Walk For Smiles Tour - delving into Tokyo's Samurai past, for charity

Nov. 24, 2015


The BCCJ is pleased to announce that our Walk For Smiles tour held on Saturday, 21 November 2015 raised JPY140,000 for charity. 

For the second consecutive year, BCCJ member company Walk Japan very generously donated all proceeds from the special one-day guided walking tour to the BCCJ's Books For Smiles project* which, in association with NPO Bridge For Smile, supports Japan's care leavers into work and higher education. 

After starting out from Tokyo station's Nihombashi exit on a bright autumn day, the first highlights of the walk included a visit to the site where the home of William Adams, Japan's first western (British) samurai, once stood, as well as a detailed tour of the Imperial Palace grounds.

Guide Paul Tierney went on to introduce the group to a variety of spots around the city, while refering to related scenes depicted in ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Following a traditional Japanese lunch in Ueno, the group then headed to Ueno Park to discover the fascinating history behind "The Last Samurai" statue, depicting Saigo Takamori (1828-1877), inspiration for Ken Watanabe's character in the 2003 film of the same name.

The hugely informative and enjoyable day was wrapped up with visit to the iconic Senso-ji shrine in Asakusa.

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What participants said

"The tour truly captured the rich history of Tokyo, going into depth about influences from the Edo period. Through the city's nooks and crannies, we saw how the ancient culture still shines through today. We visited some of Tokyo's greatest historical sites, learned how Edo evolved, and how it developed from a samurai stronghold to a modern city."

"It was really a pleasure for me to join the tour of Walk for Smiles . . . I enjoyed the tour very much! Even though I am Japanese, I didn’t know much about the details of some history which Paul explained to us. I now think I should study our history more, especially from around the Edo era and after. It was interesting to see and compare the current scene and the old pictures which show exactly the same place, especially Nihonbashi area, where I often go!"

"As a Japanese national, the places we visited and the historical trail of each place were more or less familiar to me, but seeing them all in an organised way gave me fresh insights. Every site was interesting but the starting point of Tokaido (in Nihonbashi) and Sensoji were especially impressive. As you may know, Nihonbashi is the starting point of all big roads in Japan. When we go for a drive along with any of those big roads, we now and then find small signs by the road telling us how far that point is from Nihonbashi. Therefore I knew the count starts from Nihonbashi, but it was my first time to physically see the “zero” point! About Sensoji, I visited there dozens of times but never realised how Sensoji was established and that the “hidden Buddha” was inside it. The story of the hidden Buddha is a very Japanese, idyllic one which reminds me of the story of Koyasan. In Koyasan, the founder of Shingon school of Buddhism is believed to be still alive deep inside the forest, so even today monks prepare and bring breakfast every morning - although the founder lived in the 10th century. Thank you very much for giving me a chance to explore the history of Tokyo. It was very interesting and informative."

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A big thank you to everyone who joined us, and especially to our guide from Walk Japan, Paul Tierney, for the fascinating insights into Tokyo's past.

Please click here to see some of the photos from the tour

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Books for Smiles

  • The BCCJ's Books for Smiles programme invites firms of all sizes and across all industry sectors to support the professional development of Japan’s disadvantaged youth by donating books. All proceeds from the sale of second-hand books are used to provide tuition for youngsters leaving social welfare facilities in Japan, supported by NPO Bridge For Smile.
  • According to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, an estimated 30,000 children and young adults reside in approximately 600 social welfare facilities across the country.
  • Most are in care due to parental problems such as neglect: it is estimated that 60-90% of children living in homes were subject to abuse by a parent or adult before entering the welfare system.
  • With most facility residents suffering from issues related to low self-esteem, only a few are in tertiary education: 20-30%, against the national average of 70-80%.
  • More about Books For Smiles HERE