If there is one place in Tokyo, you need to visit this summer, it has to be Nezu Jinja 根津神社. It sits in Bunkyo, an easy walk from Ueno Park. Nezu Shrine is a stunning Shintō shrine and one of the oldest in Japan, dating back 1,900 years. Nezu Shrine is set amidst lush greenery, with ponds of koi fish, picturesque path of red torii gates, and wooden structures that reflect the traditional beauty of Japanese culture. Specifically, it is famous for its Azalea Festival つつじまつ, held on its grounds from mid-April until early May. Thousands of beautiful azalea bushes bloom on its large hillside garden, making it a pleasant experience to walk around.
If the above information is not enough, here are my top three reasons that make Nezu Shrine one of the best places to visit this summer:

1. History

Nezu Shrine was first founded in Sendagi, north of its current location in Nezu, by Prince Osu,
also known as “Yamato Takeru”  in the first century. The shrine was relocated to the Nezu area in the mid-17th century when Shogun Tsunayoshi Tokugawa chose his successor. Also, when the Emperor moved his seat from Kyoto to Tokyo in the late nineteenth century, he sent envoys to Nezu Shrine to have the Shrine intercede with the gods on his behalf. Additionally, Nezu Shrine is one of the 10 most historical shrines in Tokyo and is listed nationally as an Important Cultural Property. The current structures are mostly unimpaired from the early 1700s, since they survived the air raids of World War II.

2. Nezu Shrine Bunkyo Azalea Festival

Nezu Shrine hosts Bunkyo Azalea Festival, which happens every April. Thousands of Azaleas bloom in pink, red and white, and in different shapes and sizes, offering spectacular scenery. There are over 3,000 azalea plants in around 100 species. These different varieties of azalea have their various characteristics making it a long blooming period. The festival also features stalls selling food, handicrafts, games, as well as traditional entertainment such as song and dance performances. The azalea gardens are open to the public only at the time of the Bunkyo Azalea Festival and require a small entry fee of 200 yen.

3. Architect

Nezu Shrine is built in the style of Nikko’s famed Toshogu Shrine and is covered in embellished, gold plated carvings that contrast with the bold vermillion pillars. This decorative style is called Gongen and is rare in Tokyo. Just above the main shrine, across the hill, there is a small iconic path of red torii gates called Senbon Torii, a smaller version of the famous torii tunnel at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto . There is a smaller shrine, flanked by fox statues, and is called Otome Inari Shrine. This shrine overlooks the main shrine buildings and a sizable pond directly below, filled with koi and turtles.
If you are interested in exploring less crowded and quaint parts of Tokyo, visit Nezu shrine and its surrounding area. It’s beautiful and rich in history and culture. The shrine gets extremely busy during Azalea Festival but is generally a quiet place year-round. You can watch fish and turtles enjoying the sun, go through the little torii pathway and just enjoy the green tranquil atmosphere which makes it worth a visit at any time of year. At least, it is the closest you can get to o a red-torii tunnel in Tokyo!

Access:

5 mins walk from Nezu station or Sendagi station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line) or 5 mins walk from Todaimae station (Tokyo Metro Nanboku line)

Hours:

9:0017:00

Fee:

Free
Nezu Jinja 根津神社

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Nezu Jinja 根津神社

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azaleas in tokyo

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