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灯篭流し

16 Aug

Yesterday (2015 August 15th) was 終戦記念日 (VJ day) and there were ceremonies for that around Japan.
It was also the day that 灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) is done at the Sumida River in Tokyo.

Tokyo landmarks, Tokyo SkyTree and Asahi Beer HQ are near the Sumida River.

Tokyo landmarks, Tokyo SkyTree and Asahi Beer HQ are near the Sumida River.

灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) is a ceremony that is usually held at the end of O-bon (“O-bon” is mid-August usually (some places have it in July) and is a ceremony tradition to honor relatives and ancestors who’ve passed away.)

灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) means “floating lanterns“. On this ceremony, people can purchase a lantern and write a message to relative(s) who have passed away and then the lanterns are lit and set afloat on the river.

It wasn’t easy to take photos that do it justice, but it looks beautiful.

This is the boat that some of the lanterns were set afloat from

A huge crowd to watch and set lanterns into the river.

The first of lanterns in the river.

Many people wore ゆかた (traditional Japanese summer kimono), such as this girl standing near the river’s edge.

More lanterns passing near the Tokyo Sky Tree.

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Here’s the line of people waiting to set their lanterns into the river.

The first group set their lanterns afloat from the boat, but after that a ramp from the dock was used.

Xmas Sky Tree

24 Dec

It’s クリスマス・イヴ (Xmas Eve) in Japan now.
My wife and I went to the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower, which was illuminated in green for Xmas.

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メリー・クリスマス (Merry Xmas).

Autumn Sky Tree

5 Nov

Last weekend we went to the Tokyo Sky Tree.

(We didn’t go inside the tower. I have done that before).

The Sky Tree is illuminated at night in various colors every evening.
When we went it was lit up orange for the start of autumn.

We did go in the adjacent 「空町」 (“Sola-machi“) (lit. “Sky City“) shopping center.

Drinks in a traditional Japanese candy store.

Retro Japanese toys.

Japan’s “Hello Kitty” meets American rock band “KISS”.

From there, we walked to the nearby neighborhood of Asakusa.

「みくじ 百円」 (“Fortunes, ¥100”)

Japan in January

1 Mar

Japan is beautiful in January … and every other month!

Tokyo with kids…

4 Feb

I’m often contacted by parents in various countries who are planning to visit Tokyo with their children…and ask me for suggestions for places to take them in this city.

So I thought it would be helpful for people who are planning to visit Tokyo with kids if I wrote a post with some places that are popular with kids in Tokyo.

So, in no particular order, here is a brief list of places in Tokyo to take kids:

Tokyo Disneyland and/or Tokyo Disney Sea

KiddylandOne of the giant toy stores in Tokyo. In Omotesando, near Harajuku.

Yamashiroya – Another giant toy store. Near Ueno train station.

Hakuhinkan – This giant toy store is in Ginza.

Odaiba – A driverless train takes you to this part of Tokyo.  Has a shopping center, cat-cafe, bicycle rental, a Statue of Liberty like the one in New York…but smaller, and a life-sizeGundam” robot.

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Children’s Castle

Zoos and/or Aquariums – There are many excellent zoos and aquariums in and around Tokyo. This site tells the government-owned ones in Tokyo limits…there are more than these.

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Sky Tree – At 634 meters tall, it’s the world’s tallest tower. It’s within walking distance of Asakusa.

I also sometimes give inexpensive (not much more than the cost of my train fare) walking tours of Tokyo to foreign visitors, when my schedule allows.

Feel free to contact me with this form if you need more information:

Over 6 million in 365 days

22 May

The Tokyo Sky Tree , the tallest tower in the world turned one year old today.

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The Sky Tree opened to visitors on 2012 May 22nd…one year ago today.

I went up to the observation deck in the Tokyo Sky Tree on a clear day last January. I wrote a post about it with some photos that I took of the view.
(Click here to read it.)

Today is the first anniversary of the Tokyo Sky Tree‘s grand opening…but two days ago (Monday, 2013 May 2oth), another milestone was reached for the tower: Tokyo Sky Tree welcomed the 6.34 millionth visitor.

6.34 million visitors is a key number for the Sky Tree because the tower stands 634 meters tall. Officially the world’s tallest tower.

The height of 634 meters wasn’t chosen arbitrarily. In Japanese 6-3-4 can be pronounced 「ムサシ」 (mu-sa-shi)…and the Tokyo Sky Tree stands near an area that is referred to as 「武蔵の国」 (Musashi Region).

What do you think about giant skyscrapers and towers? What is the tallest one you’ve visited? Are there any near where you live?

Wisteria Festival

2 May

Last weekend, we went to a 藤祭り (Wisteria Festival) in Tokyo.
藤 (Wisteria) is a type of flower that is purple and blooms around this time of year.

Here are some photos that I took:

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We also saw the new Tokyo Sky Duck bus.
Here’s a photo that I took of it:2013-04-28 16.17.05

The Tokyo Sky Duck is a new bus service that just started in Tokyo last March.
It gives passengers a tour of Tokyo both by street…and then by river cruise because it’s both a bus and a boat!

Here is a video of the Tokyo Sky Duck bus getting into the river:

At the top of the world’s tallest tower

19 Jan

Yesterday I went up the Tokyo Sky Tree.

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634 meters tall … the tallest tower in the world!

First of all, the elevators move at 600 meters per minute! But they’re so smooth, I could hardly feel them move!

The sky was clear, blue and sunny … so I could clearly see Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Tower, Shinjuku, Tokyo Disneyland, the Tokyo Dome…all of Tokyo and beyond!

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The shadow of Tokyo Sky Tree

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Tokyo sun shower

4 Sep

Summer in Tokyo is very hot and humid.  There is a typhoon season and sometimes a sudden thunderstorm with heavy rain will start seemingly out of nowhere…and then stop just as suddenly with blue skies returning.

Japanese people are sometimes surprised if I tell them that summer in Florida (where I grew up) is very similar.

Summer in Florida is also hot and humid. There is a hurricane season (hurricanes, for all intents and purposes, are basically the same as typhoons) and sometimes sudden short thunderstorms occur there too.

In fact, the area in Florida where I lived, Tampa Bay, is called “the lightning capital of the world”.

When the weather is sunny and then a rainstorm suddenly starts…with the sunny weather returning just as suddenly, Floridians call that a sun shower.

So I also referred to the same phenomenon in Japan as a sun shower, as well.

But a few years ago, the Japanese media gave these storms an original Japanese name.  Here in Japan, these storms are called 「ゲリラ豪雨」 (“Guerrilla rainstorms“) because of the way they violently come out of nowhere.

Well, yesterday, there was a sudden, short, ゲリラ豪雨 (Guerrilla rainstorm)…and someone photographed it from the Tokyo Sky Tree tower.

The 「ゲリラ豪雨」 (guerrilla rainstorm) that hit the Tokyo area yesterday. It looks like a tornado!

Summer Festivals

29 Aug

Earlier this month, I participated in one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals.
(Click here to read that post.)

There are many great festivals all year round…but especially so in the summer.
(Click here to see a list I made of some of Tokyo’s best festivals.)

I like Japan’s festivals a lot…and I go to many of them.

In early August, my family and I went to watch a summer 花火大会 (fireworks show) near our house that we usually go to every year.
The 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan are excellent! If you have a chance, you should see one!
(Here is a list of some of Tokyo’s biggest fireworks shows.)

It’s not easy to photograph fireworks with the camera I have…but here are a few that I took:

花火 (“hanabi”)…literally “flower (of) fire”, is the Japanese word for “fireworks”.

We also went to a festival at a temple not far from the Tokyo Sky Tree.

After that, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park):

(Click here to see some other photos I took in Ueno a couple of years ago.)

If you have any questions about festivals in Tokyo, things to do in this city, or whatever…feel free to contact me.