Ueno Park, one of the most famous parks in all of Japan, is conveniently located right outside of Ueno Station. The park has become popular of the years for being one of the best places in Tokyo for Cherry Blossom Viewing. If you happen to be lucky enough to be here in late March or early April, be sure to take your time and enjoy the incredible view. The Ueno Park also contains several of the nation’s best museums which makes the park a must visit for any history buff.
Ueno Park History
Ueno Park stands on the grounds of the historically powerful and prominent Kaneji Temple, which was largely destroyed in the battle of Ueno during the Boshin Civil War. The war was between the newly formed Meiji Government and the “Loyalists” and was fought all across Japan. Saigo Takamori led the battle of Ueno, and is honored by a statue that stands at the southern entrance of the park.
Ueno Park Attractions
After you enter Ueno Park from Ueno Station, you will soon see the National Museum of Western Art on your right. The majority of the artwork here is European. Admission is 420 Yen, but free on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. Closed on Mondays. When you enter Ueno Park from the station and follow the path to the first road on your right you will see the National Science Museum just past the Museum of Western Art. Here you can see exhibits on the natural history of Japan as well as hands on experiments with robots. Admission is 600 Yen, but they are closed on Mondays.
If you follow to the National Science Museum and take your first left you will soon see the Tokyo National Museum on your right. This is the oldest and largest museum in the country and holds a great deal of national treasures. Admission here is 600 Yen and it is also closed on Mondays.
From that main path leading out of Ueno Station, you could continue across the park and eventually you would hit the Ueno Zoo. The zoo is Japan’s oldest zoo and houses many popular animal exhibits. The zoo has an admission of 600 Yen and is also closed on Mondays.
All of these museums and zoos can be found in the northern sector of Ueno Park. To the south you can find a beautiful pond as well as several temples and Pagodas.
The Toshogu Shrine (which is under construction until the start of 2014) and Pagoda are the only historical buildings that are not really on the main path. From Ueno Station head straight until you reach the main central path. Take a left and you will almost immediately see a slanted path to the right. Follow that path all the way to Toshogu Shrine. The shrine was built in 1616 and is quite stunning. The shrine is free to admire.
Go back to that main path and follow it down until you see Kiyomizu Kannon Temple. This temple was built in 1631 and was inspired by the famous Kiyomizu Dera in Kyoto. The temple is often used by women hoping to bear children. The temple is another free attraction here.
From Kiyomizu Kannon Temple you will see a path to your right leading to the Shinobazu Pond. There will be a path that leads out to the central island in the pond. This island holds the octagonal hall, Bentendo. The hall is dedicated to Benten who is the goddess of wealth, music, knowledge, and good fortune. This area is also free to enjoy.
The park is absolutely beautiful and has a plethora of fascinating attractions to take in. You could easily spend a couple days, but be sure to watch your time because the city has lots to go and see outside the park.
What You Need to Know
- Admission: The Park is free, but the Museums vary between ¥420 and ¥600
- Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 Closed on Mondays
- Directions: Just a 5 minute walk from Ueno Station
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