« Gingko tree's bomb | Main | Bilingual Atlas of TOKYO »

Enjoying Winter Peonies at Ueno's Toshogu Shrine


Akemashite Omedetoo! Happy New Year!

2010 is the year of the tiger. If you're lucky enough to be in Japan over the New Years holiday, you can observe many traditions associated with getting the year off to a good start. During the first 3 days of January, most people enjoy eating "osechi ryori" or special New Years dishes with their (extended) family, and visit famous shrines to pray for prosperity and health in the new year. Stalls are set up to sell "omamori" or good luck charms for avoiding traffic accidents, illness and other calamities. At this biggest holiday of the year, many people dress up in kimono, although less common among young people.

In Tokyo, the streets are almost empty at the beginning of January because many Tokyoites escape the metropolis to visit relatives or fly overseas for a holiday -- so it's ideal for sightseeing by bicycle! As a bonus, the lack of smog means it's the best time to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji to the west from any high point in Tokyo.



One day trip I highly recommend is Ueno Park next to JR Ueno station - you can explore the National Museums and the Zoo any time of the year, but January is when you can enjoy "fuyu botan" or winter peonies in Peony Park (Botan-en) inside Ueno's Toshogu Shrine grounds. The many gorgeous blooms in red, pink and white are an unexpected and welcome sight on a cold or gloomy day in January. Each plant is protected from the chill by a straw canopy - which reminds me of the woven straw capes people used to wear long ago. You can walk among the peonies and winter cherry blossoms and then sit on a bench covered with festive red cloth and warm up with a drink of "ama-zake" or sweet sake. Toshogu shrine was built in 1627 and enshrines the spirit of the first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu.


Ueno Toshogu Shrine website in Japanese
When: January 1 to mid-February
Entrance fee: 600 yen
Hours: 9:30am to 4:30pm
Tea house with ama-zake (hot, sweet sake)
Location: Ueno Toshogu-shrine is located west of Ueno JR station near the zoo. Take the Park Exit (Koen-guchi). Map
Ueno Park information in English


TrackBack URL for this entry:


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 3, 2010 8:16 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Gingko tree's bomb.

The next post in this blog is Bilingual Atlas of TOKYO.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.31