It’s Spring – sort of.
Attached are some pics of my outings this weekend. First off is the Ume Matsuri at Yushima Tenjin, in Yushima (a neighborhood famous as the one-time center for Tokyo’s transvestite geisha). This shrine is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the same legendary Heian scholar enshrined at Kitano Jinja in Kyoto, which I visited and photographed in January. As there, Yushima is jam-packed with Ema from students desperate to score well on their exams.
Afterwards I took the Chiyoda Line one stop north to Nezu, where one of Tokyo’s oldest shrines is located. Nezu Jinja was for most of its history a center of the Shugendou cult of Buddhist ascetics, unique to Japan. Since 1706 it’s been a more conventional Shinto shrine, and while this was my first visit I came away impressed. This is truly one of the loveliest shrines in Tokyo, with ponds and exquisite landscaping, and the adjoining Inari Shrine has a passageway of vermillion torii gates that can’t help but remind you of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.
Lastly we have some pics of Yanaka, the adjacent neighborhood. This is one of the few areas of Tokyo to survive the WW II bombings unscathed, and today is the richest area in Tokyo for pre-war buildings, temples and traditional shops. It’s not terribly well-known, but I highly recommend it to any Tokyo visitor interested in the city’s Edo (and earlier) past. There’s also a pic of a friendly cat I chatted with on my Sunday morning stroll through the cobbled alleys of Kagurazaka, my own neighborhood.