The Nezu Shrine (根津神社, nezu-jinja) is a Shintō shrine located in Bunkyō, Tokyō. You can easily walk from Ueno Park (about 2 kilometers) or just take the metro to Nezu Station (C14, Chiyoda-Line). It is one of oldest shrines in Japan. It is famous for its Azalea Festival (つつじまつり, tsutsuji matsuri) which is held on its grounds from mid-April until early May.
It is such a quiet place although you are in the middle of the city. I was totally blown away by the beautiful garden. You can take a deep breath of peace while sitting down on a bench, eat your bento box and enjoy the incredible nature. I really recommend you to go there if you're interested in shrines and temples - plus it is not as crowed as the Senso-ji Temple!
Although you’re in the middle of the city, Nezu Shrine is set in greenery with little ponds here and there. You can watch kois and turtles, go through a little torii pathway and just enjoy the peaceful silence.
The present structure is intact since the mid-Edo period, since 1705. The Gongen-style architectures of Honden (本殿, main sanctuary), Haiden (拝殿, worship hall), Heiden (幣殿, offering hall), Karamon (唐門, Chinese-style gate), Romon (K楼門, two-story gate) and Sukibei (透塀, attice-windowed wall) are designated as nationally Important Cultural Properties.
During the Azalea Festival the 300-year-old azalea garden stand in full bloom. It is said that the facility of the Nezu Shrine carries 3000 azalea plants of 100 species. If you want to wander the pathways between the azalea bushes, there is a entry fee (200 Yen, ages 11 and under are free!).
You can’t miss the festival – there are signposts around the streets nearby that guide you exactly to the Nezu Shrine! Don’t that come in handy?
In the mid of April when I was there, the azalea garden wasn’t in full bloom yet, so if you want to see the typical pink and purple blossoms I recommend you to come here in the beginning of May! It is said to be a little bit crowded in the afternoon, so you better be there around 10-11 am.
We did also go to Nezu Shrine in the second week of April on our trip to Japan but it was just a week or two too early for the festival and flower blooming sadly.
It does look really nice there though and it's definitely a good place to check out if you are in the area from later April to early May when everything is in full bloom.