Kyoto is famous for its temples and shrines that are many years old and are preserved almost intact.
Tokyo, on the other hand, suffered a great bombardment by US forces in 1945, leaving very few buildings with a long history in the city. But not everything was lost, because there is a beautiful place that awaits the visit of those who seek to see a true Shinto shrine.
In the Nezu area of Tokyo, as its name implies, is the «Nezu Jinja» shrine, the oldest Shinto Shrine in all of Tokyo, established in the year 1705.
This temple is dedicated to the god of the winds and the seas, and having survived the war, it is considered a heritage of high cultural importance since all its buildings date from the year in which it established.
His Majesty The Meiji Emperor, constantly sent requests to this shrine to intercede with the gods for his health. The site is designed in the same style as the great Shinto shrine “Tosho gu” in Nikko, having imposing buildings and you don’t need to travel outside of Tokyo to see them.
Upon entering the sanctuary you can see how the entire enclosure is covered by perfectly ordered nature, giving the feeling that the complex is a large Japanese garden.
Before reaching the Haiden (front shrine) there is a huge gate called ‘Romon’. This type of door is used in both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.
It has an upper floor that cannot be accessed. A karamon (the Chinese-style doors) is a type of door found in Japanese castles, Buddhist temples, and Shinto shrines. Connected to it, in this case there is a Sukibei (“lattice wall”), a 200-meter wall that surrounds the honden.
A similar combination of Karamon and Sukibei can be seen at the “Ueno Tōshō-gū”, another Shinto shrine from the Edo period in Tokyo, closely associated with the Tokugawa shogunate. Both structures were built in 1706, and both are designated Important Cultural Properties.
The haiden in the background, the romon gate and the bridge that leads to these places make a perfect postcard and is one of the biggest attractions of the sanctuary.
On the left side there is a large and beautiful multi-flower garden, and going up a bit you can reach a shrine in honor of the god Inari, with more than 100 toriis lined up to get there, very similar to the great Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto .
The Azalea festival
Nezu Shrine is very famous for its Azalea flower festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) from April to early May. The whole area is filled with multicolored flowers that give off a delicious aroma.
The azalea is a shrub with small leaves, with the edges bent downwards, white, pink or red flowers, gathered in groups of 2 to 5 and fruit in a red capsule.
This event has been described as the most spectacular sight of spring in the city of Tokyo. The sanctuary compound is quite spacious, a lot of nature and very pleasant to walk.
The Sanctuary has its own lake that passes all around and in it live some beautiful Koi fish. The Koi fish is a sacred animal in Shinto shrines since it is said that the gods reincarnated in this way to be closer to humans.
The Nezu Shrine is a truly beautiful one and has endured over time despite all the changes that the city of Tokyo has experienced.
This place is full of history, wrapped in nature, peace and is one of the few places that keeps the spirit of old Tokyo alive.