The Nezu Shrine (Nezu Jinja) is a hidden location somewhere in Tokyo, to be precise in the Bunkyo Ward, near stations Todaimae and Nezu.
The Nezu Shrine is often tipped to visit when the Rhododendron (also called Azalea) are in bloom and when the festival takes place to celebrate this. The festival, the Tsutsuji Matsuri, is held at this location from early April to early May. The period when the Rhododendron is in bloom usually starts at the end of April. There are about 50 different variations of the rhododendron on site. During the Tsutsuji Matsuri, there are food stalls, but you can also play games. But this is not the only reason to visit this Shinto shrine!
The Nezu Shrine is seen by many as an alternative to Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, as regards the path of the red torii gate. If Kyoto is not on your schedule for this trip, don’t worry, because it might be an idea to visit the Nezu Shrine. Even though this version is smaller than the one in Kyoto, it is definitely worth a visit. Once you pass through a part of these gates, you’ll end up on a platform where you can pray and look out on the water where the koi are swimming around.
Time for a little history. This shrine was built in the style of Nikko’s famous Toshogu Shrine, decorated with gilded wood carvings and the pillars with the decorative style, called Gongen. This style is somewhat rare in Tokyo. It is said that the Nezu Shrine dates from 1705 and is, therefore, one of the oldest places of worship in Tokyo. Six of the structures have been designated as important cultural features of Japan. This is another reason why you shouldn’t miss the Nezu Shrine.
The torii is connected with the Otome Inari Shrine, where women sometimes pray for a good marriage. At a short torii path, you will find another small shrine, the Komagome Shrine. Basically most striking at this location is the Rōmon Gate, which can be found just outside the Sukibei wall. In combination with the plants around it and the bridge it is very special.
If you are interested in visiting this place, plan a ride to Nezu Station with the Chiyoda Line, from here it is a 5-minute walk, or to Todaimae Station with the Namboku Line, from here it is a 6-minute walk. What you can also choose for is a longer walk, from Ueno Station. A walk from Ueno Station to the location takes 20 minutes where you can walk through Ueno Park, a nice addition to your day trip. To enter Nezu Shrine you do not have to pay an entrance fee.
Photography: Francisca Hagen