April is the month of hope and joy: flowers springing everywhere and a turn to warm temperatures after the harsh winter of Japan. In the Kanto region, Aril happens to be the flowering season for azaleas. In this feature, we talk about the beautiful Nezu Shrine in the heart of Tokyo where both flowers and traditional Japanese shrine architecture.
Nezu Shrine is located in Bunkyo ward of Tokyo. It was built around 1900 and has a long history with a total of seven halls in its precincts that have been designated as important national cultural properties.
One of the things on everyone’s bucket list when visiting Japan is getting a shot in front of many torii, the vermillion gates usually seen at Shinto shrines. Torii are said to divide our world and the spirit (kami) world. Looking at the picture below, you might think of the Senbon Torii (thousand gates) at the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, right? You’re mistaken!
Nezu Shrine also has Senbon Torii but it is much shorter than the one at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. From a distance, the sights of the path of torii (gates) winding amidst the azaleas and greenery looks stunning.
If you have the opportunity to go to Tokyo in mid-to-late April, you should not miss Nezu Shrine. The Azalea garden inside Nezu Shrine’s property spans across approx. 6,500 square meters and has around 3,000 azalea plants of 100 species.
The Bunkyo Azalea Festival goes on from around mid-April to the beginning of May.
Although the area of the shrine is not too large, it has all the essential features of a Shinto shrine. In addition to the Senbon Torii, there is also an elegant pond with carp drifting gently.
Take your time to enjoy every architectural element and forget that you in the busy city of Tokyo.
Each month, the shrine sells plaques (to write wishes) featuring the flowers of the season. Since we visited in April, we purchased a plaque with azaleas.
As you walk through the precincts, you can take spectacular photos of the distinctive buildings.
You can pick up your fortune slip (omikuji) too. Many people have tied that omikuji and if you look closely, you will notice the fortune is printed in various languages.
After completing your shrine visit, you can stop by at the specialty shops that line both sides of the road. We highly recommend Kintaro, a long-established store selling a range of traditional Japanese snacks.
Many Japanese get nostalgic as they savor these snacks that have stood the test of time.
Considered to be one of the top ten shrines in Tokyo, going on a weekday is your best bet to enjoy the lush surrounding of this idyllic shrine. Hopefully you can visit Japan next year to enjoy the season of azalea at Nezu Shrine.
Let us know if there is something that needs to be fixed: Feedback Form