Tour Reports

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

Thank you for joining our tour to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on May 18.  We welcomed 28 guests from Australia, Canada, Germany, Poland, Russia, Turkey, UK, and USA. The weather was fine with a quick shower that wasn’t a big deal. We enjoyed our walking tour and great conversation very much.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our tour starts from Tokyo station and Marunouchi area followed by Edo Castle premises. Very modern buildings to historical sites.

Entering the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. That’s the former site of Edo Castle’s innermost circle of defense. Edo Castle was the residence of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. Emperor Meiji also resided there from 1868 to 1888 before moving to the newly constructed Imperial Palace.

 

(Posted by Tank)

Thank you for joining our tour. We had a great time.

WALKING IN A LUSH GREEN FOREST RIGHT AT THE HEART OF TOKYO; HARAJUKU TOUR ON MAY 19TH

Today 10 guests from Canada, Spain, Philippines and USA joined our walking tour of Harajuku. The weather forecast said that we would have a cloudy day, turning into rain in the evening. But despite the forecast the weather has been nice, sunny and warm, since morning. I hope that all the guests enjoyed the tour.

 

At this time of the year the sunlight is already strong, and will get much stronger as summer approaches. But don’t worry. Lush green forest at Meiji-Shrine and many large zelkova trees lining the Omotesando Street will give us nice shades during the tour.

It was the last day of Sanja Festival at Asakusa today, so it must have been lively but very crowded there. Here, in spite of large number of visitors coming to Meiji Shrine as usual, we still were able to conduct a calm and informative tour for visitors.

 

There is a large Iris Garden in the precinct of Meiji Shrine. The garden was originally designed by Emperor Meiji for his consort Empress Shoken.

Since ancient times Japanese people continuously loved irises and created various kinds of breeds. The garden’s irises have started from 45 Edo-breeds. Now they have expanded to 150 breeds. They will be in full bloom from the end of May until Mid-June. You have to pay 500 yen to enter the garden, but still it’s worth to see the irises when it’s in full bloom.

http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/hanashobu/

(chino)

ASAKUSA AND UENO SIMULTANEOUSLY WELCOME OUR GUESTS, 12TH OF MAY

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in Asakusa and Ueno.
On that day, May 12, we welcomed 21 guests on our walking tour.
These people came from different corners of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Singapore, Spain, U.K. and U.S.A.
am groupAguropBC集合askusa pm groupApm groupB2019-05-14_07-52-47-926
On the same day, we held our tour three times at the different locations, Asakusa and Ueno.
At first, we started our morning tour at 10:00 A.M. in Asakusa.
It began from an iconic location in the area named “Kaminarimon Gate” or Thunder Gate and ended at Asakusa Shinto Shrine.
In the shrine compound, we were able to see many festive decorations like banners and Japanese paper lanterns.


This is in preparation for an upcoming religious event called the Sanjya Festival. The cerebration will start from 17th of May and continues until 19th of this month.
The term Sanjya means three deities, who are enshrined in the Asakusa Shinto Shrine.
These deities were the ones involved in establishing the Sensoji Buddhist Temple.
As part of the celebration, three portable shrines for these deities were set up in the shrine’s storage area and open to the public.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Next, we have implemented the simultaneous tours to efficiently use time and to mobilize our tour guides in these two locations at the same time during the afternoon.
The Ueno tour started at 1:30 PM, and so did the Asakusa tour at 1:00 PM.
Observing the influx of people coming from the Ueno Station entrance, we began waiting for the participants of the Ueno tour for the afternoon.
The temperature of the day already rose to 25 degrees Celsius, and it was slightly humid.
Our tour guides, and 4 guests converged in front of the train station at around 1:30 in the afternoon.
After greeting each other, we started our stroll towards the Tokyo Cultural Theater, one of the most notable opera houses in Tokyo.
After introducing this distinguished theater to the guests, we continued to tour around 16 notable spots of interest in the Ueno Park for 90 minutes.
Known as the “Village of Culture” and as described in one of our previous blog posts, Ueno Park is huge enough to accommodate many attractions, including art museums, a zoo, a Buddhist temple, a Shinto shrine, and other notable locations.


In the green and peaceful ground, visitors of the park and the participants of the Ueno Tour were able to witness stage performances held in the fountain square in front of Tokyo National Museum.
The aim of these performances is to give opportunities for people visiting the park to see various types of dance like hip-hop, jazz, and yosakoi, a traditional Japanese dance; performed by selected dancers of various generations and nationality.
The event is also a great way to connect people from all walks of life.

Well, choosing your ideal location in Tokyo can be taxing, and so is spending an entire day walking around this highly urbanized city, unplanned and without aim.
For people wishing to experience a unique daytime trip in Tokyo, the Asakusa and Ueno tours are for you.
The Asakusa tour starts at 10:00 AM, 1:00 PM and the Ueno tour starts at 1:30 PM.
We are sure that this new tour schemes will be of interest to you.
(By arac)

TOUR REPORT ON THE EAST GARDENS OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE MAY 11,2019

Thank you for joining our tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on May 11. We welcomed 39 guests from U.S.A., Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Canada, Russia, UK, Brazil, Peru, Netherland, Poland, and Mexico. The guests are divided into 5 groups.

A 集合.jpgC集合D集合.JPG

The weather was very hot but dry and a little windy. It wasn’t so hard to get sweaty. The maximum temperature was 28 degrees. It was the hottest day of this year. It seemed to be early summer.

The KITTE building is one of the great view points of Tokyo Station.

Tokyo Station is the starting point of our tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. Tokyo station was restored to the original state 7 years ago. Station square was also renovated at the end of 2017. Many buildings surrounding Tokyo Station have been rebuilt in the past 17 years. Therefore the scenery surrounding this area has changed dramatically. The KITTE building located across the Marunouchi south exit of Tokyo Station was built and opened in 2013. The KITTE building was built at the place of former Tokyo Central Post Office. The former building was built in 1931 and evaluated as one of the buildings representing modernized architecture in the early Showa period. A part of the exterior wall of the old building is restored to its original state and preserved. The KITTE building has roof garden on the 6th floor. This garden is small (about 1,500 square meters) but a variety of trees and turf are planted and several benches are placed at this garden. You may be able to get comfortable field of view. This observatory command panoramic view of Tokyo Station and the modern tall building surrounding it.

From the KITTE garden, you can see beautiful scenery not only during the day but also at night. Tokyo Station is illuminated from sunset to 9p.m. . The KITTE garden has been designated as a night view inheritance of Japan since August 2018.

This garden open 11a.m. to 11p.m. (weekday and Saturday), 11a.m. to 10p.m.(Sunday and holiday) and free of charge.

In addition, Tokyo central post office on the first floor of the KITTE building may be interesting place for foreign tourists. Japan Post issues 40 to 50 commemorative stamps in a year. There are a variety of commemorative stamps related to Japanese art, culture, history, nature and so on. For example, the folding screens of Wind God and Thunder God, Kabuki, and Meiji restoration as shown in the following photo. Quality of the stamp such as color, printing is very good and design is also sophisticated. These commemorative stamps are sold for each set of 10 stamps and costs 820 yen. Commemorative stamp may be one of the best souvenirs for foreign tourists. It is reasonable cost, easy to carry and showing the unique features of Japan.

Moreover, small store in the post office deals in various souvenirs such as traditional Japanese souvenirs, post office related goods such as letter goods, frame stamps, railway related goods, mascot character goods. There are many attractive goods for tourists. So the KITTE building is worth visiting to enjoy seeing panoramic view and finding attractive souvenirs.

Tokyo Central Post Office open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (weekday) and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.(Saturday, Sunday and holiday).

We are looking forward to welcoming you on our tour.

(posted by Kuma)

MAY, THE START OF A NEW IMPERIAL ERA IN JAPAN FRESH BREEZE WELCOMED OUR GUESTS

Tours coming soon are:

May 11 (Sat)

13:00 start Imperial Palace East Garden route

May 12 (Sun)

10:00 & 13:00 start Asakusa   13:30 start Ueno Park

Thank you for your joining to our Meiji Jingu Shrine & Harajuku route tour on Sunday May 5.  Lovely guests we welcomed counted 14 from all over the world, which were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, U.K. & U.S.A.

During this tour, if you are lucky possibilities are that you encounter Japanese traditional wedding ceremony procession at the Main Hall of the shrine. It is a not only impressive but a precious experience feeling you receive a small happiness from them.  Yes, we had the luck again on May 5.

IMG_6109

We also encountered a cute boy and his mom with “Koi-nobori (Carp streamer)”, symbol of May 5 “Children’s Day”.

A85742D6-5B97-4A48-811A-612BEB9EA375L0001--IMG_9510.JPG

Children’s Day, is a holiday dedicated to the health and happiness of children in Japan.

It is also called “Tango no Sekku”, it used to be a day for boy’s festival.

People put up carp-shaped streamers outside and display special dolls & decorations such as an armor, a war helmet, a doll wearing them and so on in the house, and eat

rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf called Kashiwamochi wishing descendants prosperity.

Iris leaves and roots are put into the bath expecting ward off evil spirits.

(posted by Akemi T.)

 

 

 

 

Ueno Park tour on May 12

A new walking tour will be held at Ueno Park on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month starting from May 12 at 1:30pm.

As we have the existing tour in Asakusa in the morning and afternoon on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month, you can combine the Ueno Park tour with the Asakusa morning tour if you wish. In other words, our Asakusa tour starts at 10am and finish around at 11:30 and you may move to Ueno by Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (the third stop) in time for the Ueno Park Tour. Of course, with a sufficient lunch break.

Asakusa Sensoji Temple is the Tokyo’s oldest temple known for the symbolic Kaminarimon-gate and the atmosphere of the old Tokyo remains strong. About 30 million people are said to visit the temple every year. The Japan’s oldest Nakamise Shopping street, Pagoda, huge waraji sandals and the main hall where the sacred Buddhist statures are housed.

On the other hand, Ueno Park was the site of Kaneiji Temple, the largest and family temple of the ruling Tokugawa family for 270 years during the Edo period. Apparently, the Park is a cultural mecca and has full of attractions including museums, historic buildings, Spring peony garden (until May 12, an admission fee), street performance, starbucks etc. Tokyo National Museum is currently showing the breathtaking arts from Toji-Temple Kyoto.

Now Spring is the time of matsuri(festivals) in Japan. In the shitamachi (traditional areas) on the eastern part of the city two major matsuri will be held very soon. They are shinto festivals, Kanda matsuri for Kanda Myojin Shrine and Sanja matsuri for Asakusa Shrine. The events are held on May 9-15 and May 16-19 respectively. The highlights of the matsuri are the parade of a number of powerful mikoshi(portable shrines) carried by the people through the city streets to pray for a good harvest and prosperous business. Both are the two of the most spectacular festivals in Japan. If you are around, it will be an exciting experience for you to have in Tokyo.

In addition, Japan is in a festive mood celebrating an imperial succession that occurred by abdication rather than by death. We now have a new Emperor and a new era ‘Reiwa’. Naruhito, 59 is the first Japanese emperor born after World WarⅡ. The 85-year-old former Emperor Akihito had decided to retire due to his declining fitness level and handed over his public duties to his son, Naruhito. Akihito was the first Japanese emperor to step down in about 200 years and became Emperor Emeritus. We believe that the new Emperor and Empress will be a good symbol of the nation with an international sense.

The Ueno Park tour starts on May 12 at 1:30pm and the meeting point is between the Park Exit of JR Ueno Station and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. It can be accessed from the Ueno Stations of Tokyo Metro (Ginza Line and Hibiya Line) and Keisei as well. The tour takes about two hours. We offer the enjoyable Japan experience for all the guests and believe that you will be satisfied with our guide. We are looking forward to seeing you then.

(Posted by Yoshi)

 

The memorable tour of the first day of Reiwa (May 1st, 2019)

Thank you so much for coming our memorable tour of the East Garden of the Imperial Palace on the first day of Reiwa. We welcomed 15 guests from USA, Ukraine and France. It was a memorable day! Our new Emperor Naruhito was crowned. We were so happy to have had the special tour and met you on that day!

It was rain at the early morning of the tour day. But it cleared and got warmer and warmer. Many Japanese people came to the Imperial Palace in the festive mood.

The new leaves were so green and the Azaria was so red. We enjoyed the contrast of the both colors.  

The new era name “Reiwa” is quoted from the most classical Japanese poems collection   “ Man-yo-shu”.

“Rei” means “beautiful”.  “Wa” means “harmony”.

IMG_6058

All the Japanese people expect that the new era will be peace with harmony of the beautiful mind.

Unfortunately we don’t have the regular tour tomorrow because the east garden of the Imperial Palace will be closed. However, the special greetings at the Palace are offered by The Imperial Household Agency. If you want to meet the new Emperor and Empress, go to the Palace.

Meeting time will be hold every hour from 10:00 AM to 15:00 PM on May 4th. The entrance will open at 9:30 AM.

Be sure to bring the bottle of the water and take comfortable shoes. You will have to wait long time before getting into the greeting place.

In addition, we have Maiji Shrine and Harajuku tour on Sunday morning (May 5th).  Come and join us!

Posted by Yumi.H

 

 

 

The Very Last Tour in Heisei Era, 29 April 2019, UENO Park

Thanks to 3 guests who participated in the tour from Australia and Iran. The weather was cloudy.

This was in fact the very last tour in Heisei Era. As mentioned in other articles, Japan has its own calendar year name by Emperor reigning era, so called Gengo. Until this year’s April is called Heisei. From 1989 till this year was Heisei 1 to 31. Then from May,  Gengo is changed to Reiwa. This year is Reiwa 1.

Until today’s tour, UENO Park course was conducted on irregular basis as trial. But we have decided to conduct it as regular tour, twice a month, every other Sunday afternoon. That is our new plan in Reiwa era.

One of attractions of UENO park is collection of museums along with temples, shrines, a zoo and greenery. There are 6 museums within the park premise.

Tokyo National Museum, exhibiting arts and archaeology, which is like Musee du louvre in Paris or Great Britain Museum in London,

national museum

National Museum of Nature and Science

science museum

The National Museum of Western Art, mainly painting exhibition, which is like Musee d’orsay in Paris. The building was designed by Swiss architect, Le Courbusier and designated as the World Heritage site.

western art

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

metropolitan art museum

The Ueno Royal Museum

royal museum

Museum of Down Town Customs, which exhibit old time common people’s livelihood.

In addition to these, just near the park, only a few minutes walk from the park is Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens, former residence of family who owned Mitsubishi Conglomerate, which exhibits real remain of the old time Japan’s high-society life.

The residence consists of western style mansion and traditional Japanese house. It was built in 1896. Visitors enjoy gorgeous exterior and interior using costly materials. The family no longer reside there since after the second world war ended. Mitsubishi Conglomerate was dismantled for democratisation and redistribution of Japan’s wealth. The family had to give up their huge area and house of their residence. Now it is owned by Tokyo city.

So it was like Japanese version of “Gone with the Wind”, the world renowned novel and the film based on what happened to Southern plantation owner family during American Civil War period.

During the time the family resided in the house, social inequality of Japan was huge. The family hired 50 servants and the residence had an independent generation system while poor commoners sometimes had to sell off their children to earn living.

That should not happen any more. Museums are where you can learn the old things to know what to do for the better future. We should strive to create better future.

Life in Heisei era ends in April and then new life in new era starts.

Like famous words in the film “Gone with the wind,”

“After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Please come and join us on new days in new era!

(Posted by Masa)

 

The Last Regular tour in Heisei Era, 28 April 2019, Asakusa Temple & Shrine

Many thanks to 9 guests in the morning and afternoon tours at Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine in Asakusa town. Our guests were from Hong Kong, Italy, Estonia, Finland and Israel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was really clear and dry Sunday, which was very suitable for walking tour. We were glad to have wonderful guests in a very great moment in our history.

The tours were very historic in the sense that these tours have become our last regular tours in Heisei Era. Heisei is Japan’s own calendar year name officially used along with Gregorian calendar. Heisei started from 1989 when Emperor Hirohito, father of current Emperor died and the current Emperor, Akihito ascended to the throne. Then this year was 31st year from 1989, which is Heisei One.

On 30 of April, Emperor Akihito abdicated, and then next day, 1 of May new Emperor Naruhito ascends to the throne. This Enthronement day is start of new calendar year name, Reiwa. This year 2019, is marked as Heisei 31 and Reiwa 1. It sounds complicated so that is why we use Gregorian calendar together.

Due to such big events, from this weekend to next weekend and following Mondy, 6 of May, are holidays. Japanese enjoy 10 consecutive holidays. So the atmosphere of the city is very relaxing.

On that day back side of the main temple pavilion there held Crying baby Sumo tournament. This is the sumo tournament in which two babies carried by sumo wrestlers face each other and then whichever cries first becomes a winner.

496765A8-3A33-4219-A5CB-155FDEFCF91CL0001--IMG_9271.JPG

This is due to saying “A crying baby can grow healthy.”

But if a grown-up person wants to cry like a healthy baby, there is a very suitable place just near the temple across the Sumida river. That is the SKY TREE, which we describe during the tour because it is very visible from where we walk on.

It is 634 meters high, the world’s second tallest human-made structure. Sky Tree is matched with Sensoji Temple’s five story-pagoda because top floor of the pagoda signifies Sky in Buddhism. From the observatory deck in the tower, you can see the whole of Tokyo city. The two of our guiding sites are seen in the same window from there. One green spot in front is Asakusa, Sensoji Temple and one in the back is Ueno Park, which is scheduled to be a new regular tour in Reiwa Era.

uenoasakusa

If you have a fear of heights, this is definitely a place to cry out. Not just window view but there is a glass floor that lets you view 350 meters below your feet.

IMG_20190406_162828

After or before Asakusa tour, it is recommended to visit Sky Tree so that you can enjoy the both sites at fullest.

We wish to have greater tours in a brand new era. Please come and join our regular tours in Reiwa era.

(Posted by Masa)

Tour report on THE EAST GARDEN OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE on 2019.4.27

Thank you for joining TFWT hosted tour visiting the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on April 27. We welcomed 13 guests from Finland, USA, France, Australia, Hong Kong, UK, Germany and The Philippines.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now in Japan, we are all excited about advent of new Japanese era, Reiwa, which is effective on 1st May. Japan is a unique country in the sense that we deploy two different calendars, western and Japanese own calendar or Gengo. This Gengo can be described as the name of emperor’s reign and only changed when a new emperor is ascended the throne in accordance with the current Japanese law.

However, in the past, it was changed multiple times for a variety of reasons within the same emperor’s reign. For example, in Meiwa 9 (1772), a major conflagration swept through the central parts of Edo (current Tokyo) which left around 20,000 deaths including 4,000 who went missing. This great fire of Meiwa is later presumed as one of the three greatest fires happened during the Edo period (1603 – 1868). Confronting this massive disaster, people started rumoring “The great fire happened because of GengoMeiwa 9, which sounds exactly same as the Japanese word: “Meiwaku” or “In trouble!!”.  Meiwa was immediately abolished and replaced by new GengoAnei”.

While writing this article, I just realize my home is located in vicinity to the place where the great fire of Meiwa broke out. I do hope this is just a coincidence and no big disaster will occur in the upcoming new period of Reiwa. Wish you all Happy New Japanese Year!

(Posted by Kenta)