The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is welcoming all guests to the IEC, and is happily offering a variety of complimentary programs to let registered guests from overseas enjoy Japan and Tokyo to the maximum.
Those have been specially tailored to provide registered participants with various experiences of Tokyo and its vicinity; from food and culture to other attractions, so that they won’t miss the opportunity to enjoy visiting the country rather than only doing business and attending conferences.
Registered guests should sign up for the tours and cultural programs at the “Tokyo City Information Desk” on the first basement floor of the Tokyo International Forum. This desk will open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day during the meeting from Nov. 4 to 14. Bookings will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
One program offers complimentary bus tours that will run from Nov. 7 to 14. Each of these half-day tours, which include the services of an English-speaking guide, take people to some of the most popular sightseeing areas in Tokyo. Each of the day tours takes about three hours and the evening tours take two hours.
For example, on Nov. 11 from 9 a.m. and Nov. 14 from 1:30 p.m., a tour bus will make its way to Tokyo Skytree. Attendees will be given a genuine insider’s look at the capital’s latest icon and world’s tallest broadcasting tower at a height of 634 m, in Sumida Ward, where Edo culture thrives to this day.
They will board an elevator that travels at a top speed of 600 meters per minute, taking them to the main structure consisting of a steel skeleton employing steel frames to double the standard strength, to the glass-enclosed 360° observation deck 350 m above the ground.
From here tourists can see many of the famous features of the Tokyo cityscape, including the Rainbow Bridge in the bay area, and, on a clear day, Mt. Fuji in the distance.
On Nov. 11 and 14 from 1:30 p.m., another tour to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa will be offered. The temple is truly a historical haven in modern Tokyo, a gem of the old Edo period (1603-1868).
The capital’s most famous and oldest Buddhist temple was founded here in 628. The famed gate Kaminari mon (Thunder Gate) is a popular sight with its huge red lantern. After entering the gate, people have the chance to browse 200 meters of stalls selling traditional goods and souvenirs that line the way between the gate and the temple.
It is recommended that people on this tour bring small denominations of yen along for purchasing souvenirs.
Other venues to visit are Hama-rikyu Gardens, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo National Museum, Meiji Jingu Shrine, Edo-Tokyo Museum and Tokyo Night View Tour.
The free cultural programs conducted in English will also give guests an opportunity to get a real feeling for Japanese culture and traditions. Each of these cultural programs will be offered from Nov. 11 to 14, and each lasts between 1.5 and 2 hours.
Guests can try wearing kimono, flower arrangement, Ukiyo-e, wood-block printing and tea ceremony.
On Nov. 11 and 12, the dress in kimono program will be offered. The kimono is an internationally recognized symbol of Japan with a distinctive T-shape, wide sleeves and a sash called an obi that secures the gown around the body. Kimono is still commonly worn today on formal occasions and men and women alike are welcome to participate in this memorable cultural program.
At the tea ceremony offered on Nov. 14, guests can learn from an English-speaking host how the traditional sado (tea cermony) experience expresses the Zen philosophy of living in the moment. An elaborate ritual performed in a peaceful setting, sado offers an exercise in contemplation and conversation as much as an opportunity for refreshment — exquisite utensils and bowls are employed to heighten the aesthetic experience, and sweets are served as accompaniments.