There are plenty of reasons to come to Tokyo this summer. Even during these hot and humid days, there are plenty of ways to appreciate and enjoy this season in Tokyo. If you decide to go, there are plenty of unique ways of immersing in and succumbing to this time of year.
Doyo No Ushi No Hi, “the Ox Day during Doyo,” is a day in mid July, this year falling on July 28, dedicated to eating unagi or eel. This tradition began in the Edo period. At that time, it was believed that eating unagi during summer would boost stamina and relieve oneself from the oppressive heat and humidity. According to legend, there was an unagi restaurant owner whose business struggled due to his trouble selling unagi in the hot summer. The owner asked a friend, Hiraga Gennai (1728~1780), a well-known physician and pharmacologist, for help. Gennai advised him to place an advertisement in front of the restaurant stating, “Doyo No Ushi No Hi” or “Eat Unagi Today, and You Will Never Suffer from Summer Heat.” The restaurant became successful, and soon other restaurants followed. This may be the first instance of commercial copywriting in Japan.
In olden days, Tokyo was a city of crisscrossing waterways, often known as the “Venice of the East.” Water transportation became the norm, as warehouses and markets sprung up at each wharf. The surrounding area was soon crowded with workers and residents, as depicted in ubiquitous Ukiyoe woodblock prints of the time. Culturally, people also enjoyed waterside attractions, such as fireworks, which became a popular summertime evening pastime, watched from both the shore and boats. WATERS Takeshiba is the latest waterfront complex that is a modern interpretation of Tokyo’s waterside culture. Ferries and cruise ships depart from this wharf to waterfront neighborhoods. The adjacent buildings also house the fashionable new lifestyle hotel, the Mesm Tokyo, Autograph Collection, as well as restaurants, shops, and three dedicated theaters for the Shiki Theatre Company. WATERS Takeshiba is a not-to-be-missed new Tokyo experience.
Tokyo Tourist Information Centers Are Ready to Welcome Foreign Guests
Tourist information centers inside and outside the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics venues have worked long and hard to prepare for the event and are now welcoming foreign guests.
Village Plaza, a brand-new facility built to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics athletes, opened on July 13 in Harumi, Tokyo. To support the life of the athletes and supporting staff during their stay, Village Plaza provides many services such as an internet lounge, café, and post office. Here also is Tokyo City Information, a tourist information center where the smiling staff, all of whom are expert guides of Tokyo tourism, welcome guests and introduce them to Tokyo.
“We know this is a very important time for athletes and other people who stay here,” said the staff, “so we will try to provide the best hospitality and do everything we can to make them feel at ease. And while its not possible for people to visit Tokyo freely at the moment, we will do our best to provide information about the charms and attractions of the city, so that when it becomes safe to travel again people might want to come back.”
Among the special projects to promote future travel to Tokyo is an origami in the shape of Mt. Fuji containing a collection of QR codes of websites that provide a variety of information about Tokyo. Along with the Tokyo City Information facility, they are distributed in two other temporary information centers in Tokyo. The hope is that people will take them home as a souvenir until the next time they visit Japan.
The five Tokyo Tourist Information centers operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have completed their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
While the number of people visiting the facility has greatly decreased since the spreading of COVID-19, the staff continues to offer guidance and assistance to Japanese and foreign travelers. The staff is also offering online assistance through the multilingual service “Online Tourist Guide,” where people can use their device to speak with a tourist guide expert that will answer their questions. The Online Tourist Guide is currently available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.
The information center is also mindful of accessible tourism, offering special guidance to people with hearing disabilities and providing information about accessibility in Tokyo.
With the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the priority of the Tokyo Tourist Information centers is to ensure that visitors have a safe stay by providing up-to-date information about places in Tokyo. In addition to this, dedicated spaces have been set up with Olympics-related materials and information.
“When the whole situation calms down and people will be able to travel again,” says a staff member, “we would love for them to experience all the different aspects of Tokyo. The traditional atmosphere of places like Asakusa, the modernity and nightlife of Roppongi, even the everyday experiences of punctual trains and peopleʼs good manners are all things that we want to help people discover when they come here.”
For the safety of visitors, all Tokyo Tourist Information centers are implementing measures to prevent the spreading of COVID-19, such as hand sanitizing, social distance, air ventilation and mask use. We appreciate your cooperation with these measures.