On my last full day in Japan, I checked out early from my apartment in Tokyo and headed to a hotel next to the airport in Narita (Chiba prefecture). I then spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around Narita. The main highlight of the city is Naritasan Shinshoji Temple: It is a large buddhist temple dedicated to Fudo Myo. Besides the temple buildings, Naritasan is famous for its Gion festival, held every summer, its massive Great Pagoda of Peace and a large garden.
After eating ramen, I was walking at random and taking pictures in Ikebukuro. Next thing I knew, I was on a pilgrimage through the temples in the area, ending at Gokoku-ji in Bunkyo.
While I was at Zojo-ji, there was a Hana Matsuri (花まつり; literally “Flower Festival”) celebration going on. It takes place at buddhist temples all over Japan around April 8th in order to celebrate the birth of Buddha. During the festival, small shrines decorated with flowers and a baby Buddha figurine bathed in sweet tea are displayed in front of temples. Another symbol of Hana Matsuri is the parades with children in fancy clothes pulling a papier-mâché white elephant.