Tour Report on December 10, 2017 in Asakusa

welcome

Thank you for joining our Tokyo Free Walking Tour in Asakusa areas.
With the sunny and occasional cloudy weather, we welcomed around ten people from different parts of the world like Germany, Singapore, U.S.A., and Canada.
Group A 集合bcGroup D 集合

After the brief introduction, we went to Asakusa Information Center to look at the breathtaking view of the historical site from its rooftop.
Then, we went through Kaminarimon Gate, or Thunder Gate and proceeded to Nakamise Street.

Nakamise street is the shopping road and the approach to Sensoji Buddhist temple, which have been main landmark in Asakusa for a long time.
When we arrived at the commercial street, it was already crowded with tourist while walking through the prominent street.
A lot of sign boards hanging above this lovely street truly display the atmosphere associated with the new-year season in Japan.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another interesting topic that we talked about the upcoming New Year is “Shichifukujin”
Shichifukujin it is a compound word made up of the words “Shichi” which means “seven” and “fukujin” that translates to “lucky gods” in English.

These gods are believed to have arrived aboard a ship full of treasures and their tasks are to bring people good fortune when it comes to life and business.
Each lucky deity has his or her own characteristic feature to give people comfort and prosperity in life.
For instance, Ebisu, often depicted holding a fishing rod, is the god of fishing, commerce and agriculture.
On the other hand, Daikokuten, who is described to be standing on bags of rice, wielding a lucky hammer on one hand, and carrying a big sack on the other, is also the god of agriculture.
Likewise, other deities are also respected and celebrated as gods of longevity, marriage and academic achievements, alike.
In fact, during New Year’s season, many Japanese people visit shrines and temples that house some of these lucky statues.
This is because they want to welcome the new-year with an ideal perspective in life and business, with the help of these majestic deities. They also want to ask favors from the deities to continue granting them good fortune.
Interestingly, the name and image of Shichifukujin have been used for commercial purposes. Fukujinnzuke, a brand of pickles, which uses “SEVEN” vegetables in its products, is associated with the number of the Shichifukujin.
This brand has been deemed suitable and adds perfect flavor to curry and rice.
Why don’t you visit Shichifukujin deities in these historical areas?

(By Arac)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Notice : Weekday Tour on Wednesday, December 20, “ The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace”

Date/Time : Wed. Dec. 20, 2017 ( 10:0012:00 )

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 information on our tour please visit our website, facebook,

And TripAdvisor page. We are looking forward to seeing you soon! 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Report on 9 December 2017, the East Garden of the Imperial Palace

Thank you for joining our tour on this day. We welcomed over 25 guests from UK, Malaysia, Canada, USA, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore.

We divided into 5 groups. The weather was cold but very clear so the sunshine was strong.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a historic tour since it was the first time in 10 years of our guide history that the square in front of Tokyo Station became fully open. So no more fences and no construction yards that blocks straight-forward tour route to get out of the station. When we launched this volunteer tour, renovation construction was already underway. Guides and guests had to gather in a narrow space surrounded by fences. We now have bigger spaces to gather after the completion of renovation.

tokyo_station_full

On one corner of the station square, a statue was placed. It is the statue of INOUE Masaru, which had been displaced for years due to the renovation construction.

railwaydad2

This man is called “Father of Japan’s railways”, who was a minister of railway and contributed to establishment of  Japan’s railway network from late 19th  to early 20 th century. That was a time Tokyo Station building was established. He studied railway management in England in 19th century as Japan had thriven towards industrialization.

Thanks to him, we can travel anywhere from anywhere in Japan by getting on a train except some islands. Every day 400,000 passengers use this station for commute or travel. In such winter season, most recommended travel is ski resort with natural hot bathes. Good thing is from Tokyo station you can do that on a day trip. Suppose you are an advanced or intermediate skier or snowboarder who happens to visit Tokyo and just comes up with an idea of going skiing or snowboarding next day, but you have no more than a day to spare. What you should do is go to the travel agency office in the station building. There is one for foreigners at the Marunouchi North Entrance.

IMG_20171209_095304

You can buy a day trip package to Echigo-yuzawa Station in Niigata prefecture including round-trip Joetsu-Shinkansen (Bullet train) tickets and a lift ticket in a ski area for about 12000 yen. Next morning around 7:30 AM, you get on a bullet train and you can reach there around 9 AM. After a tunnel is the snow land!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As for skis or snowboard, wears and goggles, you can rent ones at a rental shop near the station. Shops get used to renting things to foreigners. The cost is around 5000 yen for a day.

Then they take you to a ski area by car. The most recommended in terms of scale and location is Kagura-Mitsumata. It is high on the mountain and open from November because of much snow in the highland area. The ski area is open until May. In April helicopter ski tour is held, which skiers get on a helicopter to higher altitude spot which is normally closed and then slide down on a mountain.

After enjoying the snow sports, they will pick you up there and take you back to the station or natural hot spring bath (1000 yen or less including renting of bath towels) near the station so that you can refresh and get warm. After the bathing, the return train departs around 7 PM. Then you can come back to Tokyo in the evening.

Another recommended day-trip ski or snowboard plan from Tokyo station is GALA-Yuzawa, where the station is annexed to the ski area. The facility includes restaurant, rental shop and natural hot bath. That will start operation later this month. There are many foreigners skiing or snowboarding in Japanese ski slopes. Some resorts offer English lessons by English speaking instructors. Snow sports have become major attraction in Japan’s tourism since it snows very heavily in winter. Bullet train is important for snow sports travel.

japanrailpass

As for traveling around Japan, foreigners are recommended to buy a Japan Rail Pass, you can travel around Japan by train as much as you want once you purchase that. For example bullet train ride between Tokyo and Kyoto is about 3 hours or less. You can even do a day trip to Kyoto. Tokyo Station is center of Japan’s railway network.

kyoto

That is why Tokyo Station is the very place to meet you! Not only guiding to the imperial palace but we can guide you the travel of Japan. Please ask us any question regarding traveling around Japan. We wish you Happy Travel in Japan!

P.S.  We only schedule 2 more tours to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace this year. December 16 and 20 (Wednesday). The East Garden will be closed from 23 of December. Then no more tour until after the new year opening in 2018. Please check the schedule carefully.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Report on December 2 (East Garden of Imperial Palace)

We thank all guests joining our East Gardens of Imperial Palace tour on Dec. 2.
Number of guests counted 23 from 13 countries all over the world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a lovely warm day and our guests enjoyed the tour under blue sky. Autumn foliage around the tour route were still on season.  Red and yellow colored leaves and falling leaves were shining.

DSC03584IMG_598320171202_A_004

If you stay in Tokyo this week, recommend you to visit the limited time only events at the Imperial Palace.

The Imperial Palace opens Inui Street to the public for the first time in a year and a half to let people view its autumn leaves.

IMG_5307

Visitors can walk along the 750-meter road, which runs from the entrance, Sakashita Gate, to the Inui Gate between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. from Dec. 2 until Dec. 10.  The Imperial Household stated the visitor count on the first day reached approx. 21,000 people.

IMG_5308

Imperial Palace

IMG_5316IMG_5319IMG_5324

IMG_5325

Fujimi Tamon

 

IMG_5333[1]

Path to East Garden

Following the street,  you can see a part of Imperial Palace where the royal family greet to public twice a year (Emperor’s birthday and new year on Jan. 2.  In addition to that, there are lots of view point, e.g. classic wood and stone walls, authentic gate, quiet and quaint moat, etc.

 

 

(posted by A. Toeda)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Report on December 3, 2017 in Harajyuku areas.

1129
Thank you for joining the Tokyo Free Walking Tour.
December 3rd had a fairly pleasant weather and moderate temperature.a
We welcomed around 15 guests coming from different corners of the world — USA, Germany, China, Australia and Singapore.
IMG_6096
This is the fourth tour in the locations of Meiji Jingu and Takeshita Street, which is still held on trial basis.
We, from the Tokyo Walking Tour, greatly appreciate your attendance, which is steadily increasing in number.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Majestically nested in an evergreen forest and enclosed by fresh air, the Meiji Jingu or Meiji Shrine is one of the most notable shrines in the city of Tokyo.
Although it is easily accessible from Tokyo’s busiest districts like Shinjuku and Shibuya, this location remains as a truly peaceful and sacred place of worship.
However, during the month of December, the otherwise serene Meiji Jingu transforms into a busy area, as it is the season to prepare in welcoming visitors for Hatsumode.
Hatsumode literally means “the first visit to a Buddhist temple or Shinto Shrine in the first few days of the new year”.
It is a tradition among Japanese people to visit these religious buildings and to pray to deities in hopes of good health, happiness and good fortune in the new year.
In observance of Hatsumode, devotees give money offerings, buy good luck charms and draw written oracles.

There’s a great possibility that there will be an influx of visitors during this coming new year holidays.
According to a survey among guests and pilgrims that visit this holy area, this shrine is among the top 10 must-visit religious places in Tokyo.
Normally, around 3 million people come and worship in the Meiji Shinto Shrine during New Year’s season alone.
There are many people who visit and stay in the shrine compound on the eve of January 1st, New Year’s Day, as they want to welcome and experience the New Year on the Shrine grounds.
During these occasions, not surprisingly, a great number of passengers get off the nearby Harajyuku station and walk towards the Meiji Shinto Shrine.
When midnight of December 31st comes, this holy ground is guaranteed to be extremely overcrowded with shrine guests and devotees.
Eventually, at around 12 AM, television broadcasts will start to cover and air the atmosphere inside the sanctuary as people are waiting for the New Year.
These news coverages will last until the entire first day of the new year, where media reporters would interview people inside the compound.
In the celebration of this occasion, the Meiji Shinto shrine has certainly served a very special purpose to the devotees and guests in giving them hope for the New Year.

(By Arac)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Report on November 29 (East Garden of Imperial Palace)

Thank you very much to all the guests joining the tour.  We had lovely sunny morning and we welcomed 18 guests from US, Australia, Spain, Philippines, Singapore, Canada, Malaysia and India. We divided into 3 groups.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was very sunny and warm day as at this time of the year, and while walking we had to remove the jacket by the end of the tour!!

The East Garden is very beautiful with autumn leaves with multiple colors, -green, yellow, orange and red.  Although we don’t see flowers in Ninomaru Garden, which is famous for various flowers, still it is one of the best seasons with autumn leaves.

 

It’s now December!,  probably the busiest time of the year.  We enjoy Christmas, but more important for Japanese is cerebrating New Year.   Before welcoming new year, people may have many opportunities to have “forget the year” party with friends, colleagues and community, and so on.  We have drink together to forget all the past (and bad) things and wish and commit for coming year, but for some people, this is just excuse for drinking!?? and some people may have party consecutive nights!

We also prepare Christmas presents for family and friends, at the same time prepare New Year greeting card called “Nengajyo”  (although this habit is becoming less common due to the SNSs) and special cleaning up own house.  It’s busy season but at the same time, feel happy and excited with beautiful Christmas decoration in town.

 

Right after Christmas, all the decorations in the town will change to New Years’ one.  This is quite interesting year end scene.

Please come and enjoy the year end/ new year season in Japan.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Report on November 26, 2017 in Asakusa

Thank you for joining our tour in Asakusa on November 26. We had 20 guests from America, Canada, Chile, Holland, Germany, Israel, and Singapore. I hope all of you enjoyed our tour in the old part of Tokyo in spite of congestion.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It will be a fresh experience for you to take a boat cruise and watch a different angle of Tokyo on Sumida river. There are a few routes from Asakusa. I recommend the cruise to Hama-Rikyu Gardens for autumn color viewing. It takes about 30 minutes. The boat rolls but little. The departing area of the boat around Azumabashi Bridge commands a nice view of Tokyo Sky Tree and the beer mug-shaped building of Asahi Beer company, a major Japanese beverage company.

One of the beauties of Sumida River is a bridge. Every bridge has a different shape and color. The original Ryogoku bridge was constructed after the Meireki Great Fire in 1657 when a huge number of people drowned in the river. Eitai Bridge is famous for 50 mikoshi(portable shrines) passing on the occasion of nearby Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine Festival. From this bridge high-rise condominium buildings are seen on the island where the shipbuilding industry started. The last bridge is Kachidoki Bridge which used be movable until 1970. Then you will see the world’s largest fish market,Tsukiji on the right.

Final stop will be inside Hama-Rikyu Gardens. The garden is a typical daimyo(feudal lord) garden that features a tidal pond and its water level goes up and down with the tide. It’s autumn leaf viewing season now. The leaves are turning red and yellow. The garden was originally constructed as a residence for a daimyo and had duck hunting grounds during the Edo period. Then later it belonged to the Imperial detached palace and is open to the public. Visitors can enjoy matcha at the teahouse.

Since Tsukiji Fish Market is about five minutes walk, it will be a great fun for you to walk around the bustling seafood streets. The taste of sushi may be fresher and special.

The boat cruise from Asakusa to Hama-Rikyu is available almost every thirty minutes from 9:50am to 3:20pm. The fare is 980 yen per person including the garden admission fee. An advance booking is possible. You can cruise further to Odaiba as well. Ticketing Azumabashi Bridge is located five minutes from Kaminari-mon Gate and one minute from Asakusa Station of the Ginza Line.
Why not enjoy boat cruising to Hama-Rikyu Gardens?

(posted by Yoshi)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Report on 25 November 2017, the East Garden of the Imperial Palace

We thank many guests who participated in the tour.

On that day we welcomed over 42 people from Australia, USA, Norway, Austria, UK, Indonesia, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, and Nederland.

We divided into 5 groups. The weather was very clear. It was a best autumn day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The East Garden turned autumn colors already so we could enjoy beautiful scenes with red and yellow leaves. Not only in Tokyo but in Japan’s old capital, Kyoto was in autumn leaf viewing season. The middle age temples and gardens were crowded with tourists viewing the leaves. Some temples held light-up of the leaves at night. Light-up was magnificent.

 

Hotels were already packed so no reservation for a room was available. In Japan people enjoy viewing these leaves as one of autumn events, which we call “Momiji-gari.” It literally means hunting autumn leaves. But we do not hunt them but just view and enjoy the scenaries.

Unlike cherry blossoms season, we do not do picnic under the trees because temperature is low.

But some enjoy tea ceremony under the trees. One of the guides attended tea ceremony hosted by a Canadian tea ceremony master, Randy Channell Soei at Chionji Temple last Thursday. Having sweets and warm bitter-sweet Macha green tea viewing autumn leaves in a formal manner is greatest moment in life.

IMG_20171123_122513

After this, a colder climate covers the nation and the leaves are falling down then you might see white snow. Winter! Surely, we have lots of fun in winter such as skiing, snowboarding, and New Year festivals.

Why not join and enjoy upcoming winter in Japan!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Notice:Weekday Tour on Wednesday, November 29 .(The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace)

・Date/Time : Wed. Nov. 29 , 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 !

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Report : November 18, 2017 (East Garden of the Imperial Palace)

We thank all guests joining our East garden of the Imperial Palace tour on Nov.18.
We welcomed 34 guests from 15 countries all over the world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unfortunately it was rain, a little bit cold and windy. In this condition, we always worried about the way of tour because our tour is all outside. Now Gingko trees along the Gyoko Street colored yellow. We enjoyed it.

Speaking of Gingko trees, do you know Meiji Jingu Gaien?
Meiji Jingu Gaien is one of the park in Tokyo and was made in 1923.
It is known as the street lined with Gingko trees. Gingko trees of Meiji Jingu Gaien are planted in perspective. So we can see the beautiful landscape like paintings.
Especially in autumn, Gingko leaves change color from green to yellow. After that yellow Gingko leaves fall down and cover the ground. It looks like the golden carpet.
Around Meiji Jingu Gaien, there are a lot of nice café restaurants. I think it is the best place to stroll and eat out in autumn. I went there last week and enjoyed beautiful landscape. It was so nice!

(posted by Y. Hino)

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment