Today, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom across the island of Japan. Millions of trees have the spotlight on them for the 1-2 weeks of absolute scenic beauty. It’s truly a site to see, especially if you’re down near the Meguro River in Tokyo. There are other popular spots to see the famed trees in the big city and Ueno Park is probably at the top of that list…if you can find a sitting spot during the last of March and beginning of April. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Ueno Park.
How I first came across this moment? My debut in Ueno Park coincided with my going to the 2008 Tokyo Motorcycle Show in Odaiba. On my way back from the manmade island, I stopped through Ueno because I wanted to get a burger from the Hard Rock Café in the neighborhood. As I walked through Ueno Park, I saw all of the hoopla about the trees but I also saw some interesting museums. I returned to Ueno 3 weeks later, after all of the cherry blossom craze died down, and I made a day of it. In addition to the Ueno Zoo, where I got to see Ling Ling before his passing a couple of weeks later, I visited several museums to include the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, the National Museum of Western Art, and the Shitamachi Museum. I also visited Shinobazu Pond, where I saw a grey heron for the first time in my life flying over the water lilies. The prize of the day in Ueno Park was coming across Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker on the grounds of the National Museum of Western Art.
What it meant to me then? As a museum freak and a lover of history, Ueno Park shot up the list of my favorite places after that first visit. In fact, only Tokyo Midtown and Odaiba rated higher as far as my favorite places in Tokyo. I always had an internal squeal whenever I was in and around Ueno Park because so much of the history and so much of the roots of Japan was right there.
What it means to me now? Today, I still feel the same way about Ueno Park. It’s still a Top 3 spot in Tokyo. On my next visit, I’m definitely reconnecting.