People gathered at the beautiful Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan
Photo credit: udono / Foter / CC BY-SA
Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Market is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. It is the most famous of over ten wholesale markets that handle the distribution of fish, meat, produce and flowers in Tokyo and is best known as one of the world’s largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day.
The sight of the many kinds of fresh fish, other seafood and the busy atmosphere of scooters, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around, make Tsukiji Market a major tourist attraction for Japan tour packages. In fact, the increase in visitor numbers in recent years has become a problem to the course of business, as the aging market’s infrastructure was not anticipated to serve as a tourist spot. It is a favourite destination for jet-lagged tourists with predawn hours to fill. But the main reason for going at 5 a.m. is to catch the live tuna auctions whose opening hours are 3:30am – 6:00am; two sets of 60 people are allowed to watch the action; the first tour is allowed to watch the auction between 5:25am and 5:45am, the second tour is allowed to watch the auction between 5:50am and 6:10am.
Tsukiji Market consists of an inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions take place, and an outer market where retail shops and restaurants cater to the public. Tourists on tours to Japan are encouraged to visit the outer market areas.
The Tsukiji Market is scheduled to move to a new site in Toyosu November 2016.
Japanese Sword Museum
The Japanese Sword Museum or Tōken hakubutsukan situated in Tokyo, is a small museum dedicated to the art of Japanese swordmaking. The museum is run by the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords and has a collection of more than 150 items, including swords (mainly katana), tosogu (mountings), yoroi (armor) as well as documents of metal working.
Since the introduction of sword-making techniques from the Asian Continent, Japanese swords have been improved throughout Japans long history of warfare. Not only were the swords considered traditional weapons but they were also sometimes regarded as an object of faith or a symbol of power. Usually, exhibitions such as the “Koto (old sword) and Shinto (new sword) Exhibition” are held and the works of famous swordsmiths from the Heian to Edo Periods (782-1867) are on display.
The Japanese Sword Museum is filled with both history and art. It houses swords, sword mountings, armour and other sword related items. The museum has swords created by famous craftsmen such as Nobuyoshi (Ryumon school), Kuniyuki (Rai School) and another Kuniyuki (from the Taima school). It also has swords created by Nobufusa (an, “Important Cultural Asset) and Sanekage (another important swordsmith, from ancient times).
Visitors on Japan tours can view about 1,500 historical documents and archives on swords that are kept in The Archives Room.
The museum is small, but filled with quality. As part of an all inclusive tour to Japan, you could walk through that museum in a very, very short time, but if you take your time, looking at each sword in detail, as you would a beautiful picture painted by one of the great masters of art, you could be there for hours.
In modern Japan the swords are regarded not as weapons but works of art and cultural assets. Japanese swords are said to reflect the sensibilities of Japanese aesthetics and the museum is charged with keeping the knowledge of sword making alive as the art is considered a part of Japanese culture.
Ryōgoku Kokugikan, also known as Ryougoku Sumo Hall, is an indoor sporting arena located in the Yokoami neighborhood of Sumida, one of the 23 wards of Tokyo in Japan and is a venue for contests in Japan’s national sport of sumo. Three of the six official sumo tournaments that take place nationwide each year are held here, in January, May, and September.
The first permanent sumo hall was built in the Ryogoku area in 1909; the Kokugikan, is the fourth built in Tokyo and has been in use since 1985 an seats over 10,000 visitors. It also houses a museum about sumo and the venue is also used for other indoor events, such as boxing, pro wrestling, and music concerts. In past years, it has hosted the finals of the G1 Climax, an annual tournament held by New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The Ryogoku district is home to the sumo stadium, many sumo stables, chanko restaurants and other sumo related attractions for visitors on travel packages to Japan.
Meiji Shrine, located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken to commemorate the emperor’s role in the Meiji Restoration. An iris garden in an area of Tokyo where Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken had been known to visit was chosen as the building’s location.
Constructed in 1915 the building of the shrine was a national project, mobilizing youth groups and other civic associations from throughout Japan, who contributed labor and funding. The original building was destroyed during the Tokyo air raids of World War II. The present iteration of the shrine was funded through a public fund raising effort and completed in October 1958.
The shrine itself is composed of two major areas: The Naien, the inner precinct is centered on the shrine buildings and includes a treasure museum that houses articles of the Emperor and Empress and The Gaien which is the outer precinct that includes the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery that houses a collection of 80 large murals illustrative of the events in the lives of the Emperor and his consort and also includes a variety of sports facilities, including the National Stadium, and the Meiji Memorial Hall (Meiji Kinenkan), which was originally used for governmental meetings, including discussions surrounding the drafting of the Meiji Constitution in the late 19th century. Today it is used for Shinto weddings as well as meeting rooms, rent and restaurants services.
Visitors to the shrine who are part of travel packages to Japan can take part in typical Shinto activities, such as making offerings at the main hall, buying charms and amulets or writing out one’s wish on an ema. The Meiji Shrine is one of the Japan’s most popular shrines. In the first days of the New Year, the shrine regularly welcomes more than three million visitors for the year’s first prayers (hatsumode), more than any other shrine or temple in the country.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a “daimyo”(feudal lord) of the Edo era. It was completed in 1906 and designated as a national garden after the Second World War and opened to the public. The garden blends three distinct styles, French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era. It is now a park under the jurisdiction of the national Ministry of the Environment.
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks and is located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station, with spacious lawns, meandering walking paths and tranquil scenery that provide a relaxing escape from the busy urban center around it. The garden is a favourite hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) spot, and large crowds, including visitors on Japan tour packages, can be present during cherry blossom season.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a nice place for fun tours to Japan visitors during autumn when the leaves change. There are many different types of trees that change colors around the park, however the maple trees are particularly beautiful and can be seen in large numbers around the Japanese garden and Momijiyama (maple mountain) on the park’s eastern side. The colors typically appear from mid November to mid December.