Ueno

All About Winter Peony Garden in Ueno – A Must-See Just Next to the Zoo!

The biggest reason for travelers to visit Ueno is definitely the giant pandas in Ueno Zoo. Tokyo National Museum may be important to some people because we can see the REAL samurai swords and ancient Japanese arts there.

So most travelers get happy enough to see PANDAS, say “Yeah!!!” with holding their camera and go back to the hotel.

WAIT, don’t return! It’s too early!

If you go on a trip to Tokyo in January or February, I know something so beautiful that you should NEVER miss just next to Ueno Zoo; Winter Peony Garden. In my opinion, it’s a must-see in Ueno in winter and good for an after-zoo wind down. Read this article, and you’ll never regret your trip later!

What is Winter Peony Garden?

To talk about the Winter Peony Garden, I think it’s better to see the photos first.

a photo of red peonies with straw fence

Like this, a lot of peonies are surrounded by snow fences woven from straw (yuki gakoi)  – that’s the Winter Peony Garden.

many peonies surrounded by straw fences

When I visit Ueno in winter (for the PANDAS, maybe),  I like to explore the garden and feel calm in the atmosphere. The next is you!

Ueno Toshogu Shrine

Then, your next question may be, “Where is it exactly?”

Actually, it is part of Ueno Toshogu Shrine, which is literally neighboring to Ueno Zoo. The GOLDEN main hall looks like this when we see it from the front,

Ueno Toshogu Shrine and two people praying
The main building of Ueno Toshogu Shrine.

and we can see its back from the zoo!

Helpful Link: Google Maps of Toshogu Shrine

Ueno Toshogu was founded in 1651, which is the samurai era, so it’s a very old shrine. Actually, they finished the renovation in 2014, so it’s so beautiful and GOLDEN now.

In the season when the garden is open, you won’t miss the sign to guide you to the entrance.

the entrance of the peony garden of Ueno Toshogu Shrine
The entrance of the Peony Garden

Just the entrance is beautiful enough, isn’t it?

What’s more, they recently put the ticket vending machine! Traveling internationally always gives us a little nervousness, but you’ll never have a language problem here.

Photos of Winter Peonies

Now, let’s see my photos to explore the garden!

When we go through the entrance, the biggest flower display welcomes us soon.

A display of flowers in the Japanese garden

So beautiful… The display is different every year, so I look forward to seeing it every time I visit there.

white and pink peony flowers surrounded by a straw fence

You’ll see some long signs beside the winter peonies. They are Japanese haiku or tanka poems that common visitors left in the previous year.

Talking about the flowers, there are some color variations in peonies. For example, this is marble pink.

Zoomed flowers and straw fence

White.

a big white peony flower and a straw fence

Red.

A red peony and its green leaves

Which do you like? They have been attracting many local photographers for long.

Travel Tip for Photographers

According to my own experience, the sunlight may bother you. It depends on the time, but you may need to take a picture against the sun. So I advise you to take a lens hood.

Also, don’t underestimate your smartphone camera. It possibly does a surprisingly great work!

Winter Peonies and Ueno Pagoda

Peonies with straw fences are beautiful enough, but there is a good addition to the view – it’s a pagoda!

A pagoda, trees and peony flowers on the ground

I think the view is like a postcard, but amazingly, it’s real!

A pagoda and three straw fences surrounding peony flowers
The display near the exit.

Ueno Pagoda was built in 1639. It used to be part of Kan’eiji Temple and is registered as an Important Cultural Property by the government today.

Travel Tip: The pagoda gets WASHED once a year. I once saw it by chance. If you are there on the pagoda washing day, you are SUPER LUCKY!

Different Ways of Peony Display

The straw fences are eye-catching enough, but we can see peonies displayed in some different ways as well!

Four colorful peonies in the grey water bowl
In the water bowl.
Japanese new year flower decorations in the Japanese garden.
In a vase.

I think gardeners do a great job every year.

Things to See except Peonies to Explore Japanese New Year

Like the World of Japanese Classic Literature

We can take a rest on traditional red benches and warm hands over the pot with charcoal.

a red bench and flowers in the Japanese garden
Let’s take a rest here.

A pot like this was a major way to warm hands 1000 years ago, but honestly, it’s rare to see them for Japanese locals like me today. I feel as if I were in some classic literature!

Japanese Winter Flowers and Plants

The garden is for peonies, but they are not all. Don’t miss other greens in Japanese winter.

A photo of mitsumata tree and a red bench behind
Mitsumata, a winter plant.
Pink plum blossoms and the pagoda
Plum blossoms.
Yellow plum blossoms
Yellow plum blossoms (roubai).
Yellow narcissuses and a small waterwheel
Yellow narcissuses.
A shishiodoshi and a blue pot.
A Japanese shishiodoshi.

Beautiful Bonsais

There are also bonsais (traditional Japanese small plant pots) on display.

I heard that bonsai lovers exist all over the world today and some even visit Japan for bonsais. I’m not a bonsai expert, but I simply feel they were cozy and beautiful.

A bonsai with pine leaves
A traditional bonsai.
Two bonsais and Japanese fans.
Bonsais with pandas!

Decorations to Feel Japanese January & February

We can find a kadomatsu in the emoji list on our smartphone (look up the emoji of three bamboos!). It is a traditional Japanese New Year decoration and you can find it in this photo. Yes, we can see the real thing there!

A photo of pink peonies in the Japanese garden in winter
Japanese January

The garden is open until February, so they sometimes put things for Setsubun Festival, too.

A bonsai pot with oranges and a red demon mask.
Setsubun decorations in a bonsai pot.

I can feel a lot of Japanese New Year (and Setsubun, sometimes) and that’s why I want to drop in at the Winter Peony Garden when I go to Ueno in winter.

In Conclusion – NEVER Go Back Soon After Seeing the Pandas!

Ueno is a place with so many things to see. The giant pandas are the stars to attract most people, but there are also 4 big art museums, a science museum to meet the real dinosaur fossils and concert halls. To enjoy this fascinating district to the fullest, we need to decide what to see.

Among those fantastic arts and animals in Ueno, I strongly believe that Winter Peony Garden cannot drop out from your must-see check list. The garden is made for only peonies, so it is not large to make you tired after the zoo. You can even put it on the top of the list.

Drop in at Winter Peony Garden and I’m sure you’ll add a beautiful experience to your memorable trip to Tokyo! 

Visitor Information

Ueno Toshogu Winter Peony (Fuyu-Botan)

Opening Hours: 9:30 – 16:30

Ticket: 1000 yen for one adult, free for under 13 year-old children

Helpful Links

Toshogu Shrine Peony Garden Official Website: https://uenobotanen.com/schedule/winter/

Link to Google Maps of Toshogu Shrine

Read More about Ueno

Ueno Sightseeing Guide: All about attractions, museum data and accommodation in Ueno

Cherry Blossom Festival

Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Festival

A Perfect Guide to Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Festival IN THE EVENING

3 Reasons to Visit Ueno Park AFTER Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Festival

Ueno Zoo

All About the Giant Panda Family in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo, Japan

NEW Giant Panda House in Ueno Zoo

Shoebills in Ueno Zoo? What Are They?

A Sad Tale of Elephants in Ueno Zoo: a tragedy in World War 2

Museums

The Best Things to See at Tokyo National Museum in Ueno: full of old & important arts!

Advice on Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno

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