Nezu Area

Sanctuary

This is my favorite shrine in Tokyo. I love walking through the long tunnel of orange torii gates, and in April the hills surrounding it are covered in blooming azaleas. But that’s not all – when we finish enjoying the Nezu Shrine, let’s walk around the neighborhood, where some of my favorite traditional shops in Tokyo are just waiting to tempt you with their wares.

 

MainGate
The main gate is guarded by two fierce warriors on either side.
Courtyard
Recently restored, the main courtyard is a great example of red and gold lacquerwork.
ToriiTunnel
Walking through this long tunnel of orange torii gates is one of the great pleasures of visiting this shrine

In addition to having nice buildings, the hills around the Nezu Shrine are completely covered with azalea bushes, which burst into flaming balls of pink, white and purple at the end of April every year.

AzaleaNezu3
A good reason to plan your trip to Japan in April, don’t you think?

The Nezu Shrine is also gorgeous in November, when the autumn leaves reach their peak.

In the fall, the Japanese maples turn brilliant red and the gingko trees become towers of gold.
In the fall, the Japanese maples turn brilliant red and the gingko trees become towers of gold.
On festival days like New Years, traditional entertainers like these taiko drummers perform at the Nezu Shrine.
On festival days, traditional entertainers like these taiko drummers often perform at the Nezu Shrine.

Shrine hours: 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission: free

Now let’s walk around the area around the Nezu Shrine – it’s a great example of shitamachi (old town) Tokyo! Many stores have been in business since the Edo Era (before Japan opened to the West).

Walk around the neighborhood and we’ll see:

•Calligraphy brush stores.

•Paint stores selling brilliant powdered pigments for the artists who attend the venerable art school in the area.

•Housewares stores selling old-fashioned goods like wickerware pillows.

Tsukudani shops selling many varieties of traditional crispy sweet and salty snacks. Most tsukudani are made from bits of seafood, meat or seaweed and eaten over rice.

The owners of this store have been making wooden buckets here since the 1500s, and have the ancient tools (still in use!) to prove it.
The owners of this store have been making wooden buckets here since the 1500s, and have the ancient tools (still in use!) to prove it.
LanternStore
This store sells festival lanterns, made to order with the sponsor’s name brushed on the front.
ChiyogamiCats
This chiyogami store sells washi paper printed with old-fashioned patterns, some with scenes suitable for framing. One of their prints is even in a painting by Van Gogh.

Nearby is Zenshoan Temple, which has a tall gold Kannon statue and magnificent peonies (in May). If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in August, stop in at the temple’s Ghost Museum (¥500). Telling ghost stories is one of the traditional ways Japanese kept cool in summertime because they “send a chill up your spine.”

GoldKannon

And finally we get to the Nenneko Store, which sells only cat-themed merchandise. There is a lovely hand-drawn cat map posted outside showing which cats live at which neighborhood houses.

Catmap

Across the street from the cat store is Yanaka Cemetery, where one of the Tokugawa shōguns is buried.

NEZU AREA MAP

Nearby destinations: Koshinzuka Market, Origami Center, Rikugi-en, Yushima Shrine

Read a novel set in Tokyo

More Nightshade book goodness here, in case you think you might want to, you know, read it or something
A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car at the local shrine, and the more Yumi Hata learns about her best friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more

 

 

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