Cultural tour in Tokyo for 2 Israelis… Visite guidée culturelle à Tokyo pour 2 israéliens… イスラエル夫婦と東京の文化ツアー…

[EN-FR] Koma-inu. [JP] 狛犬。

[EN] Among hundreds of ancient wooden sculptures of Arhats, before a statue of Buddha covered with gold, at a wedding centre, across Shibuya Crossing, in little streets, through the Thunder Gate, at Senso-ji Buddhist temple and Asakusa Shinto shrine, beside splendid azaleas and dancing carps, near Tokyo Sky Tree tower… guiding a couple of nice Israeli travellers wishing to discover the Japanese culture in Tokyo today! During this tour, I avoided long walks and stairs (lady with a weak knee), and ordered lunch at a Japanese restaurant based on Jewish religious dietary laws (think vegetable sushi). We had a great time, and the Israelis carefully listened to my explanations about Japan as well as Hinokuma brothers’ legend 🙂 Thanks to my former customer Avraham G. for recommending me to this couple 😀

[FR] Entouré de centaines d’anciennes sculptures en bois d’Arhats, devant une statue de Bouddha couverte d’or, à un centre de mariages, dans de petites rues, à travers le carrefour Hachiko et la Porte du Tonnerre, au temple bouddhique Senso-ji et sanctuaire Shintoïste d’Asakusa, à côté de splendides azalées et de carpes dansantes, près de la tour Tokyo Sky Tree… à guider un sympathique couple de voyageurs israéliens souhaitant découvrir la culture japonaise à Tokyo aujourd’hui ! Lors de cette visite guidée, j’ai évité les escaliers et longues marches (dame ayant un genou faible), et ai commandé nos déjeuners à un restaurant japonais en me basant sur le code alimentaire juif (grand succès des sushis aux légumes). Ce fut une excellent journée et les israéliens apprécièrent beaucoup mes explications sur le Japon et mon récit de la légende des frères Hinokuma 🙂 Merci à mon ancien client Avraham G. de m’avoir recommandé à ce couple 😀

[JP] 何百もの阿羅漢の江戸時代木像の間に、金で覆われた仏像の前に、結婚式場で、小さな通りで、渋谷駅前のスクランブル交差点そして雷門を通して、浅草寺と浅草神社で、綺麗なツツジと賑やかな鯉の隣に、東京スカイツリーの近く… 日本文化を知りたい優しいイスラエル夫婦の旅行者をガイドした。この一日ツアー中、長い散歩と階段を避けて(奥様の弱い膝のため)、和食レストランでユダヤ教戒律の上にランチを注文した(野菜寿司大成功)。イスラエル人のお客さんが、日本について説明と檜前兄弟の伝説をよく聴きました :) この夫婦に私を紹介した昔のお客さん(アブラハム様)に感謝します 🙂

[EN] Azaleas. [FR] Azalées. [JP] ツツジ。

[EN] Carps + azaleas. [FR] Carpes + azalées. [JP] 鯉とツツジ。

[EN-FR] Sushis. [JP] 巻き寿司。

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.

I tested SGRS Tourism Agency‘s Sumida river cruise and Walk with Geisha in Asakusa area (Tokyo, Japan)!

Invited by SGRS Tourism Agency to test its tours for foreign tourists in Tokyo, I enjoyed this afternoon a fun Sweet & Sound Cruise on the Sumida river and a Walk with Geisha in Asakusa area then attended its business presentation and a funny show (see next post). As a tourism professional and former preschool teacher, I believe these tours will be great once refined, providing fond memories of Japan to Western adults and children alike! I now look forward to a walk with a Japanese warrior, ninja or samurai 😉

Odaiba island (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) from the Sweet & Sound Cruise boat on 18 April 2015.

Geisha Otoki-san in kimono with Sébastien Duval holding her fan at Asakusa Shrine (Taito ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015. Photo by Eri.

I had a great time all along: Ken (from Hawaii) and Miki (from Japan) sang in English and Japanese during the cruise while Oui played the piano and Nanako the violin, Harusa (from ???) guided us in the streets of Asakusa accompanied by the “geisha” Otoki-san… Bilingual and wearing a kimono, Harusa motivated us to look for statues on rooftops (e.g. the thief Nezumi-kozo) and portraits of Japanese movie stars (e.g. Takeshi Kitano), touch a giant straw sandal at Senso-ji Buddhist temple, pray under cherry blossoms… Under a big blue sky, we took splendid photos of Odaiba island from the platform of our boat as well as cool photos with the staff here and there 🙂

Miki & Ken singing with a piano and violin during a Sweet & Sound Cruise (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015.

Harusa Matsuyama in kimono with Sébastien Duval at Asakusa Shrine (Taito ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015. Photo by Eri.

The cruise is fine for Westerners but would be even more exciting with albums containing old maps, photos or ukiyo-e woodblock prints placed on the tables, with sale of traditional Japanese sweets/snacks like wagashi and karinto (plus a list of ingredients for allergic travellers), and with more Japanese songs (adding a lullaby would be great to transmit the Japanese culture).

The walk requires a method to avoid losing participants in the crowds and to prevent interruptions by bystanders jumping in for a photo with the geisha! To enhance the tour, the guide may bring a piece of kimono fabric to freely touch and may introduce holy seals at the last spot (Asakusa Shrine): watching a Shinto/Buddhist calligrapher write a goshuin is amazing but few Westerners know that! Finally, the guide may give maps introducing local restaurants and shops (see the Get Japan maps for examples).

I hope this feedback will help SGRS Tourism Agency make a better world, happier people 🙂 I just e-mailed the team!

Ken with Sébastien Duval on the Sweet & Sound Cruise boat (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015.