When you have little time to spend in Tokyo, but want to see a wide variety of things, Ueno Park is a great option. Ueno Park is the largest public park, located in the northeast part of central Tokyo. The park grounds have a rich history; the land was part of Kaneiji Temple (the largest and richest temples in Tokyo) and during the Boshin War, battles were fought on the ground.
After the war, the park was opened to the public and has since become a very popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. Several museums are located in the park, as well as various shrines and temples and even a zoo. In addition, the park is home to over 1,000 sakura trees, making it a popular spot for Hanami. We have developed a route for you that takes you through some of the most interesting and/or beautiful places in the park. Let’s discover the main places to visit!
When you want to learn more about the places, culture and history of Japan, we recommend that you explore the area with a guide. We are happy to customize a tour for you, showing you the places you want to experience! Learn more about our private tours!
1. The statue of Saigo Takamori
When you enter the park from the south and go up the two stairs, you will see a very important statue on your right. It is the statue of the famous saigo Takamori, one of the most influential samurai in all of Japan. Takamori was one of the commanders who led the Meiji Restoration in 1868. After growing discontent with the government, he once again led an army of former samurai in their final battle. Does this story sound familiar to you? He was the inspiration for the filmmakers of The Last Samurai!
2. Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple
As you continue straight ahead, passing the Tomb of the Shogitai Warriors (behind the Saigo Statue) on your right, you will soon see the Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple on your left side. This temple is one of the busiest temples in the park, women who want to conceive leave a doll here for the 1000-armed goddess Senju Kannon. Or when their wish is granted, the women turn to pray for good health and protection.
Many say that the Kannon-do temple resembles the Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto! What do you think?
When you stand on the wooden viewing platform and look to the right, you will see Tsuki no Matsu, which translates to Moon Pine. Look through and you’ll have a great view of Temple of Bentendo. This temple was built in the middle of the Shinobazu pond and enshrines the goddess BenzaitenShe is the only female member of Japan’s seven lucky gods and the goddess of all things that flow such as luck, wisdom, and wealth.
3. Hanazono Inari Shrine
You are probably familiar with the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, with its famous vermilion torii gates. But did you know that there is also a smaller version located in Tokyo? As you descend from Kannondo Temple and turn right, you will soon see the iconic red torii gates on your left. These belong to Hanazono Inari Shrine, one of an estimated 30,000 kami Inari rice shrines. The torii gates, which symbolize the path from earth to heaven, were donated by companies to the shrine. This sanctuary is also associated with good relationships, both business and private.
4. Rue Sakura-from
When you find yourself in Tokyo in late March or early April, you’re in luck! For two weeks, the 1,000 sakura will be in full bloom, displaying their beautiful colors. There are different types of Sakura in Ueno Park, ranging from early blooming oh i will grow up et Kanhizakura to Shidarezakura et algoiyoshino–sakura. Ueno Park is one of the most popular places for hanami, with sakura-dori street as highlighted.
Head to Ueno Park early during Sakura season, grab a coffee at Starbucks, and watch the thousands of people go by.
4. Time bells
Since the Edo period, people were told the time by means of bells or Toki no Kane. The bell’s timing system ensured that every day at exactly 6 am, at noon and for the last time at 6 pm, the bell rings. Today, the bell still rings, so when you are in Ueno Park right now, see if you hear the bell.
5. Toshogu Shrine
Toshogu Shrine is a Shinto shrine that was built and dedicated in 1627 in memory of tokugawa leyasu, the founder of the Edo-Shogunate. What makes this shrine very special is the fact that it is still there in its original form. He survived many earthquakes, firebombs, and even the Ueno War, which was going on around him. Perhaps the reason it still exists is that it was built on a hill, or perhaps because of its construction.
You will be greeted with a golden façade as you make your way to the shrine and be sure to get a close look at the beautiful carved creatures, representing power and resurrection. On both sides of the path you will see many lanterns, a gift from the daimyo when used by the shogun.
6. Ueno Zoo
Opened in 1882, Ueno Zoo is the oldest zoo in Japan and is home to some 2,600 animals, including the panda. xiang xiangwho became instantly famous after his birth in 2017. For only 600, you can enter the soo and meet the cute giant panda!
7. Ueno Park Museums
Ueno Park is famous for the many museums located on the park grounds. With a good variety, they cater to all tastes and are definitely worth a visit. For those who wish to learn more about Japanese art and culture, the Tokyo National Museum or TNM is a must-see.
Tip: At the north exit of the park, you’ll find the Geidai Art Plaza art gallery. Here you can buy artistic souvenirs and quietly enjoy a cup of coffee on the terrace.
These are just a few of the many great options that Ueno Park has to offer. As we said before, when your time is limited, but also if you are looking for something to do, Ueno Park is a great option. It features many interesting places and allows you to experience various aspects of Japanese culture and history.
To get the most out of your visit, we recommend that you explore the city with a guide. Discover our tours:
Tokyo 4-Hour Private Walking Tour
Total Tokyo Experience
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