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  • Happy New Year 2022

    Cheers to a great new year of TIGER! Tiger is a symbol of braveness and we know you are ready for more fantastic experiences and adventures. Let's challenge anything you want this year. It's also an excellent occasion to express your appreciation to your beloved people. Let's celebrate love, friendships, anything extraordinary in your life. It's so exciting to feel what 2022 will bring to you, isn't it? May you have an amazing new year. Instagram:  japantotheworldcom Twitter:   @japan2theworld

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  • Winter Greetings 2021

    Time flies and the end of the year is coming soon. It’s been another tough year but we can see things are getting far better than 2021. We wish you joy, peace and good health this holiday season.  Wish you all beautiful holidays. Stay Happy, Stay Safe. Instagram:  japantotheworldcomTwitter:   @japan2theworld

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  • Autumn Greetings 2021

    The season of beautiful autumn leaves has come to Japan. People are returning to the streets of Tokyo since the state of emergency was lifted. Let’s keep safe and enjoy the second autumn after the COVID pandemic. We will keep posting autumn scenery and daily life in Tokyo for our readers, and please visit our Instagram and Twitter.Instagram:  japantotheworldcom Twitter:   @japan2theworld

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  • Summer Greetings

    The nasty rainy season was over, and summer has come to Japan. Though our summer in 2021 has lots of restrictions due to the current COVID pandemic and is far from fresh and pleasant, we have to enjoy it as much as possible. We will keep posting summer scenery and daily life in Tokyo for those interested in taking a peek, so please visit our Instagram and Twitter.Instagram:  japantotheworldcomTwitter:   @japan2theworld

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STORY

Japanese culture and history

  • SHICHIFUKUJIN

    There are popular Seven Gods in Japan. They are a highly popular group of deities called “ShichiFukuJin” in Japanese and known as “Seven Lucky Gods”. They came from myths and local beliefs that originated in ancient gods from old China, old India, and Japan. The number of 7 is a favorite number for the Japanese and the concept of the group of Seven Gods was settle down in the 15th century in Kyoto, though the original member was unclear. They travel together on their treasure ship known as “TakaraBune” and bring us good fortune. In the 18th century, the Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage during the New Year (Jan.1 to Jan.7) to wish good luck and sleeping with the drawing of the Seven Gods under the pillow on the night of January 1st became very popular. It is said that the current seven members were standardized around the 18th century.It is believed the Seven Gods bring you good luck and each deity has its special fortune to make people happy.Daikoku Ten 大黒天 = Daikoku God The God of agriculture, farmers, rich harvest, commerce, and trade. He has a happy-looking face, wears a Zukin (a big hat) and carries a treasure sack over his shoulder, holds a magic mallet, stands on bales of rice.Ebisu Ten 恵比寿天= Ebisu God The only God purely originated from Japan, the God of the ocean, fishing, good business. He holds a large red sea bream in his left hand and a fishing rod on the right and wears a tall hat. After the worship was spread to merchants and farmers, Ebisu has become a god of success in business. Some might know a station called Ebis on JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo. One of the largest beverage companies of Japan “Sapporo Holdings” used to have a brewery in this Ebis area and established its popular beer “Yebis” in the late 19th century. As shipments increased, they built a station only for transporting the Yebis beer, afterward opened for passenger service and named it Ebis station. A statue of Ebis God is placed outside of the west gate of the station and there is a Ebis shrine nearby.Benzai Ten 弁財天 = Benzai GodThe Goddess of knowledge, art, music, language, letters, river, water, and marriage. She plays a Biwa (a traditional Japanese lute) and often stays in the lotus.Bisyamon Ten 毘沙門天 = Bisyamon God The God of victory, defense, guardian, business, treasure, and health. He dresses in armor and holds a weapon in one hand and a treasure pagoda in another. Hotei Son 布袋尊  = Hotei God The God of happiness, abundance, good health, and family. He has a cheerful face with a big belly, carries a big cloth sack filled with treasure on his back, and holds a fan in his hands. Jurouzin 寿老人 = Jurouzin God The God of longevity, wisdom, and happiness. He has a long white beard, wears a unique hat, holds a long wooden cane in one hand and often a peach or a handscroll in another, and accompanies by a stag.Fukurokuju 福禄寿 = Fukurokuju GodThe God of longevity, wealth, and happiness. He looks similar to Jurouzin, but Fukurokuju has a bald with an elongated forehead and holds a long wooden cane tied with a handscroll in one hand and accompanies by a crane and a turtle. ShichiFukuJin Meguri 七福神巡り = the Seven Lucky Gods PilgrimageShichiFukuJin Meguri is one of the most popular customs during the New Year. It is to visit the seven gods at shrines or temples and collect stamps on the special notebook called GoshuinCho. Major cities in Japan have some ShichiFukuJin walking courses, for example, Tokyo has more than 20 routes. Yanaka route is the oldest and Nihonbashi is the shortest. Many shrines and temples only offer the memorial Seven Gods' stamps during the New Year, but anybody can visit those shrines and temples anytime.Here is the map of the walking route used for Nihonbashi ShichiFukuJin Meguri this time. Starting from Suitengumae station (Z10) of Hanzomon line or Ningyocho station (H14) of Hibiya line or Ningyocho line (A14) of Asakusa line, around one to two hours' walk from ① to ⑦, except for the New Year's period.If you are interested in ShichiFukuJin tours and would like to know more, please contact Japantotheworld.com. We are willing to help planning it for you.    

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  • TOKYO SANPO

    Do you know where Tokyo is actually located in Japan? Tokyo, the capital of Japan, consists of 23 special wards, the Tama area, and some islands. The impression of the political and economic center, cosmopolitan with about 14 million citizens probably come from the image of the 23 wards where 70% of people live.General idea about Tokyo might be something like;+ the center of politics, economy, finance, education, culture, and anything in Japan.+ extremely crowded in a small area (most populated of Japan)+ skyscraper+ high cost of living+ global and diversity+ busy and noisyTokyo is not only a megacity surrounded by lots of concrete. If you visit Tokyo, you might be amazed to find Tokyo has lots of greens and nature. Visiting many famous sightseeing spots quickly is one way, but it is also great to wander around the city on foot. Japantotheworld.com introduces some carefully selected walking routes to assist overseas visitors to enjoy the stay.Let’s look at Japantotheworld.com’s first recommended walking route.<Walking Route>   Shibuya 渋谷 – Harajuku 原宿 – Omotesando 表参道First, let's start from Shibuya station. Shibuya station is one of the busiest commuter rail stations in Japan along with Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Ikebukuro, and Tokyo. It is operated jointly with JR East, Keio, Tokyu, and the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, the Hanzomon Line, the Fukutoshin Line, so it will be easy to come to Shibuya station wherever from your accommodation.West Side of Shibuya station - Hachiko ExitThe statue of Hachiko is a popular meeting spot. Hachi is the name of the Japanese Akita dog remembered for his loyalty to his owner, waiting for years after his owner’s death which story was made into several movies. The Scramble Crossing located in front of the station is a popular shooting spot in Tokyo. There is a police station nearby, so you can ask them if you need any help. Don’t worry they speak English at least. If you feel thirsty, you can start the day with a cup of coffee at an extremely crowded Starbucks across the street. After taking some pictures at Hachiko Exit, let’s move to the other side of the station.East Side of Shibuya station - Chuo Higashi ExitThis surrounding area is always under construction like forever and changes its scenery every day. As of the end of November 2020, it is still a maze with massive constructions underway. You would look up the giant screen of Shibuya Scramble Square. Let’s cross the street to Big Camera and start to walk along Meiji street (明治通りMeiji Dori). Walk straight along Meiji street, you can find Rayard Miyashita Park where shops and restaurants are gathered around. The special outside-restaurant area with many Japanese Izakaya would give you a great experience of typical Japanese nightlife. Let’s get back here at night and keep walking straight for now. Yoyogi Park 代々木公園, Meiji Shirin 明治神宮, Harajuku 原宿 Keep walking along Meiji Street, you will reach Gingumae Crossing where big shopping buildings are around, the area called Harajuku, the place of the mecca of Japanese pop culture. You can find many Kawaii cute things at small shops on back allies.If you turn to the left at the corner of Gingumae Crossing, keep going straight the street, you will reach Meiji Shrine (明治神宮Meiji Jingu) at the end.Let’s visit the shrine and appreciate the Japanese solemn atmosphere surrounded by lush green nature. You will need 30 minutes at least to walk around this area. If you want to relax more, there is Yoyogi Park next to the shrine. It is like Central Park in NY, a big oasis in a big city, featuring fresh greens, ponds, wide lawns, and a jogging course. Many people enjoy gathering and picnicking every weekend. It is also the best place for Hanami (cherry blossom party) and Momijigari (red autumn leaves). If you want to visit Yoyogi Park, go out of the shrine once and go right along the street, and you will find the entrance of this urban park.After you recharge the power, let’s move on walking again toward Harajuku Station. The station is renewed in 2020 and some shops newly opened. There is also a world-famous Uniqlo. You can get one if you need some urgently needed clothes, which sometimes happens when traveling.There is a street called Takeshita Street where some Tokyo guide books are likely to introduce as a go-to-spot, but it is not as lively as before, so we will choose another route. If someone interesting in Takeshita Street, go straight toward Harajuku Station Takeshita Exit and you can find the street in front. Omotesando 表参道Omotesando is the name of a station as well as the name of the main street connecting Harajuku Station (Meiji Jingumae Station) and Omotesando Station. OMOTE means front and SANDO an approach to a shrine.It is absolutely pleasant to stroll through the street lined with beautiful zelkova trees, enjoying the seasonal scenery, fresh green air in spring, lushly green in summer, glorious red leaves in autumn, romantic Christmas illumination in winter. The fantastic street might remind you of the Champs Élysées in Paris. The area contains flagship stores of famous fashion brands, fantastic modern architectural buildings, such a very open space with luxurious atmospheres gives you the impression of Tokyo’s sophisticated aspect.You cannot miss must-go-to shops for buying souvenirs for your loved one back home. Two major shops are located in the middle of the street; Oriental Bazaar and Kiddy Land. Before you enter Oriental Bazaar, take a look in the shop window for a moment where some attractive traditional Japanese stuff, such as Samurai armor set, seasonal Ikebana (flowers and plants arranged in a vase), old Japanese antique furniture is displayed. Once you go into the shop, you are surrounded by Japan, enjoy your shopping on spacious floors. On the other hand, Kiddy Land sells typical modern Japanese Kawaii products. It is great fun to see toys, figurines, stationeries, miscellaneous character-themed items, you would forget all about the time.If you feel thirsty, you can find vending machines, convenience stores, coffee shops everywhere. Many fancy restaurants are also available, so take your time and enjoy strolling around.When you arrive at Omotesando crossing, you have some options to spend the rest of your day.Option1) Omotesando –> Shibuya, going back to Shibuya station through Aoyama street via Miyamasuzaka, about 30 minutes' walk.Option2) Omotesando –> JinguGaien, continuing walking through Aoyama street to another fantastic line of ginkgo trees, close to the National Stadium of Tokyo2020 Olympic and Paralympic, about 30 minutes' walk.Option3) Omotesando –> Ginza, going to the Ginza area, about 15 minutes by the Tokyo Metro Ginza line.Option4) Omotesando –> Asakusa, the Ginza line is such a convenient metro to take you to many Japanese sightseeing spots, about 30 minutes by the Ginza line.※This useful map is available at some Information centers in Shibuya. Enjoy your time in Tokyo Walking!

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  • SHIGARAKI TANUKI

    Have you ever seen a creature standing at the entrance of Japanese shops? It is a fortune TANUKI called “Shigaraki Tanuki”. Shigaraki area in Shiga prefecture is one of the six old kilns in Japan and produces fine stoneware pottery. It is said that the first “Shigaraki Tanuki” was made in the late 19th century by a famous pottery Fujiwara Tetsuzo who saw(!) a raccoon enjoying playing music by making a sound by drumming his belly on a full moon night. Tanuki means a raccoon in English and also implies “TA = others” “NUKI = surpass”. Therefore, people who run a business are willing to place this imaginary animal at the entrance to get lucky.Japan six ancient kilns (Nihon RokuKo Yo named by Koyama Fujio in 1948) are defined as a category developed from the 12th century till now and added a Japan Heritage list in 2017.1) Seto Yaki: Seto in Aichi prefecture 2) Tokoname Yaki: Tokoname in Aichi prefecture 3) Echizen Yaki: Echizen in Fukui prefecture 4) Tamba Tachikui Yaki: Tachikui and Sasayama in Hyogo prefecture 5) Bizen Yaki: Ibe in Okayama prefecture 6) Shigaraki Yaki: Shigaraki in Shiga prefecture Yaki = ware  Interestingly, both Mino Yaki with the lion’s share in this market and popular Iga Yaki are not included.Back to the story of Shigaraki Tanuki, after the famous pottery Fujiwara Tetsuzo finished the training, he moved to Shigaraki area and started to produce a life-size Tanuki figurine. Its good quality clay containing feldspar of Shigaraki area is the only suitable for producing large works such as jars, flower vases, deep dishes, bottles, figurines, etc.In 1951 the Emperor Showa went to Shigaraki, many Tanukis holding Japanese flags were placed on the street to welcome his visit. The Emperor impressed and read Tanka, a Japanese poem, about his visit and the Tanuki. Since then, Shigaraki Tanuki grab people’s attention and spread as a fortune item in the nation. The adorable outlook is also loved and it ended the current style with eight fortunes. Except for Tanuki at the entrance of shops, the Black Sun of the Tower of the Sun by Okamoto Taro and the roof of the National Diet Building are also made of Shigaraki ware. You will see Tanuki welcoming your visit when you enter stores in Japan and they will guarantee your stay with full of fortunes.Please contact us when you have any questions about Japan or things of Japan, Japantotheowrld.com will help your Japan stay perfect.

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  • MANEKI NEKO - Happy Cats -

    As you can see on the internet, it is a global fact that cats are beloved icons all over the world without any exception. People just love cats, no matter what, cats are one of the most adorable creatures in this world. Hope you all agree with it.Since ancient times, cats are preferable animals as they get rid of mice. Here in Japan, there is a special cat called “MANEKI NEKO” in a waving pose. This special cat is called Happy Cats, Good Luck Cats, or Beckoning Cats. It is believed that MANEKI NEKO raising the right paw brings money and the left paw people (customers). Some say both paws raising brings both money and people, but some say it is too greedy. These cats are widely known as a lucky charm in Japan.Many old legends in Japan came from other countries such as China, India, but MANEKI NEKO is said the story was originally from Japan, especially from the place use to be called EDO (the place currently called Tokyo), though some insist it was from Kyoto.There are many myths on MANEKI NEKO. The most popular is the story of GOTOKU temple. In the Edo period around the 17th century, a poor monk lived in a temple with a cat. He took great care of the cat and shared his meals with the cat. One day Lord II NAOTAKA took shelter from rain under a big tree near the temple. The cat of the temple suddenly beckoned to him with its paw. Right after he came close to the cat, a lightning struck the tree and he was saved his life by the cat. He was so delightful, made a great donation for the temple. After that, the temple became prospered. When the cat was dead, a statue of MANEKI NEKO was made to commemorate this miracle lucky cat. GOUTOKU temple is also called Lucky Cat temple. It is located at GOTOKUJI station in Setagaya, Tokyo.Another popular story is origin from ASAKUSA shrine. Again, in the Edo period, an old lady had to let go of her loved cat. One day the cat appeared in her dream and said if you made a figurine of her car, fortune would come. The lady made a ceramic cat figurine and sold at ASAKUSA shrine in Tokyo. The cat figurine became popular, sold very well, and brought her fortune. ASAKUSA shrine is also known as SANJASAMA among the local people and the festival (SANJA festival) is one of the three major Tokyo festivals. ASAKUSA shrine is located just next to SENSOU temple, one of the most famous temples in Tokyo, and both are located at ASAKUSA, an undoubtedly well-known sightseeing spot in Tokyo.Back to the Edo period in the 17th century, people used cats drawn on paper as a lucky charm and put it at the entrance of their stores wishing more customers come and praying for good business.The style of MANEKI NEKO has changed with the time. They usually stand on their two hind feet, raise their forefoot or forefeet, and feature a collar with a bell sometimes written FUKU (Fortune). You might see some holding a KOBAN (Japanese old coin) in their paws. The coin is written a unit of Japanese old money used in the Edo period such as 1,000 RYO, 10,000 RYO, etc. RYO is considered as a quite fortune. Traditionally the colors used for MANEKI NEKO are white, black, and red. Nowadays, there are more color variations based on your wish.The 29th of September is Lucky Cat Day established in 1995 by Association for MANEKINEKO Japan. It is a day to be thankful to MANEKI NEKO. It is also called KURU FUKU NO HI in Japanese, means “Fortune Coming Day”.In September, there are some festivals related MANEKI NEKO at AICHI and MIE prefectures where are famous for its production.MANEKI NEKO is one the popular icons representing traditional Japan. It is interesting to visit those MANEKI NEKO related sites when you come to Japan.Japantotheworld.com is ready to introduce more Japan oriented stories, please inform us if you have any specific themes you would like to know.

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