Ueno(上野): Culture + Commerce

A girl walking under a striking series of gates in Ueno Park.
A map of my Day 1 walking tour.
I only went to Ueno(上野)once during my Tokyo trip, yet I wish I had made time to go again and more thoroughly explore the area. There's plenty to see in the district; most of the sites like the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ueno Zoo, and Shinobazu Pond are situated within Ueno Park(上野公園).

I spent most of my time at Ameyoko(アメ横), arguably the commercial center of Ueno, but I wish I had focused more on Ueno Park. However, by the time I reached Ueno, it was already late afternoon. Visiting Tokyo in late winter has its perks as it's not peak tourist season. Nevertheless, you have to accept the much shorter days. I think visiting the park in the morning would be a great compromise.

A map of Ueno Park.
Flowers at the entrance of the park.
The 133 acre Ueno Park is like a small village; I think one could spend an entire day there without getting bored between the many museums, temples, and generally, the nature. I'm not an outdoorsy girl, but I loved walking under the trees and taking in the gorgeous variety of flowers found in the gardens. The park is impeccably maintained as well. While I didn't have the opportunity to see even a fourth of it, the little I enjoyed was enticing enough to place the area on my "must-see" list for the next time I'm in Tokyo.

An interesting sculpture.
Of the four temples in Ueno Park, I visited Kiyomizu Kannondo(清水観音度)or Kiyomizu Kannon Temple. The northern area of the temple offers great views of the park and is a wonderful place to relax. Built in 1631, the it houses the Kosodate Kannon, who is the goddess of conception. It's no wonder I saw only women fervently praying there.

Kiyomizu Kannon Temple's rear.

The northern face of the temple.
The north of Kiyomizu Kannon Temple from afar.
The park view from the temple.
A brilliant decorative lamp.
Prayers left by temple visitors.

I'm a sucker for temples, so I'd highly recommend a visit to Kiyomizu Kannon Shrine. The other three temples and shrines in Ueno Park—Kaneiji Temple; Toshogu Shrine; and the Bentendo temple hall—look awesome in photos. Someday I'll see them and the rest of Ueno Park!

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