The red drum bridge featured on Utagawa Hiroshige’s “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo”

Japan: Tokyo (Kameido Tenjin Shrine Wisteria Festival)

The Kameido Tenjin Shrine, constructed in 1662, is home to one of Japan’s few remaining red drum bridges which has been immortalized in Utagawa Hiroshige’s “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.” It is also one of the few places in Tokyo, and the most popular one in fact, where you can see beautiful wisteria flowers from late April until the beginning of May. During this time, the shrine hosts its annual Fuji Matsuri or Wisteria Festival where over 100 wisteria roots appear in full bloom. The blooms are illuminated from sunset until midnight and are a site to see with the lit up Tokyo Skytree in the background.

Wisteria is a flowering plant that is native to the Eastern United States as well as China, Korea and Japan. Replicas of these flowers dangling from hair pins have been used to decorate the hair of maiko (apprentice geisha) during the month of May. These hair pins are known as hana kanzashi and the flower ornaments change to reflect the season.

At the shrine these lovely lavender-colored flowers that are comprised of several bunches dangle from overhead trellises and reflect off of the pond under the famous drum bridge. They were planted during the Edo period and are legendary in Japan due to the numerous ukiyoe prints and other works of art which featured them.

During the matsuri, several food stalls line the grounds of the shrine and various traditional Japanese musical performances are offered lending to the true festival atmosphere.

The Kameido Tenjin Shrine is 15 minutes on foot from either the north exit of Kameido Station or Kinshicho Station on the Sobu Line. You can also take the Tokyo Metropolitan bus to the Kameido Tenjin-mae stop.

As the season moves from the pink sakura (cherry blossoms) to the lavender fuji (wisteria), both locals and tourists cram into the relatively small space that comprises the shrine hoping to get a glimpse of these beautiful flowers. The weekends are particularly busy therefore it is advisable to visit during the week, if you can.

Kameido Tenjin Shrine

Kameido Tenjin Shrine

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The red drum bridge featured on Utagawa Hiroshige’s “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo”

The red drum bridge featured on Utagawa Hiroshige’s “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo”

Hana kanzashi

Hana kanzashi

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Tokyo Skytree in the background

Tokyo Skytree in the background

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Shrine web page:                  http://www.kameidotenjin.or.jp/english/index.html

Address:                                3-6-1 Kameido, Koto-ku

Telephone number:              03-3681-0010

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