National

Public viewing of Ueno’s renovated Hakubutsukan Dobutsuen Station to start Nov. 23

JIJI

The now-defunct Hakubutsukan Dobutsuen Station (Museum Zoo Station) on the Keisei Line in Tokyo’s Ueno district is set to open for public viewing on Nov. 23 now that renovation work on the train depot, which started earlier this year, has been completed.

A ceremony to mark the completion of the refurbishment was held on Nov. 2, and participants included Japanese artist Katsuhiko Hibino, dean at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tokyo University of the Arts, which was involved in the work. The renowned art university has a campus in the Ueno district.

Located underground, the Keisei Electric Railway Co. station went into service in December 1933 and was used by 1,600 to 1,700 passengers per day until the early 1990s.

It was mainly used by visitors to the museums and Ueno Zoo in the Ueno Park area, as well as students of the art university.

The station, however, started to get fewer passengers after six-car trains became standard, as it could only accommodate trains with up to four cars.

The station halted operations in 1997 and was officially closed in 2004.

The station’s entrance building, located above ground, has pillars on its facade and was designated as a historical building by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in April, becoming the first railway-related facility given the status.

The refurbishment was decided through consultation among local public- and private-sector officials as part of moves to revitalize the Ueno Park area in the run-up to the Tokyo Games.

“Ueno has the (cultural and artistic) power,” Hibino told reporters after the ceremony, noting that it is connected to Narita International Airport via the Keisei Line and thus overseas.

“I want to spread information on Ueno’s attractions by utilizing facilities including the train station,” he said.

As part of the renovation work, Hibino designed a relief for the front door of the entrance building.

The renovated station will accept visitors for viewing between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the period from Nov. 23 to Feb. 24, 2019.

Works of contemporary art created by Japanese theater director Shirotama Hitsujiya and others will be on display at the station during the public viewing period.