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Friday, 21st February 2014
In Events In Japan,

Bunkyo Azalea Festival

As April rolls around, visitors will be flocking to Japan for its world-renowned cherry blossom season, but those in Tokyo looking for a bit of variety are advised to check out an equally stunning event at the Bunkyo Azalea Festival.

The botanic celebration takes place at Nezu Shrine, where around 3,000 azalea plants of over 100 different varieties can be found. These burst into bloom during April - the exact dates vary - and it's worth taking a stroll through the gardens to witness the extraordinary colours.

Tourists going for the first time can expect to be accompanied by thousands of fellow international visitors as these are the only dates in the year that Nezu attracts attention from foreign visitors.

Wander through the beautiful bursts of colour, keeping an eye out for rare varieties such as Fuji-tsutsuji (which has tiny bean-size flowers), Hanaguruma (pinwheel-like flowers), and Karafune (recognisable by its black petals).

As well as the flowers, there will be entertainment in the form of traditional taiko drumming, along with an antique fair, a plant fair and other enjoyable activities.

It's also worth taking a look at Nezu's mikoshi, or portable shrines. These were dedicated by the sixth Tokugawa Shogun Ienobu and were restored in 2006 on the 300th anniversary of the shrine’s erection. While the temple has three in its possession, only one is brought out for visitors to see.

Finally, Nezu's main building - which is usually closed to the public - will be open at certain times and welcoming people in to view the beautiful rooms within. Expect to see historical architecture, statues and paintings that are not generally presented to the public.

Japan's wealth of shrines means that, no matter where you travel to and what time of year, you will always have an event to attend as many hold one or two festivals per annum. 

Written by Graham McPherson