Category Archives: People

Pink cherry blossoms and Japanese bride in kimono at Tokyo-daijingu on 11 April 2014

This morning, we admired pink cherry blossoms and a charming Japanese bride in white kimono (traditional dress) at the peaceful Tokyo-daijingu Shinto shrine. The nice couple of travellers from Sweden that joined this “Kagurazaka, Charming Tokyo” walking tour in Tokyo was delighted :)

Most cherry trees in Tokyo have already lost their petals due to the rain but this cherry tree of the Yae-zakura species is in full bloom. With good travel tips or a guide, you can see beautiful cherry blossoms in Tokyo even after the peak of March/April!

Pink cherry blossoms at Tokyo-daijingu Shinto shrine (Tokyo, Japan) on 11 April 2014.

Tokyo-daijingu is known as the Shinto shrine that held the first Shinto wedding ceremony in Japan so it is the most traditional destination in Japan to see (and take a picture of) a Japanese bride in kimono…

Japanese bride in white kimono at Tokyo-daijingu (Tokyo, Japan) on 11 April 2014.

We exceptionally started this Yes in Japan 2014 tour at Hotel Niwa Tokyo (near Suidobashi station) for the convenience of our customers. The walk was longer than usual but it was a pleasure with this beautiful Spring weather :)

USEFUL LINKS

 

USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Yae-zakura = 八重桜, Kimono = 着物.
  • Tokyo = 東京, Tokyo-daijingu = 東京大神宮.
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo = 庭のホテル東京 (Niwa-no-hotelu-Tokyo).

New tour in Tokyo: “Shopkeepers x Japanese Culture”

Travel Stand Japan just launched a Yes in Japan unique tour in Tokyo for Spring 2014: “Shopkeepers x Japanese Culture” (reference W14A). We strongly recommend you this walking tour if you love the “Made in Japan” traditional and ancient creations, want shopping ideas, and wish to meet/interact with Japanese people during your holidays in Japan.

Mamebon book in Jimbocho (Tokyo, Japan).

Explore Japanese life and culture by visiting shops in Jimbocho. Look, listen, touch and get answers to your questions about traditional and everyday life objects. You will typically discover Wagashi cakes, Washi paper, Mamebon books, Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, ancient maps, fun family card games… Our guide will lead you from little shop to little shop, introducing you to the shopkeepers and to their products, and will translate your questions (English to Japanese) and the shopkeepers’ answers (Japanese to English). Feel free to buy sweets, souvenirs and gifts for your children and friends!

Wagashi cake in Tokyo (Japan).

Current calendar for March 2014: Monday 17, Wednesday 19, Monday 24, Wednesday 26, Friday 28, and Monday 31 with departures at 13:00 near Jimbocho station and Sakura Hotel Jimbocho (between the Imperial Palace, Akihabara, Tokyo Dome and Yasukuni shrine). Follow the link below to get up-to-date information and book online.

Discover a deep Tokyo and get a unique grasp of Japan thanks to Japanese people themselves!

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USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Jimbocho = 神保町, Jimbocho station = 神保町駅 (Jimbocho-eki), Tokyo = 東京.
  • Sakura Hotel Jimbocho = サクラホテル神保町 (Sakula-hotelu-jimbocho).

Find true love at Tokyo-daijingu Shinto shrine with Japanese girls!

Natural and mystic island in a modern district of Tokyo, Tokyo-daijingu is reputedly the shrine where the first Shinto wedding occurred. We arrived there under a blue sky this warm afternoon (15℃) to celebrate Spring (traditionally starting today in Japan) and the Year of the Horse!

Entrance of Tokyo-daijingu Shinto shrine.

Among the trees near the entrance, a pink-blue-green dragon greeted us for the purification ritual, providing holy water to cleanse our hands and mouth. Next, we glanced at the red and purple flags, climbed a few steps then stepped through wooden-golden gates. The wooden roof immediately caught our attention with its characteristic shape and golden ornaments shining over the blue sky.

Japanese girl drinking holy water before Tokyo-daijingu's dragon.

Quietly queueing behind numerous Japanese girls come to pray to find true love, we had the time to examine votive plaques decorated with horses; some beautifully reflected the sunlight!

Horse on a votive plaque at Tokyo-daijingu Shinto shrine.

Approaching the main hall, we could hear coins thrown into wooden boxes as offerings and hand claps preceding or following silent prayers. Our turn came, we glimpsed a few Japanese attending a Shinto ceremony in the hall, bowed, clapped our hands, prayed, clapped and bowed again…

Japanese girls praying to find true love at Tokyo-daijingu.

Afterwards, we joined a crowd of Japanese girls gathered around diverse colourful lucky charms (local speciality: find true love) and fortune slips. Sébastien left Tokyo-daijingu shrine with a light transparent lucky charm featuring a 3D horse; may it protect him well in 2014 :)

Lucky charms at Tokyo-daijingu Shinto shrine.

USEFUL LINKS

 

USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Tokyo = 東京, Tokyo-daijingu = 東京大神宮.

Meet great Japanese artisans: sculptor of miniature gods and Buddhas…

Have you ever met and discussed with a Japanese artisan? Reputed for high-quality gorgeous products (traditional or modern), artisans in Japan typically live in quiet districts or in the countryside and rarely speak English so foreign tourists have few opportunities to know them…

We had the chance to meet Kanesaka-sensei, a sculptor of marvellous miniature gods and Buddhas, at an event promoting the Fukushima prefecture held at Tokyo International Forum on 23 December 2013. This kind joyful artist was moving and impressive, and we will gladly meet him again in his city (Aizu)! Our photos show you Kanesaka-sensei with our team member Sébastien, Shinto and Buddhist miniature statues, a nut containing the 7 Gods of Fortune, and another containing the gods Ebisu and Daikoku.

Japanese artisan Kanesaka-sensei with Sébastien.

Shinto and Buddhist miniature statues.

To fully appreciate the statues, you should turn the nuts in your hands while admiring with a magnifier… Art lovers and fans of Japan would certainly enjoy the experience and wish to bring back a (personalized?) handmade gift or souvenir!

Miniature statue: nut containing the 7 Gods of Fortune.

Miniature statue: nut containing Ebisu and Daikoku.

Because Japanese artisans are dedicated and skilled, we recommend you to meet one at his/her workshop or shop during your stay in Japan if you wish to discover Japanese crafts and meet Japanese people. Plan ahead to get an appointment, hire a knowledgeable interpreter and maybe find an illustrated book in English to bring back home afterwards. If you end up far from Tokyo or Kyoto, take the opportunity to savour regional food, discover a little-known area, and send local postcards to your friends and family :) What kind of great artisan would you like to meet on holidays in Japan? Why?

Special thanks to Kanesaka-sensei for his explanations and for allowing us to use his photo.

USEFUL LINKS

 

USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Artisan = 職人 (shokunin), Miniature sculpture = 微細彫刻 (Bisai-chokoku).
  • Daikoku = 大黒 = 大黒天 (Daikoku-ten), Ebisu = 恵比寿.
  • 7 Gods of Fortune = 七福神 (Shichi-fukujin).