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!