Ueno Park is a large public park next to Ueno Station. From Ikebukuro, we took the JR Yamanote Line and alight direct at Ueno Station. The park is just probably 5 minutes walk to the right of the station. You will pass by a mall with some restaurants at street level, and then climb up a long flight of stairs to reach Ueno Park.
Oh and you will see Ameyoko-cho on the way to Ueno Park. I did not have time for Ameyoko-cho because we exit from the other end of Ueno Park to get to a shrine for plum blossom viewing. I enjoyed a slow and relaxing walk, enjoying the sun, the fresh and cooling air while in the park. 🙂
The park grounds were originally part of Kaneiji Temple which used to be one of the city’s largest and wealthiest temples and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. Kaneiji stood in the northeast of the capital to protect the city from evil, much like Enryakuji Temple in Kyoto.
During the Boshin Civil War, which followed the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Kaneiji suffered nearly complete destruction in a battle between the victorious forces of the new Meiji government and loyalists of the overthrown shogunate. After the battle, the temple grounds were converted into one of Japan’s first Western style parks and opened to the public in 1873.
Walking in through the entrance of Ueno Park, the first attraction will be Kiyomizu Kannon-do. It was originally built in 1631 as part of Kaneiji Temple. It’s design, including a wooden balcony extending from the hillside, was inspired by Kiyomizudera in Kyoto. The temple is home to an image of Kosodate Kannon, the goddess of conception, and is particularly popular among women hoping to have children.
We met a rude Japanese old lady who shoo us away when we want to enter the temple, and so I thought the temple is open to public?! Oh well, I guess she’s just weird. The first time I encounter a rude Japanese. Heh.