Tour Report on october 14, 2017

Thank you very much for your participation in our tour on October 14. We had 49 guests exceeding our expectation in spite of somewhat drizzling weather. The guests were from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa which were divided into four groups.  I hope you could enjoy the moment with us and the exciting instant kimono afterwards.

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One of the pleasures of travel is eating delicious food. In Japan there are approximately 32,000 ramen noodle restaurants. Ramen is very popular and considered a national dish. I have never heard anyone who dislikes ramen.
Eight most Tokyo’s representative ramen restaurants join each other in Tokyo Ramen Street in the Yaesu side exit(Basement level) of Tokyo Station. .                                            The origin of ramen is not clear but ‘Rairaiken’ in Asakusa seems to have started in 1910. Before that all noodles are considered brought from China as ramen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters for Lo-Mein and ramen developed in its unique way in Japan.

So much for the history. Eight ramen restaurants at Tokyo Ramen Street compete each other and are proud of their tastes. The price is identical for about 1,000 yen. Each one has their own originality by using such as beef tongue, pork bone or vegetables. There are two types of ramen. One is the noodles in the broth which is conventional, while tsukemen(dipping noodles) separate the noodles from the broth.
Among these ramen restaurants Rokurinsha is most popular specializing in tsukemen. Cold noodles and warm broth are in the separate bowl. The soup is rich and the noodles are extra thick. Just dip the noodles in the broth and eat. The inexperienced can easiy grab the thick noodles with chopsticks and enjoy the chewy taste. One of the merits of tsukemen is to appreciate the materials of the noodles compared with those already mixed with the broth. In the broth is a green onion, a slice of chashu pork and fermented bamboo etc. Wait in the queue, follow the kind staff and order from a vending machine by looking at the photo. No English menue is needed.

ramen4Ramen 3.1

The problem is that because it is one of the Tokyo’s famous ramen restaurants, you may likely have to wait in the long queue such as 30 minutes or more. It’s worth the wait though. If you don’t want to wait, you may come in the morning to avoid the long queue since they are open from 7:30am to 11:00pm (except 10:00am-11:00am). Or try the other ramen restaurants at the street. They are also just as good as Rokurinsha with not too long waiting line.

How about joining our tour at the Imperial Palace before or after dropping in at Tokyo Ramen Street?

(Posted by Yoshi)

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Tour Report on October 12, 2017(Weekday Tour : East Gardens of the Imperial Palace )

Thank you very much for all our guests who joined “October 12, East Gardens of the Imperial Place Tour”

We had 12 guests from Spain, Russia, USA, Australia, Italy and France.                      We divided them into 2 groups before our starting.

It was a little hot day. We enjoyed the tour and we could feel the autumn.                 We imagined the autumn day of 300 years ago inside the East Gardens.

 

In Japan,  autumn is a nice season for traveling. Comfortable temperature, pleasant humidity, blue sky, huge harvest,  delicious fruits, beautiful scenery of mountains, etc.

TFWT’s regular tour of the East Garden of the Imperial Palace is held every Saturday 13:00-15:30. You are in Tokyo, please come and join our tour.

We guides are always looking forward to seeing you.

(posted by Keiko N.)

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Tour Report on 7-October, 2017, Saturday

Thank you the guests who kindly joined our tour on 7th of October. We had 22 guests from nine countries, divided by four groups.

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Autumn has come here in Tokyo. It was very chilly day on Friday. On Saturday, it rained in the morning, but turned lovely day with sunshine in the afternoon. It was a best day for walking tour! I give you one good knowledge for visiting Japan in autumn. Everybody knows the cherry blossom flower (Sakura) in Japan bloom in spring, but do you know we can see it in autumn as well? It is called Jugatsu-zakura, which blooms in October. It blooms twice in a year, one in spring and one in autumn. Some article says Sakura originally bloomed in autumn and its DNA has gradually changed blooming in spring only. It means such Jugatsu-zakura keeps original character. We can see such Sakura in our tour, after entering the Otemon gate’s reception, near Sannomaru Museum.

Recently we can smell a fragrant olive (Kinmokusei in Japanese). When we smell this, we recognize the autumn has come. I like it very much, not only the smell itself but also the language of the flower: noble, modesty, truth, first love and intoxication. Yes, we can smell it some part of our tour, so you can notice the visit of autumn like Japanese people does.

Kinmokusei

Kinmokusei (a fragrant olive)

(Posted by Katsumi)

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We have a regular tour every Saturday and have weekday/Sunday tours irregularly.
Please check the calendar on our websitefacebook and tripadvisor.

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Notice : Weekday Tour on Thursday, October 12 . “The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace”

・Date/Time : Thu. Oct. 12, 2017 ( 10:00―12:00 )

・Meeting Place : Tokyo Station Marunouchi Central Gate (ground floor)

[more on where to find us]

・We leave at 10:00. Please take care to arrive on time !

・Participation Fee : Free

・Reservation : Not required

・Participants : Foreign tourists and residents, and their accompanying

Japanese friends, families, etc.

 

For more information on our tour please visit our website, facebook,

And TripAdvisor page !

 

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Tour Report on 30 September 2017

We thank all the guests joining our East garden of Imperial Palace tour on Sep. 30.

It was  cloudy. But it got fine at the beginning of tour and good condition. Summer has gone!
We welcomed 45 guests from 13 countries.
We divided into 6 groups and started from Tokyo station. Every group walked around Marunouchi area. During the tour in Marunouchi we saw some wedding ceremonies.
Now Japan is the best season for wedding. There are a lot of wedding ceremonies in autumn.

9.30_Aグループ集合写真2

Speaking of autumn, in Japan we think autumn is a perfect season to have a good appetite. We call this “Autumn appetite.”

The reasons are
1. Many ingredients come into season in autumn.
2. Japanese summer is terrible hot and wet. Japanese people intend to lose appetite in  summer.
3. When it gets cool in autumn, people feel hungry.

If you want to feel Japanese Autumn appetite, I strongly recommend to eat a “Sanma-Shioyaki”
Sanma is a slender shaped fish which is called Pacific saury in English. Shioyaki is one of the cooking way to grill ingredients with salt. “Sanma -Shioyaki” means ” salted and grilled Pacific saury.”

IMG_1860
The best season of eating Sanma is autumn. Its nourishment reach a peak. So we enjoy grilled Sanma with grated Daikon radish and half cut of Japanese citrus Kabosu on the side.
Let’s try!

(Posted by Y. Hino)

 

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Asakusa Tour Report on Sept.27, 2017

Many thanks for joining our tour in Asakusa on Set. 27. We welcomed three people from Argentina and Italy. Weather was fine and pretty comfortable. Asakusa Streets were crowded with people despite a weekday.

Sensoji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple which attracts 30 million domestic and overseas visitors every year. The principal building is the main hall. It has been worshipped by many people for 1400 years and developed in spite of the repeated fires and destruction during WW2. The current building was reconstructed in 1958 after the war. Inside the hall the Buddhist statue, goddess of mercy is housed. Asakusa flourished thanks to this image. This is the treasure of the temple as well as Asakusa.

The gold statue was discovered by the two fishermen in the nearby Sumida River and protected by the village chief about 1,400 years ago. It is officially unknown where it came from but we can say that Buddhism quickly penetrated into the country just about 70 years after it was introduced into Japan from India via China.
Then a priest, founder of Sensoji Temple, Shokai Shonin built a Kannon-do Hall to enshrine the statue which later bacame Sensoji Temple. He decided as a devine message that the statue should be absolutely withheld from public view. Since then his rule remains in place until today and no one has ever been allowed to see it.
After that Ennin, the outstanding priest of Tendai School of Buddhism in the Heian period carved the substitute of the original statue and dislayed it to allow people to worship. This lead to the development of Sensoji Temple.

In Japan most of the hidden Buddhist statues are unveiled to the public on specific days but some including Sensoji Temple are strictly hidden from people due to the religious reasons. In stead the substitute is revealed to the public once a year or every several years. Sensoji Temple displays its replica to the public once a year on December 13. Zenkoji Temple in Nagano known for its historic Buddhist image exhibits its reproduction once every seven years.
Why don’t you come to Asakusa, go together to Sensoji Temple and pray.  Joining your hands at the main hall will make you feel refreshed and restore a peaceful and comfortable state of feeling.

(posted by Yoshi)

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Asakusa Tour Report on Sept 24, 2017

Thank you for joining our tour in Asakusa on September 24. It was lovely weather at the beginning of autumn. We welcomed seven friendly people from Britain, Mexico, Uruguay and Philippines. Nakamise shopping street was congested with people as usual.

A group,B groupC group 集団

‘Kappabashi Tool Street’ is known as Japan’s largest kitchen tool street. Annual festival will be held from Oct.6 until Oct.12. Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather,particularly during the holiday weekend with the events and parades. There are about 170 specialized shops and most of them will have a sale. Kitchen utensils will be available at reasonable prices. You may be able to find a bargain.

St. 1

The categories of products are everything needed by restaurants  without fresh food. You will find specialized stores such as dishes, pans and plastic food samples. Plastic food samples of sushi and tempura look interesting, real and delicious. They are an ideal souvenir for tourists to buy. When you are tired, a fashionable cafe is available.

                                                               (  Maiduru pro)
The origin of the street is that several people started the second-hand tool shops in 1912. ‘Kappabashi’ is named after a merchant Kihachi ‘Kappa’ya(raincoat seller) who was engaged in   the waterway project 200 years ago. However, the street people took the different ‘Kappa'(the same pronunciation), water-dwelling creature of the Japanese folklore and its statue was erected as an official mascot, because Kappa is considered to bring business prosperity. Interestingly a cucumber is said to be Kappa’s favorite food(vegetarian?)

Kappa2

Kappabashi is located near Asakusa about 10 minutes walk from Sensoji Temple toward Ueno. If you are around, Kappabashi Tool Festival is really unique and recommendable to visit.

(posted by Yoshi)

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Tour Report on 23 September 2017

We thank many guests joining this tour On that day we welcomed 28 guest from USA, UK, Israel, Italy, Indonesia, Philippine, Australia, Nederland, and Romania. It was a little hot but not so humid.

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We then divided into 4 groups. One of the group has 4 cute child guests so the guides of the group entertained them by using stamp rally so that the children would not be bored. That is our way of hospitality.

That day was National Holiday called Shuubunno-hi, Autumn Equinox Day. In a period around that day, the length of day and night becomes almost the same. That is the start of Autumn season in calender. But this is not cheerful holiday rather it is time to visit family graves and worship ancestors and comfort their spirits. In March we have the  other Equinox Day, that is called Shunbunno-hi, Spring Equinox Day. That is the beginning of Spring time. Both Equinox periods are called Higan in Japan. It is said that heat and coldness do not last over Higan periods. After the both Higan, climate becomes milder and more comfortable to go out. It is the best season for sightseeing. We expect more people joining the tour in coming months.

Japan has four seasons except Southernmost prefecture, Okinawa, whose climate zone is subtropical. Every time season changes the colors of the landscapes changes and new flowers blossom. But that is not always fun because every time that happens we have to adjust our bodies to changing temperature and humidity.

Since Autumn Equinox Day, the temperature is dropping dramatically. Even it is hot in daytime, nighttime can be cold. So please take care of yourself with clothing. Wearing a light jacket all the time is highly recommended.

We are looking forward to seeing you in great season.

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Tour Report on Thursday, September 21 (Weekday Tour)

Tokyo Free Walking Tour thanks all 8 wonderful guests, who joined the tour on September 21. It was a sunny day with slightly strong winds.

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Seeking a Simple Life

Last month I personally attended a summer programme on environmental ethics in Finland. Environmental ethics is a field of philosophy emerged in 1970s that studies the moral relationship between human beings and natural environment.

In this course, the teacher mentioned a theory of Deep Ecology by Arne Naess, a philosopher from Norway (1912-2009). The basic characteristic of his theory is human-in-ecosystem image; it considers human beings and all living things as elements that are related with each other, like ‘knots’ in a net. Naess criticises conventional ecology as ‘Shallow Ecology’ in that it is based on the idea that human beings are separated from nature. In his words, we should ‘protect the planet not only for the sake of humans, but also, for the sake of the planet itself, to keep ecosystems healthy for their own sake’.

Surprisingly, Naess refers to Buddhism when he claims the importance of ‘listening with the third ear’. When it comes to Japan, the spirit of Zen Buddhism might have similarity to the Deep Ecology philosophy.

Zen is a sect of Buddhism that originated in China in the 6th century, and was developed in Japan by the 12th century. The principle of Zen is that everyone has potential to awake to the truth, which is covered by worldly thought in daily life. We can reach the truth only when we remove unnecessary thoughts and desires, through serenity of mind.

Zazen, sitting meditation, is a main practice of acquiring peace of mind. Through zazen activity, you can become free from daily concerns and busyness. The senses of hearing, touching and smelling are sharpened so that you can feel details of natural environment. The meditation gives us an opportunity to reconsider whole ecosystem, greatness of nature, and arrogance of humans.

 

Ninomaru Garden in Edo Castle, on our regular tour course, is said to follow Zen style of gardening. It was designed by a garden artist Enshu Kobori (1579-1647), whose accomplishments can be found all around Japan.

When you visit the garden, try to feel Zen spirit; pause, relax and control your breath. You will surely have an opportunity to rethink about natural environment, acquire humble attitude towards nature, and seek a simple life.

(Images from http://www.asoview.com/, http://www.soto-kinki.net/, http://www.irasutoya.com/)

By Hiroshi N.

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Tokyo Free Walking Tour has regular tours every Saturday and has irregular tours in weekdays and Sundays.
If you are in Tokyo, why not come and join us?
Visit our website, Facebook and tripadvisor for the latest schedule!

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Notice:Weekday Tour on Thursday, September 21, 2017

・Date/Time : Thu. Sep. 21, 2017(10:00-1200)

・Meeting Place : Tokyo Station Marunouchi Central Gate (ground floor)

・We leave at 10:00.  Please take care to arrive on time!

・Participation Fee : Free

・Reservation : Not required

・Participants : Foreign tourists and residents, and their accompanying Japanese friends,  families, etc.

For more imformation on our tour, please visit our website, facebook, and TripAdvisor page!

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