Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Golden Week

Nezu Shrine

The Nezu Shrine is in the north central part of Tokyo. It was founded in 1705 and is famous for the Azalea Festival. The Azalea Festival is held from mid-April through the end of Golden Week (first week of May). I almost let this Festival slip past me.

Dina and I went up on Wednesday to see the Shrine, azaleas, and the Festival. Google Maps gave us our route to the Shrine (1.5 hours). However, we were assuming because of Golden Week, the 30-minute delay was caused by “extra passenger load” – our trip actually took 2 hours. Dina had the patience of a saint with me today!

The Shrine was very large and had a large garden full of azaleas. Unfortunately, most had already bloomed. Only a few blossoms remained. I will need to visit earlier next year to truly experience the azalea splendor. Here are a few pictures of the azaleas and the surrounding gardens.

Remember how I mentioned this is Golden Week? Looking at those pictures, you might be wondering, “where are all the crowds?” Oh, trust me. They were there. Here are several of the same pictures at different angles to include the crowds.

There were so many people!! Dina was very patient with me as I waited for the perfect shot. There was a long row of Torii gates I wanted to photograph without people. We waited… and waited. Eventually, I was able to take a people free shot. Or mostly, anyways.

Sometimes, the right person or people in a photo make it much better! Notice how short the Torii gate were! We are hitting our heads! We had to duck the entire way!!

Just in case you’re not convinced how short the gates were – Dina snapped this picture of me ducking through the gates! Ha! 

I took a few close up pictures of the remaining azalea blooms.

We were able to get a stamp in our Temple Books. After waiting in line for 30 minutes… like I already mentioned, Dina was super patient!

The other interesting thing to note, was how despite not having blooms, the azaleas looked lovely. My friend, Sara and I joke about how ugly azaleas are after they finish blooming. This is what we are accustomed to seeing. Dead brown and past their prime blooms.

Apparently, not the case in Japan. Dina and I are convinced they cleaned off the dead blossoms daily because the shrubs without blooms were green.

I must also mention the Festival. It was mostly food vendors. So many interesting and unique foods on a stick! Bananas, meats, corn, and more bananas.

Or maybe you want salty nuts and dried fruits?

Maybe squid!

Or perhaps octopus balls. Three different octopus ball vendors. They are actually very delicious and tasted great washed down with a chu-hai.

Or mystery meat? Or mochi? Or noodle tacos with an egg on top?

Whatever Japanese street vendor you were searching for, you would be able to find and eat until your heart was content!

Shonan Beach 

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day. Dave and I decided to walk around Shonan Beach and Enoshima Island. When Dave and I went in January, we had amazing views of Mt. Fuji. Today we had a hazy view of Mt. Fuji and a view of a bunch of surfers!

We stopped for a burger at J.S. Cafe. I had an avocado cheeseburger. Dave opted for the sunny-side up egg and bacon burger.

I love the advice on the burger wrapper / holder.

We walked along the beach after lunch. It was fun to be back in a beach scene. One thing that remains the same about a beach town – bikes! So many bikes!

This picture reminded me of our friend, Mark, in Virginia Beach. As a surfer, he transits to and from the beach on his bike with his surfboard. I looked for him in the water today.

Saturday started Golden Week. A little research helped me better understand the holiday period. The four holidays between the week of April 29 through May 5 were established in 1948. The way the calendar falls in 2017, Golden Week is about 9 days. Many businesses give employees time off making it a great time to vacation.

April 29th was Showa Day. Showa Day  commemorates the birthday of the deceased Showa Emperor Hirohito, who reigned for 62 years.

May 3rd is Constitution Memorial Day. It celebrates the Japanese constitution that came into effect on May 3, 1947.

May 4th is Greenery Day. It is a time for the Japanese honor nature. Also, it a time to reflect on the link between humanity and the environment and appreciate nature’s abundant gifts.

May 5th is Children’s Day. The day celebrates the health and happiness of children. It was formally known as boy’s day. On this day carp streamers are flown. Carp are a symbol of stamina and strength.

We have been warned to be prepared for crowds everywhere. Walking around Shonan Beach and Enoshima, we moved with the masses.

My favorite picture was of this surfer finding his own spot to take a nap. Forget the crowds or surf. It’s time to nap!

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