15 August 2015: You & I at Nishi-kanda Family Summer Festival in Tokyo (Japan)?

Invited by community leaders, I plan to enjoy the annual Nishi-kanda Family Summer Festival at Nishi-kanda park (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) from 18:00 on Saturday 15 August 2015 🙂 Like last year, I should wear my kimono, join easy bon-odori dances and songs with adults and children, listen to dynamic traditional music (notably taiko drums), discuss with the locals while eating Japanese food…
Poster of Nishi-kanda Family Summer Festival (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 15 August 2015.

You are welcome to experience Japanese life and ancient traditions for free with us! Locals will gladly take a few minutes to teach you simple dances and songs 🙂 Just check your calendar and contact me in advance for help regarding kimono rental or translations between English/French and Japanese that evening.

New experience & 400-year festival: I carried an omikoshi during Kanda-matsuri in Tokyo (Japan)

As part of the biennial festival Kanda-matsuri entertaining Shinto gods and celebrating this year the move of Kanda Shrine to its current location in Chiyoda ward (Tokyo, Japan) 400 years ago, Eri and I watched a parade with horses and participants in traditional costumes around 09:00 near Jimbocho station.

Horse & costumes during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Shishi-shaped float of Jimbocho-itchome during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Invited by community leaders, I then carried a divine palanquin “omikoshi” for the first time, wearing the festival attire of Jimbocho-itchome district, in company of Japanese locals and of an American married to a local lady. We processed from and to Jinbocho Mitsui Building (16:00-19:00), singing to keep the rhythm on Yasukuni avenue and in small streets of Kanda Suzuran Shopping District, lighting lanterns up on our beautiful omikoshi at night 🙂

Small & big omikoshis of Jimbocho-itchome during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Dragons on the omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome towards Shinjuku during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome carried high during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Japanese girls carrying the omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome at night during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

I hurt my shoulders due to my inexperience and above-average height (Update: still a bit painful after 7 days in spite of immediate medical treatment)… but I had fun and was glad to experience this piece of Japanese life, share food and drinks with so many happy friendly faces, and meet local friends!

Japanese girls in happi during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Big thanks to the influential owners of Hanaya restaurant, Hasebe restaurant (local omikoshi manager) and Ohya-shobo ukiyo-e shop (XYZ role) for getting me authorized to carry the omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome.

New project: East of the Imperial Palace map in English for tourists in Tokyo (Japan)

Tomorrow, my team will start preparing its first “East of the Imperial Palace” walking map in English to support foreigners in Tokyo city and promote local gems using help from local communities, our expertise, and our human networks. Contact me before June 2015 if you wish to advertise or recommend an exceptional business near Ginza, Nihombashi, Shimbashi, Tsukiji, or Tokyo station 🙂

As Travel Stand Japan‘s inbound manager, I mainly search businesses that interest foreign tourists and residents, that provide high-quality products or services for adults and children, that are unique or characterize the area, and that make the local communities proud! I thus favour old local businesses with eco-friendly Japanese-style products by Japanese designers and handmade in Japan, Japanese companies with headquarters in the area, event organizers, stores with friendly bilingual staff accepting payments by credit card, and tax-free shops open 24 hours a day. If needed, our travel agency can design menus/labels (translations, explanations, pictures…) and train staff to better interact with tourists (language & culture). Of course, the team also happily guides tourists to the great places on our maps to help them buy or order what they dream of during Yes in Japan tours 🙂

Making this online and paper map should be fun and rewarding but exhausting like when I prepared the “North of the Imperial Palace” map of spring/summer 2015. I enjoyed cycling in small streets, discussing with hotel staff, informing and learning from various shopkeepers and owners in Japanese language, clarifying my values while honing my sales/negotiation skills… but that took much time and energy! Wish me exceptional holidays afterwards 😉

6th Tokyo Local Thinking seminar at Editory: Network to make a better Jimbocho (Tokyo, Japan)

Invited tonight at the 6th Tokyo Local Thinking free seminar by Editory‘s dynamic organizer KAWARADA Yasuhiko, I enjoyed live music, attended talks, joined a group exercise, and networked in Japanese language with local guests wishing to dynamize, enhance and promote the Jimbocho area of Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo. Sadly, I missed 20 minutes as the owner of a nearby restaurant requested an interpreter immediately to explain his menu to American customers.

Like last time, the seminar was refreshing 🙂 I chatted with acquaintances but also met the CEO and an executive officer of the excellent Good Morning Café, a cooking instructor who worked 5 years in California, staff from real estate agencies… OnJapan‘s UCHIYAMA Masayuki asked my views (as the sole foreigner in this packed room) about his Jimbocho Yomatsuri project: a festival in May with Japanese food stalls, traditional music and songs, dances in kimono… I notably suggested to end the event late to attract and entertain Japanese and foreign tourists after a full day of tourism elsewhere. Update: I e-mailed him additional suggestions on 07 March 2015.

I invited some participants to eat together near Travel Stand Japan on a Friday evening or week-end before the next seminar on 01 April to network and make a better world without worrying about our last subway/train or work the following day!

Volunteer distribution of Osanpo Jimbocho 18 in Chiyoda ward (Tokyo, Japan)

Volunteer of the Osanpo Jimbocho team, I distributed today the well-designed 18th Osanpo Jimbocho magazine made in Japan and a related flyer at bookstores, restaurants, a cleaning shop, an art gallery, and the Gakushi-kaikan hotel near Jimbocho station (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan). Thanks to the whole team, visitors enjoying Jimbocho Book Festival or Kanda Ancient & Rare Books Festival (25 October to 03 November 2014) will learn about the community and local services in Japanese.

Osanpo Jimbocho 18 on 01 October 2014.

As a local travel agent, I happily walked along the Suzuran and Yasukuni streets on this beautiful autumn day like many Japanese and foreigners speaking in English, Chinese, Korean… I also shared a good time with shopkeepers such as the owner of Mambaken, who joyfully showed me handwritten documents in French including notes by Jean-Paul Sartre and a letter by Napoléon!

The Osanpo Jimbocho team will soon resume its meetings to prepare the Spring 2015 magazine, to be distributed before the Suzuran Matsuri 2015.

Invited to Friendship Day by staff of the American embassy in Tokyo (Japan)

Invited by RAUB Konna from the embassy of the United States in Tokyo (met at the Yukata de Guide Tour 2014), I enjoyed today the annual Friendship Day organized in Minato ward by the American community and embassy in Japan. A street and park decorated with American flags, a Sesame Street show, concerts, games, delicious roasted chicken, a beautiful sunset after the rain… Japanese children and adults (including one of my colleagues) were excited to get their photo with marines in uniform, Elmo or Cookie Monster! I preferred a charming lady from the US air force in camouflage gear 🙂

As a travel agent and interpreter, I appreciated this opportunity to meet foreign residents in Japan and bilingual Japanese people. An English teacher and a marine even asked me to get them cheap international flights 😉 I got an official polo shirt of the American embassy in Tokyo as souvenir and participated to a lottery; will I win a flight to the USA, luxurious dinner in Tokyo or something else?

Japanese photomontage of Friendship Day in 港区 (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 20 September 2014.

More at 20 September 2014: Friendship Day in Tokyo’s Minato ward on Inner Japan.