Exploring Japan: Ueno Zoo’s Thai and Japanese architecture – March 21, 2010

Last year, I visited Ueno Zoo for the second time.  Most people know Ueno Zoo for its pandas, but how many people know about its Thai and historic Japanese architecture?  A relatively new addition to the zoo, the Thai Pavilion may seem out of place.

The Thai Pavilion in Ueno Zoo

But there’s a much more impressive structure nearby.  If you’ve visited the zoo, you may remember a 5 storey pagoda.  This pagoda is part of Kan’eiji Temple.  This temple was established in 1625, and at its height, occupied the entire area in the heights, as well as where Ueno Station is now.  It was huge.  There are several structures in Ueno Park that were part of the Kan’eiji complex, but most were destroyed.  In 1657, the Mereiki fire destroyed most of the complex, but then many new structures were built.  During the Battle of Ueno in 1868, most buildings were destroyed.  The temple’s main hall was actually transported from Kawagoe’s Kita-in Temple.  Some parts of the original temple that remain include the Toshogu Shrine and the 5 storey pagoda.  For more information, please read the Wikipedia page.

Kan'eiji's 5 storey pagoda is in Ueno Zoo. This is an original structure that survived the Battle of Ueno in 1868.

Here's a closer look at the pagoda. Most of Kan'eiji Temple was destroyed during the battle. Thankfully, the pagoda, which was built in the 17th century, still stands.

For a map of the area, please see below.  The pagoda is at the centre of the map.

Want to see more Japan?  See “Show Me Japan!”

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18 Comments

Filed under 23 Wards, Japan, Taito-ku, Tokyo

18 responses to “Exploring Japan: Ueno Zoo’s Thai and Japanese architecture – March 21, 2010

  1. I love Ueno. I used to live/work there, but I have learned so much about it after I moved away. Sad.

    • I also love Ueno. It was the first place I visited in Tokyo when I came to Japan. It has good memories for me. I’m trying to learn about the places I visit now.

  2. I love Ueno too. 🙂

    I always find time to wander around the park when I visit Japan each year. 🙂

    Gotta go check out that Thai Pavillion someday. ^^

  3. Great post! My first apartment in Japan was in Uguisudani, just on the north side of the park, so Ueno will always hold a special place in my heart ❤

  4. Interesting observation.
    As you may know, the Ueno zoo is the oldest zoo in Japan.
    So there are also many old architecture as you write.
    For example I like some old Museums in Ueno park.
    One of them was planned by Le Corbusier.

  5. They got one of those 5 roofers near where I’m at. All wood construction (no iron nails just wood dowels and stuff). Very gorgeous.

  6. We went to the park last August when we were in Tokyo for a day, I wanted to take a closer look at the pagoda, but didn’t want to spend the money for the zoo entry fee. Such a cheapskate…

    • You cheapskate. You can’t get close to the pagoda, unfortunately. There’s a path around it, so you can see it from all sides, but you can’t actually go right up to it.

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