Nezu Shrine’s history of over 1900 years speaks for itself; the shrine is a cultural treasure waiting to be uncovered. Many of its buildings survived catastrophes such as fires and wars, making it one of the best-preserved shrines in Tokyo. Literary giants such as Natsume Soseki and Mori Ogai found Nezu Shrine a familiar sanctuary, adding to its already rich cultural value. The notable tsutsuji (azalea) garden of the temple hosts the annual Tsutsuji Festival, where locals and visitors gather in admiration of the vivid blossoms. Throughout the seasons, Nezu Shrine captivates guests from all over into its classic cultural grandeur.
The legendary prince of ancient Japan, Yamato Takeru, is said to have built the Haiden (main hall) of Nezu Shrine over 1900 years ago. Later during the Bunmei era (1469 – 1486), Ota Dokan, a powerful shogun at the time, built the Shaden (main building).
Fast forward to the Edo Era, in 1705, the fifth shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi executed a great additional construction plan for Nezu Shrine. During this era, several other national cultural properties of the shrine were constructed. Luckily, most of the shrine buildings survived upcoming fires and wars, and the country designated Nezu Shrine as an important cultural property in 1931.
Sight to See
Romon - 楼門
The first building you will see after walking up the Omotesando (表参道; front approach) and crossing the Shinkyo Bridge (神橋) is the Romon. The Romon, built in the Edo period, displays a model of the zuishin, or attender of the shrine, on the right side of the gate.
It is said that the zuishin is modeled after Tokugawa Mitsukuni (better known as Mito Komon to the Japanese), a famous shogun who took great part in Japanese politics at the time. This is the only Romon still standing from Edo period in Tokyo.
Mito Komon statue
Karamon - 唐門
The second gate after the Romon is the Karamon. The name “Karamon” derives from the karahafu (唐破風), a traditional architectural technique used in Japan. The gate has visitors in awe, with its brilliant vermillion varnish and magnificent, intricate designs.
Haiden - 拝殿
The Haiden also stands strong from the Edo period. Built by the fifth shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the gate is entirely lacquered and stands as one of the biggest structures remaining from its time. The structure is over 300 years old, but its sturdiness and extraordinary presence makes it hard to believe. The Haiden and Honden, usually two separate buildings, are built together as one at Nezu Shrine. The wall surrounding the building, called sukibei, is commonly seen in shrines. This particular sukibei measures around 200 meters long and is a designated Important National Cultural Property.
Otome Inari Shrine and Komagome Inari Shrines - 乙女稲荷神社 /駒込稲荷神社
Within Nezu Shrine lie two smaller shrines, Otome Inari Shrine and Komagome Inari Shrine. Otome Inari Shrine boasts its senbon torii or the thousand torii gates, which lines up immaculately from the entrance to the Haiden. As this shrine is placed at the top of of Nezu Shrine, it offers a splendid view.
Otome Inari Shrine's Senbon Torii
Komagome Inari Shrine locates behind Otome Inari Shrine. In contrast to Otome Inari, Komagome Inari carries a more humble feeling, made completely of stone. It was originally made in shogun Tsunashige’s field.
Komagome Inari Shrine
Tsutsuji Garden - つつじ苑
Tsutsuji, or azalea, is one of Nezu Shrine’s most remarkable appeals. The 6000㎡ azalea garden houses over 3000 flowers and 100 different kinds of azaleas. The azaleas come to full bloom in the end of April, which is also when the Tsutsuji Festival is held.
Writer's Meeting Stone and Ogai's Stone - 文豪憩いの石と鴎外の石
Between the late 1800s and the early 1900s, great writers such as Natsume Soseki and Mori Ogai commonly gathered at the towns of “Ya-Ne-Sen”（谷根千）: Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi. These great writers met up at this certain area of Nezu Shrine to gather or to take a break.
Writer's Meeting Stone
Ogai’s Stone was gifted by Mori Ogai as a monument for the Russo-Japanese war victory.
Wishing Kaya Tree - 願掛けカヤの木
The hefty evergreen in front of the Haiden is none other than the Wishing Kaya tree. According to Shinto legend, god’s servant snake resided in the tree, leading people to believe in the tree to have magical powers. The tree is know well known as a “power spot”, and many flock to the tree to hopefully receive some of its magic. Visitors vigorously tie their ema (votive picture/tablet) and omikuji (fortune slips) on the tree for good luck.
Tsutsuji Festival - つつじまつり (Apr. - May)
The tsutsuji, or azalea garden at Nezu Shrine boasts over 3000 flowers. Between the end of April and the beginning of May, these flowers blossom in shades of red, pink and white and even rare colors like black. The Tsutsuji Festival attracts visitors with its breathtaking and incomparable beauty. Along with the flowers are many food stands. The entry fee is ¥200.
Nezu Shrine Festival - 根津神社例大祭 (Sep.)
Held annually in September, the Nezu Shrine Festival is the largest celebration at the shrine. As one of the Three Major Edo Festivals (江戸三大祭り), the festival dates all the way back to the 1700s during the time of the sixth shogun Tokugawa Ienobu. The mikoshi float is carried throughout the nearby towns of Nezu and Sendagi. Traditional performances such as mizanomai (三座ノ舞) and urayasumai (浦安舞) are performed.
Shitamachi Matsuri - 下町まつり (Oct.)
Held in October, the Shitamachi Matsuri festival takes place in the towns of Nezu and Sendagi. Nezu Shrine hosts the festival as the main venue. Food stands, concerts and flea markets are held during the festival.
・Nezu Station 根津駅 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line C14)
・Sendagi Station 千駄木駅 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line C15)
・Todaimae Station 東大前駅 (Tokyo Metro Namboku Line N12)
・Hakusan Station 白山駅 (Toei Mita Line I13)
From Shinjuku Station 新宿駅
【Shinjuku Sta.】Toei Shinjuku Line Express / for Motoyawata
→【Ichigaya Sta.】Tokyo Metro Namboku Line / for Urawa-misono
→【Todaimae Sta.】from Exit 1 → about a 5-minute walk
From Tokyo Station 東京駅 ¥170
【Tokyo Sta.】about a 10-minute walk
→【Otemachi Sta.】Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line / for Ayase
→【Sendagi Sta.】from Exit 1 → about a 5-minute walk
From Narita Airport 成田空港
【Narita Airport Terminal 2 Sta.】Keisei Skyliner Express / for Keisei Ueno
→【Nippori Sta.】JR Yamanote Line / for Shinjuku
→【Nishinippori Sta.】Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line / for Yoyogi-uehara
→【Sendagi Sta.】from Exit 1 → about a 5-minute walk
From Haneda Airport 羽田空港 ¥760
【Haneda Airport Sta.】— Keikyu Airport Line Express/ for Narita Airport
→【Mita Sta.】— Toei Mita Line / for Nishi-takashimadaira
→【Hakusan Sta.】from Exit A2 → about a 10-minute walk
Feel the history from 1900
How does a visit to a history-filled, calm, spiritual shrine sound? Come see the autumn leaves that represent Japan for yourself! You do not want to miss out on seeing one of Japan's top class shrines.
1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m.