Nezu Shrine is a very old shrine, it's said to have been established over 1,900 years ago by the legendary priest Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. It was originally located in Sendagi, but was moved to it's current located during the Edo period. For such a beautiful and old shrine, it doesn't appear to be well known amongst tourists. While I was there I only spotted 2 or 3 other Caucasian tourists.
Close up of tsutsuji (azalea)
A hill literally covered in tsutsuji
It was good for me, because I enjoy doing activities/going places in Japan where I feel very alien or virgin. But I also feel that people are really missing out by not knowing about this shrine!
Purifying with water before praying
Anyhow on the day I went Nezu Shrine was holding their famous tsutsuji festival, so it was rather crowded. The weather was beautiful, perfect for viewing tsutsuji. Oh, by the way tsutsuji are azaleas! Hehe^^ There are hundreds of azalea bushes on the grounds of Nezu Shrine, and during the festival they are in beautiful bloom. You can walk through their heavily flowered hillside for a small fee, but there are many other activities to partake of as well.
Tradtional story teller
While I was there some old ladies were preforming traditional hula dances on a stage near the shrine hall. Are azaleas originally from Hawaii, or associated with Hawaii? That's the only reason I can see for them to be doing hula dances at this festival haha! There was also a traditional story teller preforming for the little kids attending.
The shrine itself was amazingly beautiful; it was perhaps the most lovely shrine I have seen in Tokyo. The architecture of the main shrine was very ornate, but there were also many other unique features. Upon the hillside there was a smaller shrine, surrounded by long tunnels of torii! When my friend saw it, he remarked that it looked more like Kyoto than Tokyo and I am inclined to agree!
Almost like Kyoto
Nezu Shrine main hall
When you are in Nezu Shrine you do feel transporated from modern Tokyo, there are no sky scrapers or big buildings towering over-head, and there are so many features to explore. I had never been to a shrine in Tokyo with Torii tunnels before, and it was lots of fun to walk under them, though I often hit my head on them haha!
After all the wondering and exploring you might work up an appetite and festivals are the best time to fill your stomach. They had a nice selection of food stalls to choose from, but I will save those photos for the next post. (I'm really excited about that because I love food stall photos!)
Nezu Shrine torii
Dramatic photo of me in torii haha!
1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
JR Tokyo Station/Tokyo Metro Otemachi Station/6 min.
10 minutes from Nezu Station on foot.