For weeping wisteria in the spring and blossoming chrysanthemums to brighten up your autumn, this beautiful shrine in downtown Tokyo is a must-visit.
Built in 1661, Kameido Tenjin Shrine is located in Tokyo’s Koto Ward in a sleepy, downtown area known as shitamachi (traditional area). The shrine is an integral part of local life, and if you’re lucky enough, you might catch a Japanese wedding ceremony or blessings of pregnant women and newborns being performed there.
The shrine, with its signature red bridge and scenic seasonal flowers, is also a place of worship for the Shinto god of learning. The three bridges leading to the main shrine are said to represent life, with the onnabashi (woman’s bridge), otokobashi(men’s bridge), and hirabashi. The picturesque arches represent the future, past, and present, respectively.
The kamein Kameido means turtle in Japanese, and you will see plenty of them sunbathing in the shrine’s pond. Watch these cute reptiles as you take in the shrine’s architecture and wisteria trellises.
Seasonal festivals and flowers
Visit in winter, and you will see Japanese students braving the cold and feverishly writing on ema(wish boards), eager to ace their entrance exams and get accepted to their school of choice. Wish them a heartfelt “Ganbatte!” (“Good luck!”) to lift their spirits.
Visit in summer for Reitaisai, the main festival of the shrine held in late August every four years.
A picturesque temple with stunning views of Tokyo Sky Tree, Kameido Tenjin truly comes alive during Golden Week, a Japanese holiday every May, when its wisteria bloom for the Wisteria Festival. Be sure to bring your camera because the azalea shrubs complement the pale color of the wisteria petals, giving you the perfect background for a selfie. Expect crowds during Golden Week, but rest assured that you will have ample opportunity to maneuver around the grounds day or night, as the wisteria is lit up at night for evening visitors.
While the shrine’s main festival is during Golden Week, Kameido Tenjin Shrine also has a Plum Festival in February and Chrysanthemum Festival in October. Once you’ve toured the grounds of Kameido Tenjin, head to the nearby Japanese confectionery shop, Funabashiya, to try their famous kudzu mochiand other traditional sweets.
Dig Japanese shrines? Read more on where to find them!