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Wednesday’s Ward – Bunkyo

Bunkyo Ward is located in the center of Tokyo and is home to many of the city’s colleges and universities along with over 190 thousand residents in a 11.3 square kilometer area.  It sits alongside Arakawa Ward and is the fourth smallest ward in terms of area and fifth in terms of population.  Despite it’s small size there is a lot for the visitor to do and see in Bunkyo Ward.

A Brief History

Bunkyo-ku, translated as “culture ward”, was established in 1947 and is a combination of Hongo Ward, which dates back to the Edo period, and Koishikawa. The ward has been home to many famous Japanese artists, writers and politicians throughout it’s history it and was once the outermost boundary of urban Edo.


In February and March take in the Ume (Japanese apricot blossom) Matsuri at Yushima Tenjine (Shrine).  The shrine’s grand festival is held in May and the Kiku Matsuri (chrysanthemum festival) is held in November.

Catch a baseball game at Tokyo Dome (April – October) or visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum any time of the year.

Visit the annual Azalea (satsuki) Festival at Rikugien Gardens from late May to early June.

Dine by the light of fireflies in June or pursue the gardens of Chinzan-so year round.

The Sights

Yushima Tenjine (Shrine) enshrines the spirits of  Michizane Sugawara (845-901), a politician and a scholar during the Heian era and who was deified upon his death as Tenjin, the God of scholarship and literature.  Many students visit this shrine before school entrance examinations and pray to Tenjin for success.

The Akamon (red gate) of The University of Tokyo – Hongo Campus was built in 1828 to welcome a new bride to the then residence of Lord Kaga.  It is now a symbol of the University and will provide access to Sanshiro Ike Pond.

Yayoi Art Museum features a collection from Kasho Takabatake who is famous for his shojo-ga, illustrations of frail women with large eyes that became iconic during the 19th century.

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is beautiful garden with both Chinese and Japanese accents.  Construction of the garden began in 1629 and it has been designated as a “Special Place of Scenic Beauty” by Japan.

Visit Nezu-jinja Shrine which is said to have been established over 1900 years ago and is home to many Important Cultural Assets of Japan.

Download the Bunkyo City Tourist Asscoation’s “A Town of Culture:  Bunkyo Walking Tour Guide” (Large PDF) to read more about the sights, festivals and famous people connected to Bunkyo Ward as well as how you can rent a bike to make navigating this hilly ward of Tokyo a little bit easier.

Tokyo Toursim Info also presents three area walks.  A full day walk itinerary that includes Tokyo Dome and Koishikawa Korakuen, or half day walks that include the Koishikawa Botanical Garden or a stroll through old Japanese streets in Yanaka and Nezu.

Fun Facts & Trivia

From 1984 until 2004, the portrait of famous Bunkyo-ku resident and author Soseki Natsumi appeared on the Japanese 1000 Yen note.

Famous Japanese Haiku poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is said to have lived and worked in Bunkyo-ku.  In addition to writing his famous poems, he also worked on the construction of the Kanda water system from 1677-1680 – not very glamorous work!

Image Credit:  Flickr, Tokyo Dome, Personal Collection, Rikugieun Pond & Flickr, Nezu Shrine

Tags: Bunkyo ward, Bunkyo-ku, Gardens, Japan, Koishikawa, Matsuo Basho, Nezu, Rikugen, Soseki Natsumi, The Tokyo Traveler, Tokyo, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Travel Guide, Tokyo Travel Tips, Tokyo Visitors Guide, Travel, walks, Wednesdays Ward, Yakana

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POSTED IN: Wards of Tokyo