Azalea Festival may not be as popular as sakura season but it is as beautiful. For some time now, going to Nezu Shrine has been on my places-to-go list. The festival this year gave us some push to finally visit the shrine last Sunday. After paying homage to Hachiko and Dr. Ueno at Tokyo University's Yayoi Campus, we walked a little further down the hill to see the azalea flowers.

 

Azalea Festival at the Heart of the Metropolis

 

Although Nezu Shrine is located near Tokyo"s major landmarks, it is one of the less popular place especially for foreign tourists. But when the weather starts to warm up and the flowers begin to bloom, this place tends to be filled with locals and tourists mostly in big groups.

 

From Todaimae Station going to Nezu Shrine was not difficult to find. Signages were posted strategically to serve as guide. For locals, the festival is more popularly known as つつじ祭り (Tsutsuji Matsuri). From the shrine entrance, we can see the small hill filled with azalea bushes in different colors.

 

Azalea garden from the entrance gate

 

Approaching the Azalea slope

 

View of the garden from the small bridge in front of Rou-mon Gate

 

After enjoying some minutes looking at the flower bushes with heads popping from time to time, we decided to enter the garden, There is a small entrance fee of JPY200 to enter the azalea garden. Walking around was like joining a pilgrimage that day because of the influx of people. However, looking at more than 100 varieties of azalea made me forget about that.

 

azalea festival
Upclose with the Azalea flowers

 

Locals and tourists enjoying the blooms

 

View of Rou-mon Gate from the Azalea Garden

 

The torii tunnel and azaleas of Nezu Shrine

 

Walking inside the Azalea Garden

 

First time to see this bright orange color

 

We also walked under the tunnel-like toriii (gates) until we were close to the shrine"s main hall. Before going to the main hall, we first went to the small flea market and food stalls nearby.

 

The Torii tunnel of Nezu Shrine

 

The Otome Inari deck famous for matchmaking

 

The flea market inside Nezu Shrine

 

The Main Hall of Nezu Shrine

 

Long line of people waiting for their turn to pray in front of the Main Hall

 

Fortunes tied along the ropes of the Goshuin queue

 

On our way home, instead of going back to Todaimae statio, we walked a little more towrads Ueno Park. It is fascinating to see the mixture of old and new.

 

A heritage house now used as restaurant