Ueno Park in Taito ward, Tokyo, is a place for everyone, from the single stroller to the whole distracted family - with lovers and romance in between.
Ueno Park is one of Tokyo's cultural and scenic highlights. The surrounding Ueno area (at least on the Ueno Station side of Ueno Park) is an unsophisticated shitamachi (downtown) area of Tokyo; so the museums, art galleries and performance spaces - not to mention the zoo - of Ueno Park make for something of a cultural contrast with the rest of the neighborhood.
Ueno Park is a beautiful, sprawling park that is particularly beautiful in spring with its masses of cherry blossom and plum blossom. I was in Ueno Park on the weekend, mainly to see the Japanese Masterpieces from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibition at the Heiseikan Special Exhibition Galleries of Tokyo National Museum (see what's on now Tokyo museums and art galleries).
After seeing the exhibition, we walked over to the new Starbucks in Ueno Park, which opened just last week, on April 18th. The Ueno Park Starbucks is a clean, modern design occupying one side of the grand vista in front of the Tokyo National Museum. Serendipitously, an amorous couple in front of Starbucks kissed the moment I snapped a photo of the new Starbucks building.
Nearby was an acrobat wowing the small crowd gathered round to watch his feats of balance and agility. Not far from him was a children's entertainer keeping another, somewhat younger, crowd enthralled with his patter and his toys.
One sight that always enthralls, no matter how often you visit Ueno Park is the massive statue of a blue whale - an even more unforgettable sight flanked with the last of this year's cherry blossom.
The cherry blossom is almost over, but the blossom stalks remain on the branches, giving them a vague, dark pink fuzz that forms an aftertaste of the full sakura spectacular of the last two weeks. However, luxuriant bunches of white and candy pink plum blossoms are enjoying center stage at the moment. Particularly enchanting are those plum trees that sport both colors: white and pink, on the same tree.
Behind Ueno Park is the enchanting, old Uguisudani area, with its sedate, tree-lined neighborhoods where the whispers of old Tokyo can still be clearly heard.