Experience history as well as culture in nature
What makes Ueno Park special is that it is not just simply a park; you can experience history, science, and culture, and you can also spend time with animals. The park was originally part of the grounds of Kaneiji temple but was designated as one of the earliest public parks in Japan in the Meiji period (1868 – 1912). The park started out mainly as a place for viewing Kaneiji temple, Toshogu shrine and their cherry blossom trees. Subsequently, facilities were built one by one including museums of history and art, as well as a zoo. Today, you can enjoy not only nature but culture at Ueno Park. After walking around for a while, you can always take a relaxing rest at cafes that have opened near the fountain park which is the focal facility of the Ueno Park. The nearby Tokyo National Museum exhibits approximately 114,000 objects including 87 national treasure items; the museum collection is the best in Japan both in terms of quality and quantity. Photographing is allowed except for the items of special exhibitions.
Enjoying Ueno Park in every season
If at all possible, it would be nice to plan your visit to the zoo or museums of art and history according to the seasonal views of the park. Ueno Park is always covered by the Japanese media during the cherry blossoms season from late March to early April. The 800 cherry blossom trees that line both sides of the park’s path are simply wonderful; you can never get tired of a view like this. On holidays when the flowers are in full bloom, the park is visited by one million people daily. A picnic party under a cherry blossom tree is always a great fun. From mid-July to mid-August, the Shinobazu pond (Shinobazu-no-ike) will delight you with its beautiful lotus flowers. The huge lotus leaves with a diameter of at least 50cm cover the pond; a magnificent and cooling view. From mid-November, the leaves in the park begin to color; the park features ginkgo trees that line a path as well as keyaki (Japanese zelkova) and maple trees. In September, the Minarukane Grand Festival is held annually at the Bentendo temple built in the middle of the Shinobazu pond. It is said that if you receive an oval shaped gold coin called “Minarukane,” which can only be obtained during this festival, and keep it in your wallet, you will never be poor. From mid-January to mid-February winter tree peonies bloom at the grounds of Ueno Toshogu shrine. The grounds with 600 trees of about 40 kinds of tree peonies are opened to the public. Next to the Ueno Park is the first hot springs inn built in Tokyo, the Suigetsu Hotel Ohgaisou; a great place to visit on a cold winter day.