Written by Matteo Giuberto
Nezu Shrine, Tokyo - A Beautiful Shrine In A Green Oasis
This article features Nezu Shrine, one of the most beautiful shrines in Tokyo, located near Ueno Park. Famous for its Azalea Festival held in April-May, this shrine is a favorite destination of many Tokyoites and international visitors.
Tokyo boasts many beautiful shrines and anyone visiting this city should go see at least one of them. Meiji Shrine, for instance, is the favorite destination of many travelers, as it is famous for being dedicated to the spirits of the Meiji Emperor and Empress. Zojoji Temple, located near Tokyo Tower in the heart of the city, is also popular, especially for its long history and beautiful surroundings. There is also the world famous Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, which is full of visitors everyday.
There are, however, many other lesser known shrines, which are just as amazing and attractive. I would like to introduce to you one of the hidden gems among Tokyo's shrines - Nezu Shrine, located in Bunkyo ward, near Ueno Park. Although I didn't know about it before, after seeing it, I realized it was one of the most beautiful shrines I have ever visited.
Nezu Jinja - A Hidden Shrine in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward
Nezu Shrine is in fact one of the oldest shrines in Japan, and it is thought to have been built 1900 years ago. However, its buildings have been rebuilt several times. It is also thought that it was moved from Sendagi to Nezu during the Edo period. Not only has it been designated an Important Cultural Property, but it is also known as one of the "Ten Most Beautiful Shrines in Tokyo".
This is the entrance to Nezu Shrine, marked by an elegant bridge. Let's enter the shrine grounds and see some of its highlights.
Highlights of Nezu Shrine
Nezu Shrine's main hall is one of the most beautiful shrine buildings in Tokyo. It has been designed after the model of the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, a feature which is easily recognizable in the gorgeous architecture of the building. The entrance is guarded by two lion statues, and nearby is the place where visitors can buy omikuji - small papers for divining one's luck.
Ema are small wooden plaques on which visitors write their wishes and prayers for the future. Good health, happiness for one's family and world peace are some of the most frequent wishes. It is easy to make one. You can buy an ema at the shop nearby the main hall. Write your wishes and your name with a marker, than hang it in the special area dedicated to ema.
The Torii Gates of Nezu Shrine are renowned for their beauty. The characters written on them are a sign that they have been built from a donation. This act can be interpreted as a transition from the profane to sacred life. Taking a picture between these Japanese gates will make your friends jealous for sure!
This is the chozuya, the place where visitors perform a ritual purification before entering the shrine grounds. Using the dipper, we spring some water on our left hand, then on the right hand and lastly we touch our mouth with water. This ritual is rather a symbolic cleansing, so you don't have to actually wash your hands.
The shrine has a charming, small pond nearby. I spent several minutes here watching the colorful koi fish swimming around. Their red shapes against the background of the green pond makes a beautiful sight.
This platform hosting a small shrine located above the pond is one of the special features of Nezu Shrine, adding to the unique beauty of this place. You can take a look at the surrounding garden from here.
I highly recommend anyone in Tokyo to pay a visit to Nezu Shrine. Although it is lesser known, you will be stunned by the beauty of the surrounding nature and of the shrine itself. Moreover, if you visit it in April and early May, you can enjoy the Bunkyo Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri), an event unique to this shrine, where thousands of people gather to admire the colorful azaleas that bloom in the garden.
In fact, visiting here at any time of the year, will most surely become an unforgettable memory.
Nezu Shrine 根津神社
Address: Tokyo, Bunkyo Ward, Nezu 1-28-9
Hours : 24 Hours ( Reception hour : 09:00 17:00)
Closed : None ( Reception Hour : 17:00 - 08:00 )
Wifi : -
Credit Cards : -
Pamphlets in Other Languages: None
Nearest Station : Nezu Station, Todaimae Station
Access: 5 minutes walking from either Nezu Station, Sendagi Station, or Tokyo Metro Namboku Line Todaimae station.
Entrance Fee : Free
Religious : Shinto
Phone Number: 03-3822-0753
Homepage : Nezu Jinja Shrine