Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan

274

Ueno Park (上野公園, Ueno Kōen) is a large public park next to Ueno Station in central Tokyo, which were originally part of Kaneiji Temple, one of the city’s largest and wealthiest temples and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. Kaneiji stood in the northeast of the capital to protect the city from evil, much like Enryakuji Temple in Kyoto.

>>  Vinpearl Safari and Conservation Park Phu Quoc

During the Boshin Civil War, which followed the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Kaneiji suffered nearly complete destruction in a battle between the victorious forces of the new Meiji government and loyalists of the overthrown shogunate. After the battle, the temple grounds were converted into one of Japan’s first Western style parks and opened to the public in 1873. A statue of Saigo Takamori, one of the generals in the Battle of Ueno, stands near the park’s southern entrance.

At the southwestern end of the park lies Shinobazu Pond, one of many reminders of Kaneiji Temple’s former grandeur. The pond represents Lake Biwako (in a reference to Kaneiji’s model, the Enryakuji Temple of Kyoto, which overlooks Lake Biwako). On an island in the middle of the pond stands Bentendo, a temple hall dedicated to the goddess of Benten.

Shinobazu Pond via TravelJapanBlog.com

Today Ueno Park is famous for the many museums found on its grounds, especially the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum. It is also home to Ueno Zoo, Japan’s first zoological garden.

Additionally, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s most popular and lively cherry blossom spots with more than 1000 cherry trees lining its central pathway. The cherry blossoms are usually in bloom during late March and early April and attract large numbers of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties.

Temples and Shrines

Kaneiji Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
During the Edo Period Kaneiji Temple was one of the largest and wealthiest temples in the city. It was destroyed during the Boshin War, and remnants of the original temple complex, such as its five storied pagoda and Toshogu Shrine, are scattered around the park. The current Kaneiji is a relatively unremarkable, small temple located in a quiet neighborhood near the northwest corner of Ueno Park.

Kiyomizu Kannon Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
Kiyomizu Kannondo was originally built in 1631 as part of Kaneiji Temple. Its design, including a wooden balcony extending from the hillside, was inspired by Kiyomizudera in Kyoto. The temple is home to an image of Kosodate Kannon, the goddess of conception, and is particularly popular among women hoping to have children.

Ueno Park via Condé Nast Traveler

Toshogu Shrine

Hours: 9:00 to 16:30
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free (inner shrine area 500 yen)

Ueno Toshogu Shrine was built in 1616 and is one of numerous shrines across the country that are dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo Shogunate. The Ueno Toshogu Shrine used to be incorporated into Kaneiji Temple until 1868. The shrine’s Botan Garden is open from January to mid February and from mid April to early May (600 yen).

Bentendo

Hours: 7:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
Bentendo is an octagonal temple hall on an island in Shinobazu Pond at the southern end of the park. The temple is dedicated to Benten, the goddess of good fortune, wealth, music and knowledge. Bentendo’s grounds are especially lively during the cherry blossom season when they are crowded with festival food stalls.

Access

Ueno Park is just next to JR Ueno Station. Easiest access is provided by the station’s “Park Exit”.

For more information about attractions, please visit our website.