shopping.

We were impressed with their excellent manner and eagerness to know new things.

This time we had more than a month lead time for coordination.  But please do not hesitate to send us refer if you are interested in our walking tour but your schedule does not allow you to attend our regular tour.

(Reported by Akemi)

Let’s enjoy rainy season in Japan:   June 23 ASAKUSA & UENO tour

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Thank you for your participation to “Tokyo Free Walking Tour – Asakusa Route & Ueno Route” on June 23 Sunday.  We welcomed 20 guests from Australia, Bulgaria, Germany, India, Switzerland, UK & USA.

The clouds hang low all day, thus during the tours we worried when it starts to rain.

But the deity of weather was on our side!

 

Probably you might be aware that it is the rainy season in most part of Japan right now and we’ve been having humid weather.  Does this sound depressing? That makes sense. But let me share you some enjoyments during rainy season.

The early summer rainy season is called tsuyu and written with kanji characters meaning plum rain. Because it is the when plum trees bear fruit.  Water plants produces beautiful flowers, such as irises and water lilies.

Fireflies can be added to the attractiveness of this season.  They can be found flying about at night near the clean water’s edge, while emitting light from their lower abdomens.  The myriads of tiny blinking lights creates fantastic atmosphere.

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Special ceremonies “Chinowa kuguri” are held at shrines on the last day of June as it marks the halfway point of the year. Stepping through a large hoop made of kaya (pampas-like grass) that is placed in the shrine land is said to expel misfortune.

 

Hope you enjoy Japan even on rainy days

(Reported by Akemi)

ENJOYED CHATTING IN RAINY DAY REPORTING FROM THE EAST GARDENS OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE (JUNE.22)

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Working Tour on June.22.
We welcomed a total of 30 guests from: UK(5), Spain(2), Sweden(4), USA(3), Russia(1), Germany(2), Australia(4), Swiss(1), Brasil(4) and Italia(4). During the tour, it rained on and off but we could enjoy the tour with all of our guests.

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Still enjoyable many blue colors in the east side of garden.  In the rainy season, multiple varieties of iris and hydrangea entertain us with raindrops.  So that you don’t need to worry about the weather in here.  Especially for the the Ninomaru-garden (Japanese artificial garden) which is configured to enjoy the view for all seasons. Actually our tour guide will never get tired of this view no matter how many times we guide here:)

Every time we guide the tour, I really enjoy chatting with our all guests. This time, I could teach small talk in Japanese for some guests because they will take exam of JLPT (Japan Language Proficiency Test) in this summer. I’m so grad to hear about it and know many people are interested in Japan. And also another guests said they bought ORIGAMI for their souvenir and one of guests said she can make some simple products. It’s also happy to hear about that our traditional toy could entertain many people in global.  Hope our guests will check this post and learn new skill of ORIGAMI 🙂

Recently, the preparation of big event Enthronement ceremony has begun in east gardens of imperial palace. 2019 is the memorial year of Japan so don’t miss it and please enjoy special atmosphere in here!

(Posted by Miyuki)

TOUR REPORT ON June 18, 2019(THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE)

Thank you for joining our tour to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on June 18.     We welcomed 21 guests from USA, UK, Israel, Italy, Canada, Taiwan, Germany, Pakistan, and Bolivia. We divided in to 4 groups. The weather was humid and  hot like summer.

We enjoyed our walking tour and wonderful conversation very much.  And we enjoyed various kind of beautiful iris flowers in Ninomaru garden. (Typical Japanese Garden)

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Introducing hot springs in Japan. We Japanese love onsen! It is not too much to say that Japan is a country of onsen (hot springs).  Japan is a volcanic country and one result of this is it has lots of onsen(hot springs). There are some 3000 hot springs around the country. The water quality is excellent as well. There are various colors of water depending on the water quality.  Although most Japanese onsen are colorless and transparent, there are white water called nigoriyu ,brown water, black water, and emerald green too.  It contains various minerals and provides a lot of medicinal benefits such as warming the body, stimulating circulation, increasing metabolism and relaxing your body and mind. People who have disease stay at bathhouse for long time to cure disease.  A lot of Japanese people enjoy hot springs for socializing and for health benefits. Most hot springs have open-air bathes called roten-buro. While bathing in a roten-buro, you can enjoy beautiful nature, the seasons and the weather all at the same time.

Some of them are in beautiful places like Kusatu Hot spring in Gunma Prefecture, Kurokawa Hot spring in Kumamoto Prefecture and Kinosaki Hot Spring in Hyogo Prefecture which is popular recently. You can enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of Japan’s good old days there. Now it is rainy season. After rainy season, we have a hot, humid summer. You can enjoy the hot spring in summer too.  It is wonderful to take a bath in a roten-buro on an early summer morning.  Why don’t you try taking a bath in many different kinds of water in Japanese Onsen?

Thanks again to all guests for joining us. We have been introducing our activities at Facebook and Trip adviser.  TFWT is going to hold a walking tours at Meiji shrine, Asakusa and Ueno Park.  Please check our website for more details.

Posted by Keiko.A