Ueno Park (上野公園) is one of Tokyo’s (東京) biggest and historically most important parks. Back in the Edo Period, one of Tokyo’s largest and most famous temple, Kaneji temple, was located here.
Ueno Park made up big parts of the temple’s grounds. Kaneji temple was nearly completely destroyed in a Civil War in the 19th century. Some parts of the old temple building can still be found scattered around the park today.
Instead of rebuilding it to its former size and magnitude, the temple grounds were mostly transformed to what is known as Ueno Park today. Kaneji Temple still exists today, though much smaller and not as impressive as the original.
Shinobazu Pond is one of the visible remains of the former temple.
What to do and see in Ueno Park
Ueno Park is famous for the many museums that you can visit here. There are 4 in total, the Tokyo National Museum, National Museum for Western Art, National Museum of Nature and Science and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
Additionally, Ueno Park is one of the most prominent viewing spots of the annual Cherry Blossom Event in late March/early April. With over 1000 cherry trees, there’s quite a lot going on here.
I came here in late March 2018 and wow, there were a lot of people there. You could barely see where you’re walking and seemingly every square meter of space had been occupied with blankets for a picnic.
I’m from a small town in southwestern Germany and this made me realize just how many people there are in Tokyo.
If you plan on coming here during that time, prepare for some hefty crowds and come as early as possible.
Another great sight in Ueno Park is Tokyo’s first modern zoological garden. If you’re interested in its rich history and the general modernization of Japan, I recommend this book to you. It’s a good read and in about 350 pages, you can learn a lot about Japanese history, especially since the 19th century.
Note: This link is an affiliate link from which I earn a small commission should you purchase anything. There are no additional costs for you.
It’s not over yet, Ueno Park has yet another thing to offer:
Ueno Zoo, Japan’s (日本) first ever zoological garden.
It’s opened every day except Monday (or the day after if Monday is a national holiday) and around New Years. Admission is 600 Yen (4,62€/$5.45), but there 3 days in a year where its free: March 20, May 4 and October 1.
If you can manage to plan a trip around one of these days, that would be the perfect opportunity to check out the whole park. Of course, the zoo is well worth the 600 Yen, so don’t shy away because of that.
How to get to Ueno Park
Ueno Park lies directly next to JR Ueno Station, which is served by the circulating JR Yamanote Line, making it very easy to reach from any other station served by that line.
From Tokyo Station:
Board the Utsunomiya Line (Orange) and get off at Ueno Station.
The ride takes about 5 minutes and costs 160 Yen (1,23€/$1.45).
From Shinjuku it’s a 25-minutes’ ride for 200 Yen (1,54€/1.82) on the Yamanote Line.
In Ueno Station, just look for the “Park Exit” and you’re basically there.
Ueno Park is without a doubt a must-visit if you’re in the area. Fans of nature, history, art and tradition will feel at home here.
Ueno also has other things to offer which I covered in my post about the 5 best things to do in Ueno.
The park is a lovely place and just like Yoyogi Park in Harajuku (原宿) allows for many outdoor activities as well as just taking a little break with some snacks or a bento lunch box (弁当) from the nearby convenience store (konbini(コンビニ)).
That’s it for this article, I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions or comments be sure to let me know!