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Ueno Park

ueno park, ueno park cherry blossom
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 park2


  • 1 History
  • 2 Natural features
  • 3 Cultural facilities
  • 4 Other points of note
    • 41 Homeless
  • 5 Cultural facilities, monuments, and attractions
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 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 Castle3 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 Japan2456

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 park7 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"89 This was the year after the foundation of Yellowstone, the world's first national park10

Later that year Ueno Park was established, alongside Shiba, Asakusa, Asukayama, and Fukugawa Parks711 It was administered first by the Home Ministry's 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"8

Natural featuresedit

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 shrubs1 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 recorded12

The central island houses a shrine to Benzaiten, goddess of fortune, modelled on Chikubu Island in Lake Biwa13 The area was once full of "rendezvous teahouses", equivalent of the modern love hotel13 After the 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 carpark14 The lotus pond was restored in 1949, although much of it was again accidentally drained in 1968 during work on a new subway line14

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 hundred11 Inspired, Matsuo Bashō wrote "cloud of blossoms - is the temple bell from Ueno or Asakusa"15

Cultural facilitiesedit

Seiyōken was founded in 1872, one of the first western-style restaurants in Japan; the first coffee house followed nearby in 18881617

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 Europe18 The Tokyo National Museum was founded in 1872 after the first exhibition by the Museum Department of the new Ministry of Education19 In the same year the Ministry of Education Museum opened, now the National Museum of Nature and Science20

The National 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 Francisco2122 The building is by Le Corbusier who used it to express his concept of the Museum of Unlimited Growth, based on an expanding spiral23 It has been nominated for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List24

Other museums include the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, dating back to 1926, and Shitamachi Museum of 1980, which is dedicated to the culture of the "Low City"2526 The park was also chosen as home for the Japan Academy 1879, Tokyo School of Fine Arts 1889, and Tokyo School of Music 18902 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 concerts2728 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 Edo29 The Imperial Library was established as the national library in 1872 and opened in Ueno Park in 1906; the National Diet Library opened in Chiyoda in 1948 and the building now houses the International Library of Children's Literature3031

Other points of noteedit

Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined at Ueno Tōshō-gū, dating to 165132 Gojōten Jinja is dedicated to scholar Sugawara no Michizane, while neighbouring Hanazono Inari Jinja has red-bibbed Inari fox statues in an atmospheric grotto3334 There is a Yayoi-period burial mound on a small hill near the park's centre11 For a decade until 1894 there was horse racing near Shinobazu Pond78 Nowadays there is a baseball field, named in honour of poet Masaoka Shiki, fan of the sport11 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 expositions78 Ueno Station opened nearby in 188335 After the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, notices of missing persons were attached to the statue of Saigō Takamori8 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 problem in Tokyo and other cities, and the presence of squatters is accepted as an inevitability36

Cultural facilities, monuments, and attractionsedit

See alsoedit

  • Parks and gardens in Tokyo
  • National Parks of Japan
  • World Heritage Sites in Japan
  • Meiji period


  1. ^ a b 上野恩賜公園 Ueno Park in Japanese Tokyo Metropolis Retrieved 4 March 2012 
  2. ^ a b c Havens, Thomas R H 2011 Parkscapes: Green Spaces in Modern Japan University of Hawaii Press pp 28ff ISBN 978-0-8248-3477-7 
  3. ^ Jinnai Hidenobu 1995 Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology University of California Press p 15 ISBN 0-520-07135-2 
  4. ^ "旧寛永寺五重塔" Former Kan'ei-ji five-storey pagoda Agency for Cultural Affairs Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  5. ^ "寛永寺清水堂" Kan'ei-ji Shimizudō Agency for Cultural Affairs Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  6. ^ "寛永寺旧本坊表門 黒門" Former Kan'ei-ji Omotemon Kuromon Agency for Cultural Affairs Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  7. ^ a b c d Seidensticker, Edward 2010 Tokyo from Edo to Showa 1867-1989: The Emergence of the World's Greatest City Tuttle Publishing pp 125ff ISBN 978-4-8053-1024-3 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Ueno Park" National Diet Library Retrieved 3 March 2012 
  9. ^ 公園緑地年表 Parks - Chronology in Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  10. ^ Sutherland, Mary; Britton, Dorothy 1995 National Parks of Japan Kodansha p 6 ISBN 4-7700-1971-8 
  11. ^ a b c d "Ueno Park" PDF Tokyo Metropolis Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  12. ^ "Japan - Introduction" PDF Ramsar Retrieved 4 March 2012 
  13. ^ a b Jinnai Hidenobu 1995 Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology University of California Press p 110 ISBN 0-520-07135-2 
  14. ^ a b Seidensticker, Edward 2010 Tokyo from Edo to Showa 1867-1989: The Emergence of the World's Greatest City Tuttle Publishing pp 466f ISBN 978-4-8053-1024-3 
  15. ^ Reichhold, Jane 2008 Basho: The Complete Haiku Kodansha p 94 ISBN 978-4-7700-3063-4 
  16. ^ Seidensticker, Edward 2010 Tokyo from Edo to Showa 1867-1989: The Emergence of the World's Greatest City Tuttle Publishing pp 58, 113 ISBN 978-4-8053-1024-3 
  17. ^ 歴史 History in Japanese Seiyōken Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  18. ^ Tseng, Alice Y The Imperial Museums of Meiji Japan: Architecture and the Art of the Nation University of Washington Press pp 18ff ISBN 978-0-2959-8777-4 
  19. ^ "History of the TNM" Tokyo National Museum Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  20. ^ "Profile and History of NMNS" National Museum of Nature and Science Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  21. ^ "Outline" National Museum of Western Art Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  22. ^ "Matsukata Collection" National Museum of Western Art Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  23. ^ Watanabe Hiroshi 2001 The Architecture of Tōkyō Edition Axel Menges p 124f ISBN 3-930698-93-5 
  24. ^ "Main Building of the National Museum of Western Art" UNESCO Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  25. ^ 東京都美術館について Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum - About in Japanese Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  26. ^ "Shitamachi Museum" Taitō Ward Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  27. ^ Finn, Dallas 1995 Meiji Revisited: the Sites of Victorian Japan Weatherhill pp 111ff ISBN 0-8348-0288-0 
  28. ^ "旧東京音楽学校奏楽堂" Former Tokyo School of Music Sōgakudō Agency for Cultural Affairs Retrieved 3 March 2012 
  29. ^ "Tokyo Bunka Kaikan - About" Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Retrieved 8 March 2012 
  30. ^ "History" National Diet Library Retrieved 9 March 2012 
  31. ^ "History" International Library of Children's Literature Retrieved 9 March 2012 
  32. ^ 上野東照宮 Ueno Tōshō-gū in Japanese Ueno Tōshō-gū Retrieved 9 March 2012 
  33. ^ "Gojōten Jinja" in Japanese Gojōten Jinja Retrieved 9 March 2012 
  34. ^ 花園稲荷神社 Hanazono Inari Jinja in Japanese Gojōten Jinja Retrieved 9 March 2012 
  35. ^ "1883年・JR上野駅開業" 1883 - Opening of Ueno Station in Japanese Nishinippon Shimbun Retrieved 9 March 2012 
  36. ^ 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 

External linksedit

  • Ueno Park - Pamphlet
  • in Japanese Ueno Park - Map
  • in Japanese Ueno Park - Official Site

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