Ueno Park has a lot to offer. The main draws are the great museums and the pandas at the zoo, but there are a couple temples to visit as well. Ueno Park used to be part of Kaneji Temple, but after the civil war in 1868 wiped out the temple grounds, it was turned into a public park. A modest version of Kaneji Temple itself still exists, northwest of the park. Other parts of the temple remain today, though Bentendo is an independent temple enshrining Benten/Benzaiten, the goddess of fortune.
It sits on an island of sorts at the south side of the park, surrounded by a lake (Shinobazu Pond) that is full of plant life.
In the winter, it's quite bare, but in the warmer months it's a nice sea of green.
There are several monuments around the temple.
The temple was recently renovated and is now scaffolding-free. It looks as good as new!
Just off to the side of the temple is an islet reached by a short bridge.
This is another shrine, but it is closed to the public.
With a fresh coat of paint, the temple's roof looks great.
The front doors are ornately styled and the whole temple uses bold but simple colors.
Inside, there is a large lantern and offering box, as well as some charms and fortunes on sale. Beyond that is the inner temple itself.
This is the view from the back. A small bridge leads to another small building.
The roof is worth a look too.
The view of the pagoda portion of the temple from the back side.
The temple from across the lake, on the south side.
Behind Bentendo, you will find paddle boats and swan boats to take a spin around the portion of the lake without lots of plants. It's supposed to be bad luck to do so with someone you love, though. During the cherry blossom season, Ueno Park, especially Bentendo, is packed with people and several stalls selling food are set up around the temple.
Bentendo is free and open year round from 7 AM until 5 PM; it is possible to walk past the temple at night as well although the doors are shut. The temple and Shinobazu Pond make up the lower portion of the park, accessible from JR Ueno Station as well as the subway and Keisei Ueno stations.