I’m big in Japan: Ueno Park (2005 May 10)

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Our agenda for the day was a walking tour of Ueno Park and the surrounding area suggested by our National Geographic guide. It would take a better part of the day, so we had another hearty (and expensive) breakfast at Jurin (5082¥). We hopped the train (380¥) and soon found ourselves walking out of Ueno Station and right into a horde of school children. There were innumerable groups about, and we would find out later in the trip that May is essentially a month of field trips. Students are taken to various historical and cultural sites around Japan to learn their history. Ueno Park is an ideal place for this as the sprawling park encompasses a zoo, a few museums, and a few temples.

We toyed with the notion of hitting the Tokyo National Museum but decided the weather was too good to spend inside rather than outside exploring the area. As we walked around the museum area, some of the students would say hello in English and wave. We would politely smile and say hello back; I’m sure we were quite the novelty that day, an unexpected sight on their own tour. Past the museum section, the foot traffic thinned out, and we were able to take a leisurely stroll around the rest of the park.

The walking tour took us by a number of famous statues and monuments, some with English signs and some without. Past all these pieces of history was a series of temples and some ponds. People were walking, reading, sleeping… just enjoying the sunshine, scenery and tranquility of the park. One portion had a mini flea market setup with people selling a variety of wares. Our tour of the park lasted ninety minutes, and we were off to the next major stop, Nezu Jinja.

Saigo Takamori