Discover One of Tokyo’s Largest Parks: Ueno Park

Toshogu Shrine, Ueno Park Nature

When you have limited time to spend in Tokyo, but want to see a wide variety of things, Ueno Park is a great option. Ueno Park is the largest public park, located in the north east part of central Tokyo. The park grounds have a rich history; the grounds used to be part of the Kaneiji Temple (Tokyo’s largest and wealthiest temples) and during the Boshin War, there were battles fought on the grounds.

After the war, the park was opened to the public and has since been a very popular place to go for both locals and tourist. Several museums are located within the park, as well as several shrines and temples. It’s also the home of the famous Ueno Zoo! In addition, the park houses over 1,000 sakura trees, making it a popular spot for hanami (flower viewing). We have developed a route for you that leads you along some of the most interesting and beautiful spots in the park. Let’s check out the main places to visit!

If you are interested in learning more about the locations or Japanese culture and history, we recommend you discover the area with a guide. We are happy to customize a tour for you, showing you the best sights and sounds! Read more about our private tours!

1. The statue of Saigo Takamori

Saigo Takamori Ueno

When you enter the park from the south and make your way up to the two stairs, you will see a very prominent statue on your right hand side. This is the statue of the famous Saigo Takamori, one of the most influential samurai in all of Japan. Takamori was one of the commanders leading the Meiji Restoration in 1868. After a growing discontent with the government, he once more led an army of former samurai in his final battle. Perhaps this story sounds familiar? He was the inspiration of the filmmakers of The Last Samurai!

2. Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple

When you continue your way straight, passing the tomb of the Shogitai Warriors (behind the statue of Saigo) on your right, you will soon see the Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple on your left hand hand side. This temple is one of the most visited temples for women who wish to conceive children, as they leave a doll here for the 1000-armed goddess Senju Kannon. Or when their wish is fulfilled, women come back to pray for good health and protection.

Many say that Kannon-do Temple resembles the Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto! What do you think?

When you stand on the wooden observation deck and look to the right, you will see Tsuki no Matsu, which translates as “pine tree of the moon”. Look right through it and you will have a great view of Bentendo Temple. This temple was built in the middle of the Shinobazu Pond and enshrines the goddess Benzaiten, who is the only female member of Japan’s seven lucky gods and the goddess of all things that flow such as luck, wisdom and wealth.

3. Hanazono Inari Shrine

Torii Hanazono Inari Shrine Ueno

You probably know the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, with its famous vermillion tori gates. But did you know, there is also a smaller version of it located in Tokyo? When you make your way down from Kannondo Temple and turn to the right, you will soon see some iconic red torii gates on your left. These belong to the Hanazono Inari Shrine, one of the estimated 30,000 shrines dedicated to the rice kami Inari. The tori gates, that symbolize the path from earth to heaven, were donated by businesses to the shrine. This shrine is also associated with good relationships, both business and private.

4. Sakura-dari street

If you find yourself in Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April, you are in luck! For two weeks, the 1,000 sakura trees will be in full blossom, showing its beautiful colors. There are various kinds of Sakura in Ueno Park, ranging from the early blooming Oh-kanzakura and Kanhizakura to the Shidarezakura and SomeiyoshinoSakura. Ueno Park is one of the most popular places to go for hanami flower viewing, with Sakura-dori street as it highlight.

Make your way to Ueno Park early during Sakura season, get a coffee from Starbucks and watch the thousands of people pass by.

5. Bells of Time

Since the Edo Period, people were informed of the time by the bells of time or Toki no Kane. The bell timing system ensured that every day, at exactly 6am, noon and a final time at 6pm, the bell is sounding. Present day, the bell still rings, so if you find yourself in Ueno Park at these times, see if you hear the bell chime.

6. Toshogu Shrine

Toshogu Shrine Ueno
Photo by Joe Mabel

Toshogu Shrine is a shinto shrine that was built and dedicated in 1627 to the memory of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo-Shogunate. What makes this shrine very special is the fact that its still in it’s original form. It has survived many earthquakes, fire-bombings, and even the Ueno War that took place around it. Perhaps the reason for its survival was the fact that it was built on a hill, or maybe because of its sturdy construction.

You will be greeted with a facade of gold as you walk towards the shrine alongside the beautiful creatures that are carved, representing power and resurrection. On both sides of the road you will see many lanterns, a gift from the daimyo when they were employed by the shogun.

7. Ueno Zoo

Opened in 1882, Ueno Zoo is Japan’s oldest zoo and home to some 2,600 animals, including the panda Xiang Xiang, who became instantly famous after being born in 2017. For only ¥600 you can enter the zoo and meet the cute giant panda!

8. Museums of Ueno Park

Ueno Park National Museum Tokyo

Ueno Park is famous for the many museums that are located on the park grounds. With an impressive variety, they cater to all tastes and are definitely worth a visit. For those who’d love to learn more about Japanese art and culture, Tokyo National Museum or TNM is an absolute must.

Tip: at the north exit of the park, you’ll find the art gallery Geidai Art Plaza. Here you can buy artsy souvenirs and quietly enjoy a cup coffee on the terrace.

These are just some of the many great options Ueno Park has to offer. Ueno park is a great place to visit and has a lot to see all within walking distance of each other. It features many different interesting locations and you can discover several aspects of the Japanese culture and history.

To make most out of your visit, we recommend you explore the city with a guide. Have a look at our tours:
Tokyo 4 hour HIGHLIGHTS Private Walking Tour
Total Tokyo Experience

Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tokyo

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are traveling in, our knowledgeable and friendly guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo, where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English-speaking guide! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo’s Nightlife in Izakaya
Check out the best spots in Shinjuku while bar hopping through the lively and vibrant area. Try some delicious local food and drink as you explore the narrow yet photogenic alleys that the town has to offer. Experience Japanese izakaya culture and drink in Shinjuku like the locals!

Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and TikTok for more travel inspiration. Or tag us to get featured!

Happy traveling!

Copied title and URL