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Ueno Park offers not only beautiful nature, but also plenty of culture. Local residents and foreigners spend days visiting the temples, museums, performances, the zoo and other attractions. It is hardly surprising to find such rich culture here: this is the oldest public park in Tokyo.
The park is the former site of the large luxurious Kaneiji Temple. Unfortunately this temple was completely destroyed in the Boshin Civil War (1868-1869), during a power struggle between Japanese Emperor Meiji and the Tokugawa Shogun. Today, only the 5-story high pagoda and large salon remain. Victorious Emperor Meiji added the other attractions to the park. Other sanctuaries in the park include the Kiyomizu Kannon Temple and the Ueno Toshogu Shrine.
Ueno Park is especially popular during Hanami. This is the arrival of spring, when Japan transforms into a sea of pink flowering cherry blossoms, usually from the second half of March through the first half of May. Ueno Park offers a spectacular sight with its thousands of trees that form a bright, picturesque hedge. The Japanese take the opportunity to celebrate the nice weather and flock here to picnic underneath all of this beauty. Ueno Park is so popular that the Japanese spread their picnic blankets side by side.
The museums in the park are also worth a visit. Art lovers will enjoy the National Museum of Western Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum for contemporary art. The National Museum of Nature and Science features beautiful interactive displays and 2 floors of dinosaur exhibits. But the most attractive museum is the Tokyo National Museum. It consists of 5 large buildings packed with impressive artefacts such as Japanese art, ancient pottery, samurai swords and kimonos.
Ueno Zoo, the oldest zoo in Japan, takes up a large part of Ueno Park. The zoo boasts almost 500 animal species and features exhibits such as a gorilla forest and tiger forest. This is also where you find the pagoda of the Kaneiji Temple. Swan lovers will enjoy the boats in the picturesque Shinobazu Pond outside of the zoo. The crafts have been modelled after these elegant creatures and the boats among the lotus flowers make for quite a lovely sight.
Taito, Tokyo 110-8712