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15 Things To Do In Ueno Park, Tokyo

What are the best things to do in Ueno Park Tokyo, the city's most popular city park

Ueno Park

One of Tokyo's largest park and a popular hanami spot, Ueno Park is visited by over 10 million people each year. Ueno Park is located in the Ueno district and can be accessed by the Tokyo subway from pretty much anywhere in Tokyo.

There are myriad things to do in Ueno Park, from visiting museums to wandering around the zoo or chilling under the sakura trees. We have compiled a list of 15 Things To Do In Ueno Park so you can have the best time while you visit.

If you loved Ueno Park, check out our recommendations on the best things to do in Tokyo and find other fun things & attractions in the city.

15 Things To Do In Ueno Park, Tokyo - Contents

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What is Ueno Park

Ueno Park is the most popular park in Tokyo. The park was established in 1873, after much deliberation as various proposals were put forward to turn the site into a school or hospital. This was as a result of pressure put by doctors who insisted that a public park is necessary for people to find relaxation. Ueno Park was established following Western examples, one year after the foundation of the Yellowstone which is known to be the first national park.

The name Ueno Park comes from "Uneo Imperial Gift Park" or Ueno Onshi Kōen, the official name given by Emperor Taishō in 1924.

Getting to Ueno Park

Ueno Park is just next to JR Ueno Station. You can use your JR Pass to travel around the Yamanote Line. Alternatively, you can use the Tokyo Subway. Remember to get a Suica or Pasmo card so you can travel with ease.

Things to do in Ueno Park

Ueno Park is home to some of the most famous cherry trees, perfect for hanami festivals, as well as many Ginkgo biloba trees. Overall the park has over 8800 trees and some 20,000+ sqm of shrubs. You will find galleries, museums, temples, a pond and even a zoo here. There are many things to do in Ueno Park including indulging in the street food and relaxing during the sunset. At some of the park entrances, you will find steps with Japanese lanterns along the way to guide your journey.

Remember that some attractions are closed on a Monday. We recommend getting there early as Ueno park tends to get a little busy in the afternoon as many people come here to relax after work. Outside of Ueno Park there are stalls with street food and also many streets filled with traditional and international restaurants.

Japan Guide Ueno Park Tokyo

Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum houses a vast collection of cultural items and national treasures. It is Japan's oldest and largest museum and is comprised of five different buildings. Admission is 620 yen. We learned a lot about Japan and got the chance to see some great works and antiquities from other Asian countries. If you decide to spend time visiting the Tokyo National Museum, make sure you allocate a few hours. It is one of the most interesting museums we've ever visited and it's an absolute must if you are a history buff. Besides, it's incredibly interesting to learn more about Japanese culture.

Tokyo National Museum

Cherry Blossom Festival

Home to over 1000 cherry trees all in blossom, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo's best spots for hanami. The cherry blossom festival is usually from late March to early April and attracts tourists from all over the world. Expect crowds in Ueno during the cherry blossom season. Better yet, bring a blanket and take a break under a cherry blossom tree.

Note that the cherry blossom festival can get pretty busy and intense. Some employers require their trainees or new staff to sometimes go hunt for a great hanami spot and hold it for the whole day until the rest of the people finish work. If you want to enjoy the true hanami experience, you too might want to pack a lot of food and pick a spot first thing in the morning. The peak of hanami is at night, when people bring lanterns, food (even electrical cookers) and simply hang out together.

Ueno Park Cherry Blossom

National Museum of Western Art

Visiting the National Museum of Western Art is a great opportunity to check out Western art whilst in Japan. The exhibitions, however, focus mainly on European artists. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and the entrance is 420 yen.

The building itself is considered a World Heritage site as it has been designed by Le Corbusier. The National Museum of Western Art was established in 1959 and it is home to three important pieces of the Rodin sculpture collection. Outside you will see the Thinker and the Gates of Hell.

National Museum of Western Art Tokyo

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

The museum has six galleries and hosts no permanent art collection. Expect to pay for some exhibitions, whilst others have free admission.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum was established in Ueno Park in 1926. If you are interested in works of art note that the Museum Gallery is curated with special exhibitions and the rest of the five galleries are rented by groups for temporary exhibitions.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is supported by the prefectural government. The latest structure of the museum was completed in 1975 and designed by Kunio Maekawa.

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

National Museum of Nature and Science

If you are passionate about science or natural histories then I strongly recommend visiting the National Museum of Nature and Science. Here, you will find a crazy good collection of mounted animals and a lot of hands-on experiments. It's really captivating and interactive. The admission fee is 620 yen.

The National Museum of Nature and Science located in Ueno makes for one of the five main facilities that make up the whole museum. First opened in 1871, the ccurrent structure represents a reconstruction completed in 1930 after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. There was a subsequent renovation of the museum in the 90s and 2000s.

The museum focuses on the evolution of life on our planet and expect a comprehensive display to cater to science minds. It's ideal for kids who want to learn more about nature and science.

National Science Museum Tokyo

Ueno Kaneiji Temple

Once one of the wealthiest temples in Tokyo, Kaneiji Temple was destroyed during the Boshin War. Nowadays fairly unremarkable, Kaneiji is worth checking out simply due to its great historical value.

The Ueno Kaneiji Temple was so impressive it used to occupy the entire heights north and east of Shinobazu Pond, as well as parts of the Ueno Station. In fact, almost unbelievably so, the temple consisted of over 30 buildings. Of the 15 Tokugawa shōguns, six are buried here.

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15 Things To Do In Ueno Park, Tokyo

15 Things To Do In Ueno Park, Tokyo

15 Things To Do In Ueno Park, Tokyo

Ueno Shinobazu Pond

We loved sunbathing right by the Shinobazu Pond. It's partly covered in lotus plants and home to a lot of huge Japanese carp. Note that in the summer, the Shinobazu Pond is almost entirely covered in lotus plants, making it a serene oasis in the city, as well as a perfect photographic spot.

The pond hosts several dozens of types of migratory and stationary birds, several species of fish as well as alligator snapping turtles. It is unclear if the alligator snapping turtles still exist as they've first been spotted sometimes in 2006, but the government-issued warnings.

Overall, we believe that if it's sunny and you need a rest, go to Ueno's Pond. If you're in the mood for some extra fun, why not rent a duck-shaped boat.

The pond is natural, although note that it has been modified several times and even drained in the past.

Duck Boat Ueno

Ueno Kiyomizu Kannon Temple

This was originally part of Kaneiji Temple. Its design was inspired by Kyoto's Kiyomizudera. The Ueno Kiyomizu Kannon Temple is very popular amongst women who wish to remain pregnant, due to its connection to Kosodate Kannon, the goddess of conception.

Kiyomizu Kannon-do was built in 1632 and located in Ueno Park. What is very special about this particular temple is its special platform overlooking a circle made from a pine tree. It's called the pine tree of the moon (tsuki no matsu). The original pine tree was sadly destroyed by a storm during the Edo period (1603-1868), the current tree dates from 2011.

Ueno Kiyomizu Kannon Temple

Ueno Zoo

This is Japan's oldest zoo and it's most sought after residents are the giant pandas, first brought here in 1972. In 2011, the Ueno Zoo received two new baby pandas. The admission fee is 600 yen and totally worth it if you ever want to see a cute panda or a super beautiful polar bear.

After some controversy, the Ueno zoo provides its animals with an environment similar to the natural habitat. The zoo is home to more than 3,000 individuals representing over 400 species.

Polar Bear Ueno Park

Ueno Toshogu Shrine

Ueno Toshogu Shrine is a survivor, one of the few Edo-era structures to have survived Tokyo's earthquakes and wars. It was initially part of the Kaneiji Temple until 1868.

First established in 1627 by Tōdō Takatora and renovated in 1651 by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the shrine remains mostly intact since that time. It is an outstanding example of Shinto architecture from the Edo Period. Visually, it is a beautiful jewel. During the cherry blossom festival, the pathway that leads to the shrine is lined with beautiful cherry trees.

Ueno Toshogu Shrine

Bentendo Temple

This great temple is located on an island in the Shinobazu Pond. Bentendo Temple is a dedication to Benten, the goddess of good fortune and knowledge. This octagonal temple becomes very popular during the cherry blossom season when its grounds are packed with yummy street food stalls.

A Bentendo Temple is mostly next to a source of water, hence its key position in the Ueno Park next to the Shinobazu Pond. This is because it is believed that the goddess was originally the personification of a river.

Bentendo Temple Tokyo

Shitamachi Museum

This is a brilliant opportunity to step back in time and experience what life was like in Tokyo during the Meiji and Showa periods. Admission is only 300 yen.

Shitamachi means Low City. Although not necessarily depicting the lives of the poor, it is primarily about Edo's lower classes including craftsmen, fishermen, merchants. If you want to experience a little of the old Shitamachi, you can Asakusa.

You will see many original artefacts here and it's is rather interesting to be able to see how old Tokyo looked liked.

Ueno Park Shitamachi Museum

University of Tokyo

Ever wondered how would it be like to attend a top-notch university such as the University of Tokyo? Japan's top university has its main campus right in Ueno Park. During term time, the west side of the park comes to life as it is swarming with energetic students.

While it is not open to visitors, it's always nice to see where the future generations form.

University Tokyo

Picnic

Especially great during the cherry blossom season, having a picnic in Ueno Park is a great way to enjoy a lazy afternoon. You can bring your bento box and chill right by the pond, or under a beautiful cherry tree. A beautiful way to make new memories.

Picnicking is a popular thing to do in Ueno Park and in Tokyo in general. The Japanese love getting back in touch with the surrounding nature and nothing is more exciting than picking up a blanket and relaxing under the cherry blossoms or the autumn leaves.

During the summer, many picnic while listening to live music or seeing spectacles outdoors. You will even find street performers who come to the park to sometimes practice.

Hanami Ueno Park

Eat Street Food

From all the places I've visited so far, Japan is by far the absolute best culinary experience. Full of amazing flavours, great aromas and incredible tastes, Japanese food has no match. Especially lively during the cherry blossom festival, Ueno Park features many food stalls, awaiting for you to taste its delicacies.

Around Ueno Park you will find a huge connection of street stalls selling great street food. You will also find amazing restaurants selling local and international food. Ueno Park is a great place to immerse yourself in culinary Tokyo.

Street Food Japan

Octopus Balls Ueno Tokyo

Having spent two days exploring Ueno, I can safely say this is one of Tokyo greatest green places to visit. Check out Ueno Park, full of museums, temples and beautiful nature, as well as the actual colourful and vivid streets of Ueno, a neighbourhood full of street food, markets and mad nightlife.

Are you ready for all the fun things to do in Ueno Park? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Where to stay in Ueno Park

There are many incredible places to stay in Tokyo and Ueno Park is one of them. Although a little further away from other attractions, Ueno Park is a great area for accommodation as it is on the subway and train line. It's also a quiet and relaxing area and sometimes you can find more affordable accommodation if you wish to do Tokyo on a budget.

Hotel Sardonyx UenoCheck Palace Hotel Tokyo on Booking.com

Palace Hotel Tokyo

Situated right in the heart of Marunouchi business district, Palace Hotel Tokyo is 5-star luxury accommodation boasting 7 restaurants, a spa and a free-access fitness centre and indoor swimming pool. It is directly connected to Otemachi Subway Station and an 8-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station. Free WiFi is provided in the entire area.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

MIMARU Tokyo Ueno Inaricho

Located 2.8 km from Sensoji Temple and 3.2 km from Edo Tokyo Museum, MIMARU Tokyo Ueno Inaricho offers free WiFi and units fitted with a kitchen. The accommodation has a hot tub.

All units include a private bathroom and have air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and a microwave. A fridge and kettle are also provided.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

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