Tokyo’s Ueno Park was once the site of one of the city’s largest temples. Now recognized for its important museums and institutions, this park is also among Tokyo’s most popular cherry blossom viewing locations. Around late March to early April, over 1,000 cherry trees blossom along the park’s main pathway, attracting visitors from all over Japan and the world. Bring a mat and picnic to enjoy hanami with delicate pink blossoms falling beside you.
Enter Ueno Park’s southern entrance and look for the statue of Saigo Takamori, a general in the Battle of Ueno. The original temple that stood in the park was largely destroyed during this 19th-century battle. The area was subsequently converted into one of Japan’s first Western-style parks in 1873.
Stroll through the park and visit the Ueno Tōshō-gū Shrine, known for its copper lanterns and elaborate wooden carvings. Built in 1627, the shrine is one of only a few Edo-period structures still remaining in Tokyo.
See the latest exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. The museum has no permanent collection; instead it showcases rotating exhibits that range from art nouveau to traditional Japanese styles.
Snap some photos of Shinobazu Pond, with tranquil waters covered in a carpet of lotus plants. The subject of numerous paintings, the pond sits serenely in stark contrast to the backdrop of urban Tokyo, making it a favorite with photographers and artists. Overlooking Shinobazu Pond, Kiyomizu Kannon Temple is designed after the well-known temple of the same name in Kyoto. Dedicated to the goddess of childbearing, this temple is often visited by couples hoping to conceive.
Near the pond and temple is the Great Buddha Hill, or Daibutsu Yama. Follow the stairs to the top of this small hill to see Ueno Daibutsu, a bronze Buddha statue dating back to the 17th century. Once a towering full-length statue, only the Buddha’s large face remains today.
Ueno Park is found northeast of central Tokyo, within walking distance of Ueno Station. Admission to the park itself is free, but some of the on-site museums charge a small entrance fee.