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Azaleas at Nezu shrine in 2017

Today I went to Nezu shrine in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward to see its azalea festival.  The festival had already been going for two weeks, but due to a variety of reasons I wasn’t able to go until I did.  What disaster!  It really was.  Even though the festival was scheduled to go until May 5, most of the flowers were very, very dead.  And on top of that I think the gardeners had been in there the night before, removing everything that looked wilted or close to it, so when I walked in, there was very little there.  The whole was looking very, very green.

Nezu shrine during a festival - there will be longs lines there waiting to pray

Obviously, I should have made a greater effort to get there earlier.  Telephoning the shrine to ask what type of condition the flowers were in would have been the best idea.  Not having checked before I went was a really silly idea.  Walking in to the shine and seeing just mainly green instead of a sea of colour was very disappointing.

Flowers and gates

Having said that, some of the pictures I took, were surprisingly okay in my opinion, not great though.  In previous years, I was always lucky, just went and usually got there when everything was looking good.  I think today was trying to send me a message and the message was, “You got away with being lazy in years past, but you can’t rely on luck every time mate”.  I’m really thinking that thought right now.  Next time I go to a flower festival, I’ll be ringing to make sure I go when the flowers are at their absolute best.

The other thing I realized recently, and it caught me again today was that I’m still in Pentax shooting mode occasionally.  All the Pentax cameras I had in the past had very good built-in image stabilization, whereas my new Fujifilm X-T2 with the 16-55mm lens doesn’t.  And as I’m not completely used to it I sometimes fail to check the shutter speed which leads to unusable, blurred pictures.  Checking shutter speed before I press the button needs to become more instinctual, more habitual.  I’m getting better at it, but not good enough yet.

Nezu shrine's main entrance with its torii (gate)

Am I off on a tangent?  Maybe, but I think I needed to talk about those things anyway.  Let’s get back to the matter at hand, the azaleas.  Overall, it was a pretty poor day and I overheard many, many people talking about how disappointed they were, especially as the festival was scheduled to go to May 5.  As I said I should have checked with the shrine about the condition of the flowers, but I also of the thought that as the festival was scheduled to go to a certain date, I think it’s reasonable that most people expected to see more.

It was quite a challenge for me.  What should I have done?  I’ll tell you.  Asyou can see, most of my shots were quite tight.  No wide angle shots like I was hoping to do, all the flower shots were done very close with lots of bokeh in them.

But as always, there is always next year to look forward to.  I think once the festival has finished I’ll move ahead with doing a full article on the shrine as it really is a nice place to visit.  It’s not up there with Zojo temple or Meiji shrine, but it really is a good place to visit.  If you want to check out its website, you can see that here.