## A stunning shrine hidden in a charming residential area
One of Tokyo's best-kept secrets, Nezu Jinja Shrine is said to date back 1900 years. The current structures, which survived the air raids of WWII, are mostly intact from the early 1700s.
The shrine has a picturesque path of red Torii gates
The surrounding hills burst into color during the annual Azalea Festival
It is accessible by metro train or a 20-minute walk from Ueno Station.
Nezu Jinja is in the Yanesen area of Tokyo, short for Yanaka-Nezu-Sendagi. It is not far from Ueno Park and the main campus of the University of Tokyo.
You can walk from Ueno Station through Ueno Park, which will take you through many interesting old neighborhoods. Three subway stations are also within a short walk: the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line Nezu or Sendagi Stations and the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line Todaimae Station.
Nezu Jinja is most famous for its Azalea Festival, with around 50 varieties blooming from late April to May. The festival features food stalls and games.
The architecture, spacious landscape, and tranquil atmosphere merit a visit at any time of year. Much less well-known than larger shrines and temples such as Meiji Jingu Shrine and Sensoji, Nezu Jinja offers an authentic experience.
Built in the style of Nikko's famed Toshogu Shrine, Nezu Jinja Shrine is covered in ornate, gilded carvings that contrast with the bold vermillion pillars. Called Gongen, the decorative style is somewhat rare in Tokyo. Six of its structures have been designated Important Cultural Properties of Japan.
Along with the impressive structures, the relaxing grounds of the shrine attract local visitors. Stroll the winding paths across the hill above the shrine and gaze into the large pond, filled with koi and terrapins enjoying the sun.
Just above the main shrine, there is a small path of red torii gates, a smaller version of the famous one that leads to Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto.
This part of Nezu Jinja Shrine, flanked by fox statues, is called Otome Inari Jinja. Near the torii tunnel, you can find a small mound that pays tribute to Tokugawa Ienobu, the sixth shogun of the Edo period.
The narrow streets around the shrine are dotted with cafes and traditional sweet shops, including stores selling local favorites Karinto cookies and Taiyaki filled with bean paste. Explore the main part of Yanesen just beyond the shrine to see its mixture of retro and modern architecture, small galleries, cafes, tea shops, and wine bars. Though it is close to the city center, life has a decidedly more leisurely pace here, making it the perfect place to while away an afternoon.