Ueno park is a charming park with its own unique history and flair. Especially after nightfall, you can take a relaxing stroll over here, as the park, in contrast to Shinjuku Gyoen for example, has neither admission frees nor closing hours.
The park is one of the top spots to visit during cherry blossom season (sakura), which will turn Toko´s parks into an almost magical wonderland around the end of March to beginning of April each year.
Furthermore, it not only offers the oldest zoo in Japan (est. 1892) but also museums (see below), a concert hall, four temples and shrines to visit: Kane-ji, Kiyomizu Kannon-do, Tosho-gu and Benten-do. That´s a remarkable set of sightseeing spots in one place. There are also several festivals being held in corners of the park throughout the year, and you´ll find several cafés in the park, too.
The Tokyo National Museum (website link )
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (website link)
The National Museum of Nature and Sciences (website link)
The Bunka Kaikan Concert Hall (website link)
The Ueno Zoo (website link)
You can access Ueno Park any time of the day. And yes, it´s safe, even at night, you don´t have to worry about safety. There´s a police box (koban) in the park, and a policeman will carry out regular spot checks.
What may look like snowflakes are indeed falling cherry blossom petals, covering the pathways of Ueno park, turning it into an almost unearthly, enchanting scene you may have seen before in several Japanese movies or paintings.
Colleagues and friends will be sent to the park in the early mornings already to reserve a space for the popular “hanami,” the celebration of the cherry blossom season, in order to gather after work to have dinner, snacks and some drinks together on the blue plastic tarps until late night.
The park itself may not look as fancy and perfect as Shinjuku Gyoen for example, but yet I personally like it very much. It´s a great location. You may want to check Ameyoko shopping arcade which is near Ueno Station exit, or settle down to have a coffee or tea (there´s also a Starbucks in the park if you prefer that one) and enjoy this green heart surrounded by a concrete megalopolis. If you´d like to mingle with Pokémon Go players, you´ll find them near the lake on the other side of the street.
If you pay the park a visit on one of those hot and humid summer nights, you may see bats flying around, but those are not interested in you or your blood, so don´t worry.
What astronomers call “light pollution” prevents the nightly Tokyo sky from being completely dark. All the neon city lights will make it look whitish even, which is a nice effect and background on cloudy nights.
When walking out of Ueno Station (–> take one of the “Ueno Park” exits), it´s literally just a few steps away from the park. Depending on which exit you take, you´ll notice a statue at the park entrance welcoming you.
That´s because Ueno park is on historic grounds. In the year 1868, a huge battle was fought here, lead by Takamori Saigo, one of Japan´s most influential Samurai. The Tokugawa clan suffered a disastrous defeat, paving the path for Japan to become a modern nation.
You´ll notice small wooden boards in front or around Japanese temples. Those are called “ema,” you can also buy one if you like, it costs around 100 to 300 Yen only, and write your wishes on it, which are said to hopefully become true if being put there.