Translated by MATCHA_En
Ueno's Shinobazu Pond: A Relaxing Urban Oasis
Written by Mako Hayashi
Tokyo's urban oasis, Shinobazu Pond, located inside Ueno Park, is the ideal place to go when you want to relax and enjoy natural beauty in the capital. This natural pond is known for its bright green lily pads and vibrant pink lotus flowers in July and August, and delicate sakura in the spring.
Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park - Head Out Early and See the Lotus Pond in Summer
Shinobazu Pond is a large natural pond located in Ueno Park, and is one of the many charming green oases in Tokyo.
The surface of the pond is blanketed in lush greenery during the summer, so thick in places that you cannot even see the water itself. This is a lotus pond. The lotus flower is associated with purity and beauty in Buddhist and Hindu cultures, respectively. It gives the flower a sort of exotic and majestic mystique.
Lotus flowers reach their blossoming peak in July through August, but only open up from around 7:00 to 9:00. This means that all the flowers close themselves come noon. So if you would like to see them for yourself, you will definitely need to wake up early, but the view is well worth the effort!
Shinobazu Pond Has Three Sections
The lotus pond is not the only sight to see at Shinobazu Pond. The natural pond covers an area of roughly 110,000 square meters and can be divided into three major sections. The first section consists of the lotus pond, the second section is the duck pond, which provides a habitat for ducks and other waterfowl, and the third constitutes a boat pond where visitors can enjoy paddling small boats.
Right around the center of the pond, you will find an islet on which rests a Buddhisttemple called the Bentendo.
Around the temple, you can find hochozuka (for knives) or megane-no-hi (for glasses), among other unique monuments, where people symbolically bury personal belongings. These monuments are characteristic of Shinobazu Pond, and even if you can't read what they say, try asking one of the locals nearby to see what other interesting monuments there are. A few of the monuments do have explanations carved into the stones in English.
Shinobazu Pond in the Spring - View the Cherry Blossoms!
If you can, visit during the cherry blossom season in late March or early April to enjoy a gorgeous view of hundreds of sakura framing the temple and the pond. This is another ideal time to take in the splendor of Shinobazu Pond.
The lotus flowers will not be blooming during this time, so you will be able to see the water covered in brown brush. The view is still beautiful, though, with the light pink flowers all around the pond. On a clear day, you can see Tokyo Skytree towering in the distance.
Paddle About in the Boating Area
Right on the border between the lotus and boat ponds, you can find the entrance to the boat rentals. So, if you're looking for some physical activity, why not give boat paddling a try? Being on the pond will provide you with a great view of the surroundings and the skyscrapers in the distance.
There are three kinds of boats available. Choose the plan that best suits you.
1. Rowing boats
Capacity: Up to 3 adults
Rental Fee: 700 yen/hour (300 yen for each additional 30 minutes)
2. Cycling boats
Capacity: Up to 2 adults and 1 child
Rental Fee: 600 yen/half-hour (600 yen for each additional 30 minutes)
3. Swan boats
Capacity: Up to 2 adults and 2 children
Rental Fee: 700 yen/half-hour (700 yen for each additional 30 minutes)
Please note that the boats are available to rent from around 9:30 to 10:00 until 16:30 to 18:00, depending on the season; plan to go out on the pond during the day!
A Nature Paradise at Shinobazu Pond
Though the height of the lotus pond viewing season is in summer, Shinobazu Pond is replete with sights to see all four seasons throughout the year. Shinobazu Pond has served as the subject to a number of Japanese works of art and has enjoyed the attention of Japanese people for ages.
If you're looking to tour around Ueno, then don't miss out on visiting Shinobazu Pond. You can easily add it onto a stroll through Ueno Park while you leisurely explore the area.
Main image by Pixta