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When planning your Tokyo itinerary, you will probably include the historical Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Ueno Park, maybe a sidetrip to Mt. Fuji, and popular temples like Meiji Shrine and Senso-ji Temple. In my case, when I first thought of Tokyo, I pictured myself walking through a tunnel of red traditional Japanese gates. When I googled this famous Japan scenery, apparently, it is located in Kyoto – The Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine. But as I searched further, I came across these two Shinto temples that offer that same scenery I had in mind.

You don’t have to go to Kyoto to pass through a tunnel of vermillion torii gates. In Tokyo, there are two Shinto Shrines that feature a series of torii gates before you reach the main shrine: The Hie Shrine and Nezu Shrine. 

Between the two Shinto Shrines mentioned above, I prefer Nezu Shrine because of its reputation of being an underrated tourist spot. In this blog, I will tell you why you should not leave Japan without seeing this peaceful part of Tokyo. 

Located at the foot of a hill on the border of Bunkyo and Taito Ward, this hidden shrine may not be as popular as Meiji Shrine or Asakusa Shrine. When we visited Nezu Shrine, the place was not as crowded, which made it more peaceful among other Shinto shrines. Although this part of Tokyo is near other tourist spots like University of Tokyo and the newest Hachiko statue, this shrine will make you forget that you’re in the city. 

According to history, Nezu shrine is said to have been established for over 19 centuries ago by a legendary Japanese priest. Being one of the oldest shrines in Japan, Nezu shrine is actually one of the few structures that remained intact during the Edo Period in Tokyo, as compared to other structures that were reconstructed post-war after being destroyed.

Nezu Shrine is also the home of the Tsutsuji Matsuri or the Bunkyo Azalea Festival. By the time we went here, spring season had just started so the pink and white Azalea bushes were not in full bloom. But nevertheless, the shrine gives off this serene feeling; it’s as if the shrine is far away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo city.

One thing I liked about this place is that people really do come here to pray and to have a short break away from the city. There are Shinto Shrines in Tokyo that are crowded with tourists and their selfie sticks, but in Nezu Shrine, it was really peaceful and quiet. A part of me wants to keep this shrine hidden to large crowds because it will take away the tranquility of this place. But a part of me also wants other people to appreciate this simple and calming side of Tokyo. 

FACT: Torii Gates are traditional Japanese gates that are located at the entrance of a Shinto Shrine. It is to mark an area believed to be religious among the Japanese.  

The moment we left Nezu Shrine, I was still amazed by this serene place. It is, indeed, one of Tokyo’s underrated tourist spots. Touring Nezu Shrine will take about an hour or less, but it’s enough to see and feel the beauty of this place.

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