Ueno Onshi Koen (上野恩賜公園), often briefly called Ueno Koen in Japanese and Ueno Park in English, is a public park located in Taito City, Tokyo.
Until 1868 here stood Kan'eiji Temple established in 1625, which was one of the three Buddhist temples where Tokugawa Shoguns' gorgeous tombs had been erected.
After Kan'eiji was burnt down in the civil war of 1868, its grounds were converted into a public park in 1876. Though most buildings of the temple were destroyed in this war, some managed to avoid the disaster and still remain here to this day.
Now many public cultural facilities are situated in this park. There are several major museums, a zoo, a concert hall, former Imperial Library and so on.
Located next to the park is the Tokyo University of the Arts, the top university in the fields of fine arts and music in Japan.
The park is also famous for its cherry blossom in spring and lotus flowers in summer.
Cherry and lotus
This area has been famous for its cherry blossom ever since the feudal times. From the end of March to the beginning of April, Ueno Sakura Matsuri (うえの桜まつり) is held here, and people flock here to enjoy the cheryy flowers. (See the article on hanami also.)
From mid-July to August, lotus flowers bloom on Shinobazu-no-ike pond, but note that lotus blossom early in the morning - its peak is around 9 AM.
Temples and shrines in Ueno Park
The main buildings of Kan'eiji Temple are now relocated to the north of the park, but some of its peripheral (or used-to-be-peripheral) buildings still stand in the park.
What still remain as Kan'eiji's properties are Kiyomizu Kannondo (清水観音堂), Shinobazu-no-ike Bentendo (不忍池弁天堂), Ryo-daishi (両大師), and some more smaller buildings. (See Kaneiji.)
Shinto Shrines - Hanazono Inari & Gojoten Shrine (五条天神社・花園稲荷神社) and Ueno Toshogu Shrine (上野東照宮, see Ueno Toshogu) - are now independent of the temple.
A five-storied pagoda also remains in the zoo (but is no longer in the possession of Kan'eiji).
Kiyomizu Kannondo was constructed in 1631.
The shrine complex of Ueno Toshogu was completed in 1651.
The Ueno Zoo (上野動物園), founded in Ueno Park in 1882, is the oldest zoo in Japan. Basically it's an ordinary zoo, though there are a five-storied Buddhist pagoda and the Kankantei tea house.
Five-storied pagoda, which once belonged to Kan'eiji Temple, was erected in 1639.
Kankantei is a thatched tea house rebuilt in 1878 after the original one was burnt down in the civil war of 1868.
Tokyo National Museum
National Museum of Western Art
The National Museum of Western Art (国立西洋美術館) focuses on Western art as its name says.
Its main building, constructed in 1959, was designed by Le Corbusier. It was designated in 2016, through the effort of the French government, as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which consists of 17 works designed by Le Corbusier from around the world.
National Museum of Western Art English website
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (東京都美術館), completed in 1975, was designed by Maekawa Kunio, a Japanese apprentice of Le Corbusier.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum English website
Tokyo Bunka Kaikan
Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (東京文化会館), also designed by Maekawa Kunio and constructed in 1975, is the concert hall in front of JR Ueno Station.
Tokyo Bunka Kaikanl English website
The National Museum of Nature and Science
The National Museum of Nature and Science (国立科学博物館), constructed in 1931, is shaped like an airplane if looked down at from the sky. It is an Important Cultural Property.
National Museum of Nature and Science English website
Sogakudo (旧東京音楽学校奏楽堂), built in 1889, was the music hall for Tokyo Music School. It is an Important Cultural Property.
Kuroda Memorial Hall (黒田記念館), created in 1928, displays works of Western-style oil painter Kuroda Seiki. Recently it became a facility of the Tokyo National Museum.
International Library of Children's Literature
International Library of Children's Literature (国際子ども図書館) was erected in 1906 as the Imperial Library. In 2015, an annex designed by Ando Tadao was completed.
International Library of Children's Literature English website
Tokyo University of the Arts
Tokyo University of the Arts is located adjacent to Ueno Park.
Along the street which divides the campus, there are several buildings, Western-style or Japanese-style, which were built before WWII.
On the campus of the university there's also the University Art Museum.
University Art Museum English website
The Shitamachi Museum (下町風俗資料館) is a museum which offers you a glimpse of the shitamachi culture (See Shitamachi Museum.)
Ueno Royal Museum
There is also the Ueno Royal Museum (上野の森美術館), whose Japanese name is completely different - Ueno-no-mori Bijutsu-kan meaning "Ueno-Forest Art Museum". There seems to be no good English website for this facility.
Ueno Sakura Matsuri
Ueno Park is famous for cherry flowers from the Edo Period. From late March to early April, many people visit this park for hanami (cherry flower viewing).
The Ueno Sakura Matsuri (うえの桜まつり, the Ueno Sakura Festival) is held during this period, and lanterns are lit in the evening, allowing people to flock to have fun eating and drinking under the cherry trees. See the article on the Ueno Sakura Matsuri for details.
In late May, bonsai trees of blooming satsuki azaleas will be on display. This event is called the Satsuki Festival (さつきフェスティバル). For details about this event see the article on the Satsuki Festival.
Ueno Summer Festival Parade
The Ueno Natsu Matsuri (うえの夏まつり), or the Ueno Summer Festival, is a series of events held around Ueno Park from mid-July to early August. Though most of these sub-events are not so large, the parade held on the main street just south of Ueno Park in an evening in July is pretty impressive. For details about this event, see the article on the Satsuki Festival.
Access: 0-min walk from JR & Tokyo Metro Subway Ueno Station / Keisei-Ueno Station
Area guide around this site