Ueno Park, best known for its popularity as a cherry viewing spot, is in a way the cultural heart of Tokyo – nowhere else can rival the sheer number of museums.
Ueno’s gems are the Tokyo National Museum, the National Science Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the tiny but fascinating Shitamachi Museum.
There’s also plenty of park – as well as shrines and temples – to see. However, we recommend bypassing the zoo, which is not as good as more modern establishments.
Shitamachi (lit. the ‘low city’) refers to the lower-lying parts of Tokyo, historically more densely populated and less affluent. Today’s Asakusa and Ueno still have a distinct, nostalgic shitamachi atmosphere, which you will see for yourselves.
You do not need to walk far from the park to reach areas with a bustling, comparatively less-polished feel such as the busy Ameyoko market street, which started out as a post-war black market hub.