Tokyo Diaries – Plum Blossoms, Torii and a Cat

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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.

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  1. e

    So much pretty!
    Here it's still too early and cold for trees to bloom.
    Seems you got more lovely weather again this weekend.

    Is the neko wearing a fur collar?
    Aw, no neko-face. But the tail looks great, so fluffy.

  2. I dont know what was up with that – it looked like they dyed his neck fur red, which I heartily disapprove of. Could have been a fur collar though, in hindsight.

  3. e

    I thought the same as you at first glance – no dye policy included – but at least in the pic the red bottom part of his chest fur sticks out at a slightly odd angle so I hoped it was a collar.

  4. S


    So pretty! Up in Iwate we are still snow covered. I'm heading back to the states at the end of this month and I was thinking about staying in the south for a day or two for some spring shots before my flight. I think this post might have confirmed a night or two in Tokyo!

    Good to see you are out and about!

  5. H

    Does Tokyo just not have winter? I remember you posting pictures of trees still with their fall leaves back in December and now you're posting spring blossoms, here in the states it's been snowing that whole time!

  6. Tokyo does have winter, but it doesn't snow here more than once or twice a year. It gets pretty chilly and usually around freezing at night or even lower, but not real cold by the standards of anyone who's lived in a place like Chicago.

    Plum blossoms come in very early every year, usually before the last snowfall. We won't be seeing sakura for another 4-5 weeks in any quantity.

  7. H

    Ah that makes more sense then, I'm used to basically everything blooming at once so I hadn't even considered that possibility.

  8. G

    I think you guys don't get to complain in the presence of a Canadian (me), it's been snowing/hailing/raining/storming in my place for three weeks straight. I don't think we've seen a winter this bad in ages. Tokyo looks so sunny right now..>.<…I want to be there!

  9. J

    Just scrolled through the pictures and saw the Tori walkway, and first thing which came to mind was Fushimi-Inari. Must remember this as somewhere to visit if I'm ever in Tokyo and want an escape to a shrine

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