A Sensational Spring Day in TokyoApril 18, 2018
You’ve ticked off all the flower festivals and want to explore more of Tokyo in all of its seasonal glory? Hotfoot it to Ueno which offers a charming combination of culture, history and seasonal blooms.
Admittedly, Ueno is a bit of a hike, but it’s well worth the schlep to Tokyo National Museum, which is home to Japan's most coveted artworks. The annual spring exhibition is nothing short of spectacular; this year’s showcase, Echoes of a Masterpiece: The Lineage of Beauty in Japanese Art brings together priceless and historic artworks – many considered national treasures – which represent different facets of beauty. Runs until 27 May.
Culture box ticked, it’s time to make the most of Tokyo’s glorious spring temps. After elbowing your way through the crowds snapping the last of the blossoms in nearby Ueno Park, beeline to the quaint neighbourhood Yanaka, for a leisurely afternoon jaunt.
The charming, old-world atmos of this low-rise pocket is still very much intact, and its winding lanes and wooden houses can be easily explored on foot, or better yet, by two-wheeler courtesy of Tokyo Bike. Begin by cycling past Yanaka Ginza, one of the area’s prime shopping streets which is lined with stalls selling a variety of local goodies, including crafts, produce and sweets.
From here, options abound. For a spot of peaceful respite, Yanaka Cemetery, where you'll find even more blossoms – as well as the tomb of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last shogun of the Edo Period – is well worth a gander for its tranquil ambience and wide pathways, as is nearby Tennoji Temple which is host to a big bronze Buddha.
For another culture hit, it’s also worth checking out groundbreaking gallery Scai the Bathhouse, housed in a 200-year-old former… you guessed it. Host to avant-garde works by homegrown and international talents including Tatsuo Miyajima and Lee Bul, it’s worth visiting for the historic charm of the building alone. Afterwards, the Yanaka Beer Hall is across the street for a crafty draft ale to round out the day.
National Museum / 13-9 Uenokoen / Taito-ku / +81 3 3822 1111 / 9.30am-5pm Mon-Thu, until 9pm Fri-Sat / tnm.jp
Ueno Park / 5-20 Uenokoen / Taito-ku / +81 3 3828 5644 / 5am-11pm daily
Tokyo Bike / 4-2-39 Yanaka / Taito-ku / +81 3 5809 0980 / 11am-6pm Fri-Tue / tokyobike.com
Yanaka Cemetery / 7 Chome-5-24 Yanaka / Taito-ku / +81 3 3821 4456 / 8.30am-5.15pm daily
Tennoji Temple / 7 Chome-14-8 Yanaka / +81 3 3821 4474
Scai the Bathhouse / 6 Chome-1-23 Yanaka / Taito-ku / +81 3 3821 1144 / 12-6pm Tue-Sat / scaithebathhouse.comYanaka Beer Hall / 2 Chome-15-6 / Uenosakuragi, Taito-ku / +81 3 5834 2381 / noon-8.3pm Tue-Fri, from 11am Sat-Sun