Ueno: a district and a park with a thousand facets 上野
A must-see in Tokyo, stroll through Ueno
Walks in the fresh air or visiting museums: you can spend more than a day discovering the magnificent park and the popular Ueno district, which is home to one of the largest markets in the capital.
Discover Ueno and its history
The Ueno district is rich in history. In 1868, it was a place of resistance for the last samurai, some two thousand followers of the Tokugawa shogun, who were fighting against the imperial troops. History reveals the Tokugawa supporters were on the wrong side of history and the era of Emperor Meiji (1868 - 1912) dawned, a period known as the Meiji Restoration.
In 1883, the Ueno station opened the doors of the capital to northern Japan and for a long time remained the busiest station in the country. Stalls and restaurants multiplying, the district growing in population. It is from Ueno station that the people of the northern regions begin to arrive, mostly commoners seeking work. The movement of an exodus is strongly accentuated after the war, making Ueno a popular and commercial hub.
Along with the development, a cultural district appears. Around the station, workers and day laborers settled, while artists and intellectuals took up residence around Ueno Park. The Ueno district became the cultural center of the capital with the creation of museums and universities, including the prestigious Tokyo School of Fine Arts.
Ueno Park: the walk to do in Tokyo
Opened in 1873, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo's first public parks.
It is now world-famous for the cherry blossoms which attract thousands of visitors from all over the world each spring. Food and drink stand, cultural events, picnics with family, friends, or colleagues: the park is a place of celebration, sheltered by the pale pink petals of the famous Japanese cherry trees.
In summer, its famous Shinobazu pond is covered with pink and white lotuses while autumn sees the thousands of trees blushing or turning yellow.
The park is also very popular for its Ueno Zoo, the oldest in Japan and the only one in Japan that is home to pandas, the stars of the place!
The park is also home to important religious buildings:
The Tosho-gu shrine, dedicated to Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. This sanctuary has been classified as a national treasure.
Kiyomizu Kannon-dō, a temple built in 1631 that was inspired by Kyoto's famous Kiyomizudera. It is dedicated to Bodhisattva Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
The most beautiful museums in Tokyo
Ueno Park is not just a place for outdoor walks. It contains many historical monuments and great museums including the remarkable Tokyo National Museum, the oldest museum in Japan. It houses more than 111,000 works and objects from Japan and Asia.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, mainly houses collections of Japanese artists but also hosts temporary exhibitions of international works.
The National Museum of Western Art: in its concrete building designed by Le Corbusier, you can admire the works of the greatest Western artists, from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
The National Museum of Nature and Science is the largest museum of its kind in the Archipelago. It is divided into two galleries: one in Japan and one in the world. Space, ecology, biology, human history, technology, and dinosaurs are the topics covered in the gallery on the world.
Parties and festivals in Ueno
In addition to the various cultural events organized from time to time by the various museums, the district is particularly lively on the following dates:
Gojoten Jinja Reitaisai: Every year on May 25, the Gojoten Shrine Festival takes place in Ueno Park. Larger events are held every three years when a portable temple (omikoshi) is paraded through the streets by tengu, the long-nosed demons.
Ueno Natsu Matsuri: from mid-July to the beginning of August, a whole series of events animate Ueno during the Ueno Natsu Matsuri festival
Where to eat in Ueno? Best restaurants in Ueno
Hungry? Visit the large covered market Ameya Yokocho and the many restaurants around or let yourself be tempted by one of these restaurants:
Innsyoutei: a charming Japanese restaurant established in 1875 in Ueno Park. You can enjoy kaiseki cuisine while admiring the park.
Yamabe: a restaurant famous for its tonkatsu (breaded pork chop). Expect to wait in line.
And if you need a rest, try the ASAN café: in addition to their famous pancakes, you can have a Japanese curry or spaghetti, but above all, relax in one of the hammocks offered by the establishment!