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IMAGE: Nezu-jinja (drawing by Tsuchiya Koitsu, 1870-1949)
Nezu Shrine (根津神社, Nezu-jinja) is a Shinto shrine located in the Bunkyō ward of Tokyo, Japan.
Established in 1705, it is one of the oldest places of worship in the city, and several of the buildings on the shrine grounds have been designated as Important Cultural Property. It was built in the Ishi-no-ma-zukuri style of Shinto architecture, following the Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō.
It is famous for its Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) which is held on its grounds from early April until early May, and it has been described as "Tokyo’s most beautiful shrine" and as one the city's "most spectacular spring scenes".
According to the legend, the Nezu shrine was founded in Sendagi, just north of the current location, in the 1st century by Yamato Takeru (also known as Prince Ōsu), the son of Emperor Keikō. The chief deity of the shrine was Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the kami of the sea and storms.
In 1705 the shrine was relocated to Nezu by Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1646–1709), the fifth shōgun of the Tokugawa dynasty, on the occasion of him choosing his successor, Tokugawa Ienobu (1662–1712). In turn, Ienobu chose it as the guardian deity. Nothing is left from the structures prior to the relocation, but it still is one of the oldest shrines in the city.
When Emperor Meiji moved his residence from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in 1868-1869, he sent envoys to the shrine to have it intercede with the gods on his behalf.