Category Archives: Report

From Qatar for autumn photos in Tokyo, gifts made in Japan and a vegetarian buffet!

We guided a businessman from Qatar in Tokyo today, for the last day of his first stay in Japan. Leaving in a comfortable car from Tokyo Dome Hotel, we visited a Japanese garden, ate at a vegetarian restaurant, bought gifts at a shop owned by a couple of Japanese artisans, saw many tourist spots, and visited holy sites.

To make great photos of Japanese autumn with the morning light, we first strolled in the peaceful Rikugien garden (Bunkyo ward, Tokyo). Coming from Qatar, the traveller was particularly pleased with the seasonal yellow grass, trees with red leaves, green pine trees, and mirror-like pond, which were gorgeous under a big blue sky! The singing birds, lively carps, wooden bridge, lanterns, teahouse, and numerous Japanese grandmothers and grandfathers made this time very enjoyable :)
Tree with red leaves and yellow grass at Rikugien garden (Bunkyo ward, Tokyo, Japan).

Stone lantern and autumn leaves at Rikugien garden (Bunkyo ward, Tokyo, Japan).

We lunched early at Petit Bonheur in Chiyoda ward, enjoying a vegetarian buffet with fragrant and tasty vegetables and fruits from Japan. This popular restaurant was full but only two other men were in sight; we were surrounded by Japanese women!

After coffee, we looked at old buildings in the Kanda area of Chiyoda ward and went shopping at the wonderful shop Kanda Chonko to buy high-quality handmade gifts made in Japan for the businessman’s family: Japanese fans, bags, hairpins, a sumo wrestler kokeshi doll, a decoration made using rice grains, a miniature with a Japanese boy and girl in kimono…
Takemura (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan).

Our driver proposed a scenic tour to see and photograph important places in Tokyo before going to the Asakusa district: Tokyo train station, the fortifications of the Imperial Palace, the Ministry of Justice (old and new buildings), the National Diet Building, Tokyo Tower… and lines of beautiful trees with yellow leaves!
Tokyo Tower (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan).

In Taito ward, we took an elevator for a great panoramic view of Asakusa: Asahi Breweries headquarters, Tokyo Skytree, Senso-ji Buddhist temple, the pagoda, the shopping street… We then entered the Thunder Gate, shopped lightly in the shopping street, received a handwritten document with a holy seal at Senso-ji Buddhist temple, visited Asakusa Shinto Shrine, and ate shrimp sushi :) After that, it was time to go catch the flight back to Qatar at Narita international airport…

Update on 02 December 2014: A Japanese partner of the Qatari businessman called to thank us; our tour in Tokyo was praised :) In fact, our English-speaking staff also spent a very pleasant autumn day thanks to this friendly visitor!

If you too wish to visit Tokyo with us, reserve a 1-day Yes in Japan private tour.

Impressive Japanese archery during the 44th All Kanto Student Kyudo Championships at the Nippon-budokan

We watched impressive Japanese archery “kyudo” during the 44th All Kanto Student Kyudo Championships in Chiyoda ward on Saturday 21 June 2014.
Impressive Japanese archery during the 44th All Kanto Student Kyudo Championships at the Nippon-budokan.

Japanese girls and boys coming from various universities competed with tall bows, shooting arrows with gloves and wearing kyudo traditional clothes, which includes a chest protector for female archers to protect their breasts from the bowstring. We could clearly see everything: the long rows of Japanese archers, individual movements of the participants and of their bows, the trajectory of the arrows, and the arrows in/near the targets. Around us, fellow students, friends and family members noisily encouraged their favourite archers!
Archery movements during the 44th All Kanto Student Kyudo Championships at the Nippon-budokan.

We strongly recommend you to attend this event in Tokyo at the end of Spring or beginning of Summer 2015 or 2016 if you are interested in Japan, the Japanese culture or martial arts! Contact us if you wish to watch, learn about, or practice Japanese archery; we could organize something just for you :)
Archer during the 44th All Kanto Student Kyudo Championships at the Nippon-budokan.

USEFUL LINKS

 

USEFUL JAPANESE
  • All Kanto Student Kyudo Championships = 全関東学生弓道選手権大会 (Zen-kanto-gakusei-kyudo-senshuken-taikai).
  • Kyudo = 弓道, Nippon-budokan = 日本武道館.
  • Chiyoda ward = 千代田区 (Chiyoda-ku), Tokyo = 東京.

From Greece for a Japanese garden, kendo shop and Shinto gates!

Yesterday, we accompanied a nice couple from Greece wishing to visit a beautiful Japanese garden in Tokyo. After visiting the ancient Rikugien garden, we walked a while in the streets of Bunkyo ward then entered a long row of red Shinto gates at Nezu shrine :)

Under a big blue sky, the green trees and large pond of the Rikugien garden looked fabulous and extremely peaceful though full of life! We saw cute carps, swimming turtles, a wooden Japanese bridge, a teahouse serving green tea, pink azaleas…
Pink azaleas in the Japanese garden Rikugien (Tokyo, Japan) in June 2014.

Pond of the Japanese garden Rikugien (Tokyo, Japan) in June 2014.

The quiet Nezu shrine features many statues (samurais, foxes, ashuras…) but foreign tourists get most excited by its numerous holy gates. This spot is excellent for a very Japanese souvenir photo!
Couple from Greece between Shinto gates at Nezu shrine (Tokyo, Japan) in June 2014.

To finish, we lunched in Akihabara and entered one of the best shops selling kendo equipment in Tokyo; the armours were beautiful! We planned this tour based on the travellers’ interests, season, weather, and accessibility from Hotel Niwa Tokyo. Thanks to these 2 Greek tourists, we also spent a very pleasant Spring day :)
Greek tourists with Sébastien Duval at Nezu shrine (Tokyo, Japan) in June 2014.

To discover the Japanese people and culture through a personalized tour in English during your holidays in Japan, contact the Yes in Japan team…

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USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Rikugien = 六義園, Nezu shrine = 根津神社 (Nezu-jinja).
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo = 庭のホテル東京 (Niwa-no-hotelu-Tokyo), Tokyo = 東京.

Jizo & tengu plaques at Kencho-ji Buddhist temple (Kamakura, Japan)

We saw beautiful holy plaques at Kencho-ji Buddhist temple after a hike in the forest of Kamakura during the Golden Week. Our photo below shows plaques decorated with Jizo (Buddhist protector of travellers and children) on the left and a tengu (protector from Japanese folk religion) on the right:
Jizo and tengu plaques at Kencho-ji Buddhist temple (Kamakura, Japan)

Our travel manager made many lovely 1-day trips to Kamakura from Tokyo with small groups. Contact us if you wish to visit or hike in Kamakura during your stay in Tokyo this Spring; we can organize a personalized 1-day tour or 2-day tour with hotel in Kamakura.

Would you buy a wooden plaque as souvenir or suspend it at the temple after writing a prayer on it during your travel in Japan?

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USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Kencho-ji = 建長寺, Kamakura = 鎌倉.

Purple wisteria flowers in Tokyo at Kanda shrine and Zenkoku-ji

In Tokyo today, we enjoyed the sight of purple wisteria flowers hanging on a terrace (easy to miss) beside Kanda shrine in Chiyoda area then at the Buddhist temple Zenkoku-ji of Shinjuku area. As wisteria is considered a flower of May in Japan, it was a good surprise to see these flowers so early in April during our walking tours “Insight Into Art: Origami? Shinto?” and “Kagurazaka, Charming Tokyo” with a traveller from Australia :)

Tour photo 1: Purple wisteria at Kanda shrine.
Purple wisteria flowers and roof of Kanda shrine (Tokyo, Japan) in April 2014.

Tour photo 2: Purple wisteria at Zenkoku-ji.
Purple wisteria flowers at Zenkoku-ji (Tokyo, Japan) in April 2014.

Enjoy beautiful nature in Japan :)

USEFUL LINKS

 

USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Kanda shrine = 神田明神 (Kanda-myojin), Zenkoku-ji = 善國寺.
  • Tokyo = 東京, Chiyoda ward = 千代田区 (Chiyoda-ku), Shinjuku ward = 新宿区 (Shinjuku-ku).

2013/2014 most popular walk in Japan: “Insight Into Art: Origami? Shinto?” in Tokyo

Our most popular Yes in Japan walk since 2013 is “Insight Into Art: Origami? Shinto?” in Tokyo (walk W14B)! From France, Israel, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden, the Philippines and the USA… everybody looked happy :) If you are interested in Japanese art, traditions and religion, you can join this walk in English 3 mornings/evenings every week in April, and probably every week of 2014/2015.

Insight into art: Crane-shaped origami at an origami centre in Tokyo in 2014.

We typically see many types of Washi handmade paper, origami, Japanese paper dolls, lucky charms, prayer plaques, statues of gods such as Ebisu, golden lanterns (wonderful when lit up at night), holy trees, a holy rock, and the inside of a colourful Shinto shrine… If you are lucky, you may also see a very cute holy horse, see a paper folding demonstration by a cheerful Japanese master, and meet artists! One of our American customers could even try a gorgeous samurai helmet made from paper at the workshop of the origami centre; this was a great sight :)

Kanda-myojin at night: statue of the god Daikoku.

Unexpectedly, most participants do shopping during this walk, buying beautiful Japanese paper, cute prayer plaques or unique lucky charms! This walk is really nice in any season, with a blue sky, rain or snow. When you stay in Tokyo, consider joining this walk starting at Hotel Niwa Tokyo (near Suidobashi station).

USEFUL LINKS

 

USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Art of paper folding = 折り紙 (Origami), Japanese paper = 和紙 (Washi).
  • Shinto shrine = 神社 (jinja).
  • Suidobashi station = 水道橋駅 (Suidobashi-eki), Tokyo = 東京.
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo = 庭のホテル東京 (Niwa-no-hotelu-Tokyo).

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 :)

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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).

Impressions: Wonderful dances at Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014

No doubt, the annual Furusato-matsuri Tokyo held at Tokyo Dome is wonderful to see dances in Japan whether you are a Japanese resident or foreign tourist. No need to speak Japanese, children welcome, cheap tickets (1.000-1.500 yens). If you enjoy Japanese festivals, attend the event this week (end on Sunday) or free time for it in January 2015!

Yesterday, our travel agent Sébastien was charmed by the traditional dances, gorgeous costumes, characteristic songs, numerous drums… The large main stage allowed big groups of Japanese dancers and drummers to perform!

Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014 inside Tokyo Dome

Japanese dancers at Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014

Japanese drummers at Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014

Crowds gathered to admire the holy Iwami-kagura; this most exciting dance from Shimane prefecture involves a warrior fighting giant snakes/dragons. Do not miss a chance to see that dance from the front row because most movements are at ground level! After the performances, the visitors could touch the costumes, get photographed with the dancers and musicians, play Japanese drums, dance with professionals…

Snakes/dragons of Iwami-kagura at Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014

Fight with snakes/dragons of Iwami-kagura at Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014

Besides, Sébastien tasted (for free) many delicious regional foods, green tea, plum liqueur… and discovered high-quality regional products such as sandals of snake skin (interesting to touch), tea pots of many shapes, decorated chopsticks, fabrics used to make toys… Surrounded by fantastic mascots and Japanese girls in uniform promoting different areas of Japan, he could not resist buying a (tee-shirt) souvenir :)

Sandals of snake skin at Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014

To finish, a giant float from Chichibu prefecture in front of which many people got a souvenir photo:

Float from Chichibu prefecture at Furusato-matsuri Tokyo 2014

For practical information, you can read our previous article “Japanese festivals: Furusato-matsuri Tokyo (10-19 January 2014)”.

USEFUL LINKS

 

USEFUL JAPANESE
  • Furusato-matsuri Tokyo = ふるさと祭り東京, Japanese festival = 祭り (matsuri).
  • Tokyo Dome = 東京ドーム (Tokyo domu).
  • Iwami-kagura = 石見神楽, Shimane prefecture = 島根県 (Shimane-ken).
  • Chichibu prefecture = 秩父県 (Chichibu-ken).