Tokyo: Ueno Park ideal spot to enjoy cherry blossoms and more
April 19, 2009
Ueno Park has little difficulty attracting thousands of visitors to its grounds every day, and it doesn’t have to be cherry blossom season. Although it doesn’t hurt.
Tokyo’s largest park is one of the most famous spots in Japan for viewing the beautiful pink flowers that bloom in late March, early April. My wife heard about Ueno from a friend, and the two of us brought along our 1-year-old son to check it out.
As luck would have it, we ended up going on a Monday which, besides sparing me from being in the office on a weekday, turned out to be the nicest weather day of the year. Though crowded — I’m guessing others were playing hooky as well — we had no trouble maneuvering and pushing the stroller along freely. And like most of the other people, we couldn’t walk more than a few steps before getting the urge to stop and take fresh photos of ourselves and the more than 1,200 cherry trees.
The more we walked, the more hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) we saw. People were spread out on blankets beneath the trees eating and drinking. Lots of drinking. Whether they wore business suits or casual attire, everyone looked to be in their element.
Similar scenes are carried out every year during the short time cherry blossoms are in bloom across Japanese parks, and Ueno is considered by many to be one of the best of the bunch.
The vast park, which first opened in 1873, has been a prime location for tourists and locals for the beauty of its springtime cherry blossoms and its lotuses in summer. But it also features plenty of other attractions that we couldn’t get to in one visit. One is the 34-acre Ueno Zoo that is home to roughly 2,600 animals.
The park also sports some indoor charms, namely its many art, history and science museums. One, the Tokyo National Museum, is Japan’s oldest and boasts the largest collection of Japanese art in the world.
Many beautiful temples and shrines also are scattered throughout the park.
During this time of the year, however, it’s about the cherry blossoms first and foremost. And they are spectacular.
But don’t let the season dictate your visit. Ueno Park is always a good idea.
For more information on Ueno Park, visit www.japanvisitor.com.