About Us

Orientation Tokyo: “Why are we here and What do we do?”

Orientation Tokyo was created with one goal in mind: to provide a unique experience for the world traveler who wants to go beneath the surface, who wants to really get to know Tokyo and see its history by walking through its present.

Kanda River Evening Scene, Kiyochika, 1881

Kanda River Evening Scene, Kiyochika, 1881

The concept that led to Orientation Tokyo was born when I discovered that the Kanda River isn’t really a river at all – it’s a canal! And, it was made in the early 1600s, as part of a 26km waterway to bring drinking water in to a rapidly expanding Edo.

That sparked my curiosity to find out more about this wonderful city. What other secrets did Tokyo hold? I had to find out. And I did, little by little. Along the way, as I peeled the layers away, Tokyo revealed more and more of its mysteries. It was a city of water – with more than 700 bridges. Most are gone now, as are the waterways, but they can still be seen if you look at a map. They are where the highways and arterial roadways run!

My passion for Tokyo grew as I learned more. And the more I learned, the more the city made sense and stopped being the neon-lit megalopolis of “Lost in Translation”, and turned into a city of neighborhoods dating back 400 years with its past remaining just below the surface.

I realized then that I had to share this side of Tokyo. If you know about the city’s past, how and why it developed, Tokyo becomes a much more approachable, interesting, and understandable place. And so, Orientation Tokyo was born…

Orientation Tokyo has two main areas of focus and expertise:

  1. Provide expert and entertaining information on Tokyo via History and Art Walks.  Travelers will see Edo come to life before their eyes and walk it with their feet, opening the curtains on a hidden and disappearing Japan.
  2. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!  One of the best parts of visiting Tokyo, and indeed all of Japan, is the food.  Orientation Tokyo has guides to some the least-known and tastiest restaurants and izakaya in the city and offers access to a side of Tokyo not often seen by the foreigner.

PrideOfEdoFINALOrientation Tokyo was founded in January of 2011 by a long time resident (That’s me – Paul Tierney; fourteen years and counting) to offer a more entertaining, personalized and revealing experience for the discerning traveler.  We provide tailor-made solutions to both individual and corporate clients.

My passion for Tokyo takes me to Tokyo’s back alleys and historic neighborhoods, where I am learn more every day.  In addition to running Orientation Tokyo, I am a consultant for Walk Japan and a collaborative researcher for Meiji University.  I am the author of two books and articles on the life and culture of Edo.  Orientation Tokyo was recently written up in Metropolis magazine in an article on alternative tours of Tokyo. On my tours, history isn’t a dry, boring lecture – it’s an entertaining and humorous journey through the centuries and will let you feel what it was like to live in Old Japan.

AWorldApartFINALI am also intimately acquainted with Japanese business culture (five years working at a Japanese real estate company specializing in serviced apartments), and familiar with the problems faced by people coming to Tokyo.  Not only did I go through them myself, I provided support in all aspects of daily life to our residents.  The result: a deep knowledge of Tokyo and where to find what you are looking for, be it an English speaking hospital, getting tickets for a trip across town or across country, even finding a fishing guide for sea bass in Tokyo Bay.

Why I should choose Orientation Tokyo or “What’s in it for me?”

That’s an excellent question!  Well, what IS in it for you? Simply: a unique experience that will turn Tokyo into a more interesting, less confusing, and more rewarding place. After an Orientation Tokyo Walk, you will never see Tokyo the same way again. Your time is valuable and Orientation Tokyo will make that time in Tokyo special – a walk through the city’s past and present that will let you experience the city as few can.

You will spend more time enjoying the sights and less time trying to puzzle things out in a guide book.  Orientation Tokyo will help you get to know Tokyo – and uncover its hidden delights!

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