Ueno Park is a sprawling patch of greenery in the heart of Tokyo. Offering a rich blend of art, culture and attractions, Ueno is a great place to spend the day and have a picnic. If you’re visiting in the spring, then this park is also a beautiful spot for Sakura viewing!
Read on to discover more about our favourite places in Ueno.
Tokyo National Museum
No visit to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to this treasure trove of Japanese art. Boasting over 110,000 artefacts, Tokyo National Museum is Japan’s oldest and largest museum, and at 600 yen a ticket, it’s a real bargain too!
Wander through its six buildings and discover archeological treasures, Hokusai masterpieces and marvel at the museum’s collection of Samurai armour and weapons. In the spring and autumn, you can also enjoy the stunning scenery whilst sipping on some matcha in the museum’s Japanese style garden.
This stunning, gold-trimmed shrine was built and dedicated in 1627 to the memory of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542 – 1616), who was the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Despite major earthquakes, the structure of the shrine has remained completely intact and serves as an excellent example of Edo era architecture. Visitors come here to pray for longevity, good fortune for passing exams and recovery for illness.
To the right of the shrine, visitors will also come across the ‘Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.’ The flame was collected by Tatsuo Yamamoto, who went searching for his uncle in the ruins of Hiroshima, and instead found a flame in the wreckage of his uncle’s house. Tatsuo originally kept the flame burning as a symbol of his resentment, but later it was merged with a similar flame collected from a roof tile in Nagasaki and now burns as a symbol of peace. Housed inside a stone dove, this small memorial is adorned with one thousand multi-hued origami cranes, that symbolise Japan’s wish for a future free from the threat of atomic weapons.
If you’re visiting in the Spring, you can also explore the Peony Garden which was opened in 1980 to commemorate the Japan-China friendship.
If you can’t make it to Kyoto to visit the Fushimi-inari Shrine, then Hanazono-inari is a wonderful alternative. Vermillion torii gates line the path to the main shrine, which offers a quiet refuge from the rest of Ueno Park. Pay homage to god of love and matchmaking whilst taking in the picturesque surroundings.
Continue on past Hanazono-inari and you’ll find yourself facing an enormous pond, brimming with lotuses and emerald green foliage. Reaching their peak in July and August, these pink blossoms symbolise purity and beauty and offer a quiet urban oases when you need to escape from the city.
During the Summer, there are also regular flea markets just by the pond, so you can browse antique jewellery and postcards while taking in the beautiful scenery.
Modelled after Chikufujima Island’s Hogon-ji Temple, Bentendo Temple rises from the middle of Shinobazu Pond, on an island built by Archbishop Tenkai (founder of the Kaneji Temple) during the Kenai Period. He then enshrined an image on Benzaitenin it to pray for peace and for the prosperity and welfare of the state.
Bentendo also has many unique monuments and stone steles that give visitors a glimpse into its fascinating past. Visit this temple in the evening to enjoy the lanterns when they are lit!
Looking for a day trip that takes you out of Tokyo? Why not use Hanna to visit Kamakura!