Ueno Park was designated as the first park in Japan in 1873, which used to be the spacious precincts of Kaneiji Temple (①) built in 1625 by the Tokugawa shogunate. It later served as a family temple and here is the Toshogu shrine (②) dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of Edo shogunate. The Park is celebrated in spring as one of the best sites for cherry-blossom viewing (③) and its origin dates back to the early Edo period.
There are still some sites retaining the Edo period. One is Benten-do Temple (④) in the middle of Shinobazu Pond where lotuses, the flowers in Buddhist paradise, are in full bloom in summer. Another is Kiyomizu Kannon-do where “Moon’s Pine” (⑤) depicted by the Ukiyoe painter in the Edo period was resurrected.
It is also the home of a number of major museums. To name a few; Shitamchi (downtown) Museum (⑥), Tokyo National Museum (⑦) and The National Museum of Western Art (⑧) designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. Nearby there is the well-known shopping street “Ameyoko” (⑨) crowded with stores offering clothes, miscellaneous goods, fresh fish and dried food. According to one theory, “Ame” refers to America; there used to be stores selling surplus American army goods just after World War II.
Today, Akihabara (①) looks like an odd town that mixes miscellaneous things, which is a mysterious magnet to foreigners. But it has developed along over times. It used to be a point of transportation and trade. Shortly after World War II it became a black market, where they were selling electrical and electronic components (➁).
During the high growth period of the 1960's, this climate turned the town into a major shopping center for household electronic goods, earning Akihabara the nickname "Electric Town".
As household electronics began to lose their appeal in 1980’s, the shops there shifted their focus to home computers. This brought in new consumers, computer nerds or otaku. And the market naturally latched onto customers who have strong interests in anime, manga and video games, which makes the town known worldwide as a center for subculture town up to the point that Akihabara become a sacred place (③).
Nowadays, the Icons from popular anime and manga are displayed on the shops in the area (④), and numerous maid café are found throughout the district (⑤). At the same time, there are some stores making and selling authentic Japanese crafts and foods, which are under the elevated railways (⑥).