Pastime in the rainy season

Chiho is busy with Umeshigoto for this year. Umeshigoto literally means Ume=plum and Shigoto = work in Japanese and it is a traditional seasonal event for Japanese people to make plum wine, plum juice or pickled plum in rainy season. Rainy season in Japanese is Tsuyu and it is 梅雨 in Kanji character. And 梅 means plum. So actually rainy season is plum season!

How to make plum wine? The ingredient is simple, fruits of plum, rock sugar and any distilled alcoholic liquor such as Shochu, vodka, brandy etc. (Percentage of alcohol is more than 35% is better to prevent from spoiling plum while keep them in the container for certain period.) Put them together in the jar If you go to local grocery shops in Japan in this time of the year, you will see lots of plum fruits are in store now.

We use plum from my parent’s garden in Kobe. So our plum wine is real home made one!

We need to wait for at least half a year, better for one year. Then the color becomes this beautiful color.

The red cap container is last year’s and it is ready for drink!

Do you want to try it? Why don’t you join our cooking class? Jiro’s cooking class by TGT is specially featuring “pairing” between Japanese food and alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, Sak or, of course plum wine. We will organize more classes after July. So please check Jiro’s cooking class Facebook page. In rainy season, we need to cancel many of our outdoor activities, so doing something like cooking is pastime in rainy season, too!

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New Architecture tour will start on Jun 14

Hi! I am Mana.

We recently set up the new route for cycling tour, “Architecture tour”. It features unique, outstanding and a little bit strange buildings in Tokyo. In recent years, Japanese contemporary architects have been highly acclaimed worldwide. In this tour, we can visit some of their works, such as SunnyHills by Kuma Kengo. Japanese traditional architecture made from wood is also magnificent. The carpentry skills of the olden days  still surprise us. We are going to cycle through the city seeing from the oldest temple gate in Tokyo to the newest Olympic Stadium during the tour.

In constantly changing Tokyo, you will always find something new. We’d be very happy if we could introduce the new way of looking at Tokyo, its history and culture through architecture.

Note: We are not specialists of architecture, but just an enthusiastic fan of it. So, this tour will be enjoyable for everyone who is a little bit/very interested in architecture and cycling of course.

The first architecture tour will start on Jun 14, next Friday.                       Come and join us! We are looking forward to taking you around Tokyo!

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Jiro’s Cooking Class by TGT (JCCT) to be introduced soon!! FREE Trial on May 25!!!

Responding to various inquiries about Japanese cuisine  or Washoku,  Tokyo Great Tours are planning to introduce Jiro’s Cooking Class by TGT (JCCT) on top of famous cycling tour (TGCT), kayaking tour (TGKT) and running tour (TGRT)!

JCCT features Washoku dishes that especially go well with beer, Sake and white wine :-)! Day Class starts at 11:00am and Evening Class at 5:00pm. In both classes, the ingredients, seasonings and how to cook the beautiful dishes (2-4 courses) best matching the liquars will be explained, cooked and served but that is NOT it! They include tasting 3 different Sake including Dai-Ginjo and Ginjo!

Once officially announced, the prices per person will be min. 4,000 yen for Day Class and min. 8,000 yen for Evening Class; however, we will offer FREE class for promotion and trial on May 25. For those who won’t be able to make themselves available for the day, Half Price Promotion will be offered during June 2019!!

We are looking forward to having you experience the excellent combination of Washoku and Sake and their profundity.

 

 

 

Sakura forecast 2019

Recently announced latest forecast for this year’s cherry blossoms says it will start to bloom on around March 23 (see below map) and will be full bloom the end of March. So exciting! Some of our tours are becoming booked out. So if you are considering to join our tour, please fix your schedule, the sooner, the better !

Here are our website  Cycling Tour http://www.tokyocycling.jp   Kayaking Tour http://www.tokyokayaking.jp  and Running tour http://www.tokyorunning.jp 

See you in Tokyo this spring!

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Cycling in Beautiful Fukushima

Last year I went to Setouchi area for cycling with my Brompton, and this year my bike mate, Haruna with whom I had traveled last year suggests me to go to Aizu area in Fukushima. I have been to Aizu many times, mainly for skiing but it is first time for me to go for cycling. So four of TGCT guides, Haruna, Etsuko, Kazu and I had two nights three days cycling trip in early June, when just before the rainy season has started.

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(Three beauties and our Bromptons 😉

The trip was brilliant, beautiful natural landscape, Onsen on top of local Sake and foods , nice bike friends and beautiful weather made our cycling trip such an unforgettable memory. We discovered a lot of hidden gems which only local people know. Unfortunately the name “Fukushima” became world famous after that hideous catastrophe happened in March 11, 2011. But Aizu in Fukushima is truly lovely place for cycling and we recommend to anyone who are planning cycling holiday in Japan. Actually Fukushima (福島) literally means lucky (福) Island (島). Fukushima prefecture is divided into three areas, Aizu, Nakadori and Hamadori. The nuclear power plant is located in Hamadori and the area we visited this time, Aizu is 130 km away from Fukushima Daiishi Nuclear Power Station. Although we reaffirmed that accident when we watched TV news at Onsen Ryokan room and news mentioned Today’s radiation level as well as tomorrow’s weather forecast. In Tokyo we hardly hear this news recently, so it was a bit shocking for us…

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Anyway, here is our cycling story…

+++Day 1+++

We met at Asakusa station in Tokyo at 8 am and took Tobu Line for Aizuwakamatsu.  The best part of cycling with Brompton is easy for Rinko (輪行). In Japan, we need to fold our bikes and put them into Rinko bags.

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After three hours, we got off at Yunokami Onsen station. The design of the train and the station building are so cute and we were so happy to take pictures. From the station, it is 6 km uphill cycling to Ouchi-Juku . Ouchi-Juku is a small post station along the old trail (Aizu Nishi Kaido) from Edo period. It is only 6 km but the hill was quite steep… But that’s why when we finally arrived at Ouchi-Juku, we were so excited by those charming thatched roof houses, pretty sure we enjoyed the scenery more than those lazy people who went there by bus, huh!

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After tasting yummy Soba noodle lunch, we enjoyed nice down hill back to the station and took the train again heading to Nishi-Aizu station. Before checking in tonight Onsen Ryokan, we enjoyed easy cycling in Aizu-Wakamatsu city, visiting Aizu castle, a few Japanese Sake brewers (shopping for tonight Sake as well!) and old downtown.

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+++ Day 2 +++

It was a big day. We started Inawashiro Lake ( 500 m elevation) ended at Noji Onsen at 1,200 m for about 40 km. Good thing is that the weather is just perfect for cycling again and another thing is that I had great cycling mates.

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We started at around 8:30 am and cycling in the fresh green rice paddies are just gorgeous. The morning fog coming from Lake Inawashiro covered the fields and that give us nice and mysterious scenery to enjoy. Mt. Bandai is at our back as if she is helping to push our back to pedal further.

After 20-25 km easy moderate cycling, hill climbing has started. Among us, Kazu is the most experienced hill climber, while Etsuko is the first time to do hill climb cycling and she was a bit nervous. I am just OK, it is my second one this year after the one in Nagano during Golden Week.

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I say some cyclists passing me but didn’t see anyone who are riding mini-velo and they are all surprised to see us as we were all on small wheel bikes (3 Bromptons and 1 Birdy), and which I was proud of ! We all made being at 1,400 meters point with big smile.

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We stay at the traditional Onsen Ryokan tonight. Sagamiya Ryokan at Shinojionsen. They are a member of small sized Onsen Ryokan group called Japan Association of Secluded Hot Spring Inns. Their Onsen has nice rustic atmosphere especially their outdoor bath was super cool!

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Smells sulfur and color is creamy white, look good for beautiful skins 🙂 So we jumped into the water!

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Before dinner, after dinner, just before going to bed (or Futon) and the next early morning before breakfast, I enjoyed four times at one night stay there.

 

+++ Day 3 +++

The last day of our trip was another beautiful weather! Today’s cycling is on the road named Bandai-Azuma Skyline with 29 km distance over the Tsuchiyu pass. This was originally toll road but it is now toll free for reconstruction after Fukushima was devastated by the earthquake in 2011. Actually the road is selected top 100 beautiful road in Japan.

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After the highest point of 1622 meters, we had a rest at Jyodo-Daira. The whole area was in National park and originally created by volcanic activity. There landscape is so unique, very stark but beautiful. There are 111 volcano in Japan and 5 of them are in this area. The latest eruption was happened about 120 years ago, but we can see the clear sign that the mountains are still active here and there.

 

 

Oops! What should we do? The caution says “Poison Gas. Another sign even mention ” You have better close your window” We are cycling, there is no window to close! No wonder this area is named “Fox hell” Means that poison gas might kill small animals such as foxes or rabbits.

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All of us enjoyed down hill cycling, yeah, downhill! That’s the reward of our climbing yesterday and this morning 🙂

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We finally arrived at JR Fukushima station, the goal of this trip. We cannot help jumping to joy.  We love cycling, we love Fukushima!

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Charity ♥

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A friend of mine is a knit designer working for a famous Japanese apparel company, after she had suffered breast cancer (sadly 😦 ), she cut her hair and donated it to Non Profit Organization who make special wigs for people who lost their hairs and need wigs due to anticancer drugs. As you need to donate hair at least 30 cm length, it is not easy to donate many times for a certain period. That is why she started her own charity to knit heart shaped charms with knitting yarn that is factory waste of apparel companies and ask people to buy them at 200 yen.

I liked her idea so I ask her to make some and now we put them on the counter of our shop. Check them out when you are here !

Hair Donation   HERO

Sakura forecast 2018

It was snowy rain this morning and freezing cold! We were about to cancel the ride, but our brave guests say they don’t care, so we have decided to hit the road.

So it is still mid of winter, but the season is surely moving on and we are seeing lots of signs that spring is approaching. If you check our recent pictures on FB, you will see some photos of plum and cherry blossoms.

Here is the latest Sakura (Cherry blossoms) forecast. It seems Sakura will start to bloom on around March 25 and will be full bloom on 1st. / 2nd. April.

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Send a postcard to your loved one from Tokyo!

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Sometime we are asked where to buy postcards in Tokyo. More people use email, SNS to contact and less people send cards or letter by post. But still it is nice when you receive handwritten messages. In Tokyo not many souvenir shop sell postcards, so we made our original cards with Japanese style design.

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It is our complimentary service, so you can write the message to your family or friends on your favorite design card and drop it in the box. We will put the stamp and send it for you. So please don’t forget to write the address :–) At this moment we have 10 different designs. If you want them all, we sell them as a set at 300 yen. (Thank you for sharing the printing fee…!)

We will add more designs soon. Do you want to know who draw this? She is very shy, so only from this angle… A lady named Toki  aged 70 plus (secret…) who is a mother of one of our staffs. Thank you, Toki for your lovely works!

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New route, our the 7th. route – Time Travel to Good Old Tokyo

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We have recently launched our 7th. route – Time Travel to Good Old Tokyo. This route has 30 km and several hills, it will be the most difficult route among our seven various different routes. This tour is designed for people who have stamina and physical fitness. However, look at the picture! We are all small Japanese girls and even  we can enjoy the tour including hills, so you don’t need to worry too much 🙂

Actually this tour takes you to untouristy and off the beaten paths, where you will feel nostalgic even though is is the first time for you to visit the areas.

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It is always very glad and honor that we have many return customers. They encourage us to create more and more new routes! This time we will visit the north western part of Tokyo central  area. There will be many more areas you will be able to enjoy cycling through.

We are sure you will love the new route, too!  Route G