Ueno Park is a large public park in the center of Tokyo. The park was originally part of the Kaneiji Temple, which in the Edo period was one of the largest and richest temples in the city and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan. Kaneiji stood in the northeast of the capital to protect the city from evil, much like the Enryakuji Temple in Kyoto. During the civil war of Boshin, the temple was almost completely destroyed. After the battle, the temple site was converted into one of Japan’s first Western-style parks and opened to the public in 1873.
At the southwest end of the park is the Shinobazu Pond, one of the many memories of the former size of the Kaneiji Temple. The pond represents the Biwako lake. On an island in the middle of the pond stands Bentendo, a temple hall dedicated to the goddess of Benten.
Today, Ueno Park is famous for its many museums, in particular, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum. Here is also the Ueno Zoo, Japan’s first zoological garden. In addition, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s most popular and vibrant cherry blossom spots with more than 1000 cherry trees on its central path.