Ueno Park (上野公園, Ueno Kōen) is a spacious public park in the
Ueno district of Taitō, Tokyo, Japan. The park was established in
1873 on lands formerly belonging to the temple of Kan'ei-ji. Amongst
the country's first public parks, it was founded following the western
example as part of the borrowing and assimilation of international
practices that characterizes the early Meiji period. The home of a
number of major museums,
Ueno Park is also celebrated in spring for
its cherry blossoms and hanami. In recent times the park and its
attractions have drawn over ten million visitors a year, making it
Japan's most popular city park.
2 Natural features
3 Cultural facilities
4 Other points of note
5 Cultural facilities, monuments, and attractions
6 See also
8 External links
Ueno Park occupies land once belonging to Kan'ei-ji, founded in 1625
in the "demon gate", the unlucky direction to the northeast of Edo
Castle. Most of the temple buildings were destroyed in the Battle
of Ueno in 1868 during the Boshin War, when the forces of the Tokugawa
shogunate were defeated by those aiming at the restoration of imperial
rule. In December of that year Ueno Hill became the property of the
city of Tokyo, other than for the surviving temple buildings which
include the five-storey pagoda of 1639, the Kiyomizu Kannondō (or
Shimizudō) of 1631, and approximately coeval main gate (all
designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan).
Various proposals were put forward for the use of the site as a
medical school or hospital, but Dutch doctor Bauduin urged instead
that the area be turned into a park. In January 1873 the Dajō-kan
issued a notice providing for the establishment of public parks,
noting that "in prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, there
are places of historic interest, scenic beauty, and recreation and
relaxation where people can visit and enjoy themselves, for example
Sensō-ji and Kan'ei-ji..." This was the year after the
foundation of Yellowstone, the world's first national park.
Later that year
Ueno Park was established, alongside Shiba, Asakusa,
Asukayama, and Fukugawa Parks. It was administered first by the
Museum Bureau, then by the Ministry of Agriculture and
Commerce, before passing to the Ministry of the Imperial Household. In
1924, in honour of the marriage of Hirohito,
Ueno Park was presented
to the city by Emperor Taishō, receiving the official name that lasts
to this day of Ueno Onshi Kōen (上野恩賜公園), lit. "Ueno
Imperial Gift Park".
The park has some 8,800 trees, including Ginkgo biloba, Cinnamomum
camphora, Zelkova serrata, Formosan cherry, Somei-Yoshino cherry, and
Japanese cherry. There is a further 24,800 m2 of shrubs.
Shinobazu Pond is a small lake with an area of 16 ha, extensive lotus
beds, and marshland. It provides an important wintering ground for
birds. Species commonly found include the tufted duck, Eurasian
wigeon, northern pintail, common pochard, little grebe, great egret,
and great cormorant. The Baer's pochard, ring-necked duck, and
American wigeon have also been recorded.
The central island houses a shrine to Benzaiten, goddess of fortune,
Chikubu Island in Lake Biwa. The area was once full of
"rendezvous teahouses", equivalent of the modern love hotel. After
Pacific War the pond was drained and used for the cultivation of
cereals and subsequently there were plans to turn the site into a
baseball stadium or multi-storey carpark. The lotus pond was
restored in 1949, although much of it was again accidentally drained
in 1968 during work on a new subway line.
In all there are some eight hundred cherry trees in the park, although
with the inclusion of those belonging to the
Ueno Tōshō-gū shrine,
temple buildings, and other neighbouring points the total reaches some
twelve hundred. Inspired,
Matsuo Bashō wrote "cloud of blossoms -
is the temple bell from Ueno or Asakusa".
Seiyōken was founded in 1872, one of the first western-style
restaurants in Japan; the first coffee house followed nearby in
Ueno Park is home to a number of museums. The very words in Japanese
for museum as well as for art were coined in the
Meiji period (from
1868) to capture Western concepts after the
Iwakura Mission and other
early visits to North America and Europe. The
Museum was founded in 1872 after the first exhibition by the Museum
Department of the new Ministry of Education. In the same year the
Ministry of Education
Museum opened, now the National
Museum of Nature
Museum of Western
Art was founded in 1959 based on the
collection of Matsukata Kōjirō, returned by the French government
after the Treaty of San Francisco. The building is by Le
Corbusier who used it to express his concept of the
Unlimited Growth, based on an expanding spiral. It has been
nominated for inscription on the
UNESCO World Heritage List.
Other museums include the
Art Museum, dating back
to 1926, and Shitamachi
Museum of 1980, which is dedicated to the
culture of the "Low City". The park was also chosen as home
Japan Academy (1879),
Tokyo School of Fine Arts (1889), and
Tokyo School of Music (1890). The first western-style concert hall
in the country, the Sōgakudō Concert Hall of 1890 (ICP) was donated
to the ward in 1983 and reconstructed on another site in the park,
where it is used for concerts. The
Tokyo Bunka Kaikan opened
in 1961 as a venue for opera and ballet, in celebration of the five
hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the city of Edo. The
Imperial Library was established as the national library in 1872 and
Ueno Park in 1906; the
National Diet Library
National Diet Library opened in
Chiyoda in 1948 and the building now houses the International Library
of Children's Literature.
Other points of note
Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined at Ueno Tōshō-gū, dating to 1651.
Gojōten Jinja is dedicated to scholar Sugawara no Michizane, while
neighbouring Hanazono Inari Jinja has red-bibbed Inari fox statues in
an atmospheric grotto. There is a Yayoi-period burial mound on
a small hill near the park's centre. For a decade until 1894 there
was horse racing near Shinobazu Pond. Nowadays there is a
baseball field, named in honour of poet Masaoka Shiki, fan of the
sport. As well as the first art museum in Japan, the park had the
first zoo, first tram, first May Day celebrations (in 1920), and
staged a number of industrial expositions.
Ueno Station opened
nearby in 1883. After the
Great Kantō earthquake
Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, notices
of missing persons were attached to the statue of Saigō Takamori.
Ueno Park and its surroundings figure prominently in Japanese fiction,
including The Wild Geese by Mori Ōgai.
Many homeless people squat in Ueno Park. Found among the park's
treelines and wooded areas, homeless camps border on the size of small
villages, with an internal structure, culture, and support system. The
long-term shelters are typically constructed of cardboard covered with
blue tarps. The police occasionally tear down the camps and drive out
or arrest the homeless, who return as soon as they can. While
squatting is illegal in Japan, homelessness is seen as an endemic
Tokyo and other cities, and the presence of squatters is
accepted as an inevitability.
Cultural facilities, monuments, and attractions
Tokyo National Museum
Museum of Western Art
Museum of Nature and Science
Tokyo Bunka Kaikan
Sōgakudō Concert Hall
International Library of Children's Literature
Tokyo University of the Arts
Ueno Royal Museum
Pagoda of Kan'ei-ji
Gojōten Jinja (Hanazono Inari Jinja)
Saigō Takamori walking his dog
Equestrian statue of Prince Komatsu Akihito
Statue of Hideyo Noguchi
Remains of the Ueno Daibutsu
Monument to the Shōgitai
Monument to Ulysses Grant
Kuroda Memorial Hall, National Research Institute for Cultural
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ueno Park.
Parks and gardens in Tokyo
National Parks of Japan
World Heritage Sites in Japan
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^ "旧東京音楽学校奏楽堂" [Former
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^ Margolis, Abby Rachel. "Samurai Beneath Blue Tarps: Doing
homelessness, rejecting marginality and preserving nation in Ueno Park
(Japan)". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
Ueno Park - Pamphlet
Ueno Park - Map
(in Japanese) Ueno Pa