Japanese Scenery (IV): Ueno Park
Ueno Park is the first public park in Japan. Its lovely cherry blossoms attract millions of visitors annually, making it one of the most popular city parks in Japan. With its beautiful scenery and adequate facilities, Ueno Park is a place where you can wander for a whole day without feeling bored.
About Ueno Park
Ueno Koen (Ueno Park) is a large park in central Tokyo, covering an area of about 53,000 square meters. Established in 1873, Ueno Park was the first park in Japan. It was established by following the example of the West as part of borrowing ideas in the early Meiji period. Ueno Park is home to many major museums, especially the Tokyo National Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, and the National Science Museum. It is famous for the Ueno Zoo. Pandas can only be found in three zoos in Japan, and Ueno Zoo is one of them. Therefore, the panda enclosure is crowded with visitors worldwide almost all the time.
In addition, Ueno Park is one of the most popular cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo. About 1,200 cherry trees of 40 different species are planted in the park. The Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year from mid-March to early April, attracting thousands of visitors to view the cherry blossoms. Paper lanterns are scattered all over the park to light up the cherry blossoms at night. At the southwest end of the park is the Shinobazu Pond, a very popular area. In spring, people can enjoy the cherry blossoms on the shore while paddling.
History of Ueno Park
Ueno Park is located on a hill known as "Ueno Mountain." Since the Edo period (1603-1867), Ueno Mountain has been a famous site for cherry blossom viewing because of its extensive natural environment of the Kanei-ji Temple grounds. The present area of Ueno Park was originally a part of Kanei-ji Temple. The temple was originally built in 1625 as a prayer hall to protect the ki mon (Devil's Gate) of Edo Castle, and later became a temple of the Tokugawa family. However, during the Battle of Ueno in 1868, almost all of the temple buildings were destroyed by fire. Later, the temple grounds were opened to the public for viewing cherry blossoms, and the temple was registered as a public park in 1873. A spectacular opening ceremony was held on May 9, 1876, in the presence of the Meiji Emperor.
The Meiji Restoration in 1868 conducted the industrial revolution in Japan. In 1887, the first National Industrial Exhibition was held at Ueno Park. The 84,000 products representing the latest technology of the time were collected and exhibited. The Meiji era was known as the "Age of Civilization and Enlightenment." Japan burrowed and assimilated cultural and artistic elements all over the world. The Museum of Education was opened in 1877 in Ueno Park, followed by a variety of museums. With the establishment of the Imperial Library in 1906, Ueno Park became a center of modernization and cultural facilities.
Landmarks in Ueno Park
Except for viewing cherry blossoms and visiting museums, there are also places of human heritage. Though most of Kan'ei-ji Temple was destroyed in the war, some relics survived, such as the five-storied pagoda, the massive main gate, Kiyomizu Kannon Hall, and Ueno Toshogu Shrine. They are designated Important Cultural Properties of Japan.
Ueno Park is one of only two spots in Tokyo that's home to Pokéfuta, manhole covers decorated with drawings of Pokémon characters. In front of the National Museum of Nature and Science, you can find Wynaut and Tyrunt, while in front of the Tokyo National Museum you'll find Baltoy and Bronzor.