Personally I have never been to Kyoto, and have never seen the famous Fushimi Inari shrine (伏見稲荷大社), but I know many people would like to visit it. I am also definitely planning to go there someday, but until that I would like to introduce a smaller, but similar version of the shrine. The Nezu shrine (根津神社) is located in Bunkyo ward (文京区), Tokyo, near to Ueno park. If you are in the area of Ueno, after you probably checked the Ueno park, zoo, Ameya-yokocho market, National Science museum, and the other famous spots in your must visit list, get some relax in Nezu shrine.
Easy to access since it’s about 5 minutes walk from the nearest station, and the entrance is free. Even it’s located in the middle of Tokyo, it is a really quiet place which isn't too rare in Japan, since it is a famous fact that Japan is known for it’s harmony of nature and the city complement perfectly each other. Because the shrine isn’t very well-known among tourists, kind of a hidden spot, I recommend to choose this place for visiting instead of the crowded famous shrines in Tokyo, if you are looking for a nice, calm place to experience the Japanese culture.
This shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan (established in 1705), and highlight of the Bunkyo ward, also famous for it’s "Azalea festival" (つつじまつり). The festival is held in the garden south area of the Nezu shrine from April 7th to May 6th, and It is available for visitors to enter for a 200 Yen entrance fee. When you pay for the entrance you’ll get a free ticket for the festival of the following year, and the ticket is a bookmark of itself. The garden is open for visitors from 9:00 to 17:30.
The best time to visit the festival is definitely mid-April to late-April, because it’s the time when the azaleas are in full bloom, but of course it can change every year depending on the weather the blooming period can be quite different. The festival has about 3000 plants, and the most of it are azalea flowers over 100 types included rare ones.
Nezu shrine is popular for traditional Japanese wedding events too, since it’s an amazing, quiet, and historical spot. So if you are lucky there is a chance to personally witness a traditional Japanese wedding.There are also a bridge, a small waterfall, a lake, koi fishes, shrine arches (gates), and historical buildings as “Karamon (唐門 “Chinese gate”) and Sukibei ("lattice-windowed wall”) walls”, Honden (本殿 main hall), and Roumon (楼門, tower gate).
In case that you love taking photos, use your creativity and create a real historical memory with the gates (鳥居) just like in Kyoto. During the festival you can find several types of Japanese style food booths with delicious snacks, and meals for affordable prices, besides street vendors of small items.
|Title||Nezu Shrine (根津神社)|
|Address||1 Chome-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyō, Tokyo 113-0031|
|Access||About 3-5 minutes walk from the nearest station Nezu. (Chiyoda line)|