Ueno: Home to the popular zoo, museums and temples

Ueno: Home to the popular zoo, museums and temples

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan
Japan’s oldest zoo, tons of museums, a French-style modern park filled with cherry trees, numerous Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, along with the busy streets of downtown make Ueno a great attraction in Tokyo. Ueno is a few hours away by train from any of the U.S. military installations in Kanto Plain, providing an ideal destination for a day trip.
Ueno Zoo the most popular in Japan
Established in 1882, Ueno Zoo is known not only as the oldest zoo, but also as the most popular zoo in Japan, with 3 million visitors per year.
The zoo is made up of eight areas, such as Gorilla Woods and Tiger Forest, Elephant Forest, Vivarium and Animals of Africa. Another area is the children’s zoo, where 400 species and 3,000 animals, including endangered Sumatra tigers and Nishiroarnd gorillas, are bred.
Of all the animals, the most popular is a pair of giant pandas. It’s almost impossible to not be charmed by the lovable Lee Lee (male) and Shin Shin (female).
The nation’s oldest monorail connects the eastern and western wings of the zoo. The ride provides a panoramic view of the zoo and Shinobazu Pond, and should not be missed.
Cultural center of Tokyo
After enjoying the zoo, I like to drop by a museum or two.

Among the museums, the Museum of Nature and Science is a good pick, as there is a wide range of exhibits exploring natural history, science and technology. There are roughly 14,000 items on display, with highlights that include displays of various 
species that lived and died in Japan over the millennia, a fantastic exhibit on dinosaur evolution, a cutting-edge theater where visitors can enjoy virtual space travel and a gallery featuring a global environment detector, which allows you to track real-time temperature changes through a large holographic screen. With many exhibits and events catering to children, the museum is an ideal spot for families.
All exhibits have English translations, so foreigners can enjoy them as much as locals do.
Location: Taito-ku, Tokyo
Attractions: Ueno Station, Ueno Zoo, Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo Bunkakaikan, Bentendo, Shinobazu Pond, Ueno Toshoguu, Kiyomizu Kannondo and  Ameyoko Street
URL: www.ueno.or.jp/ (Japanese)
Tel: 03-3833-0030 (Ueno Tourism Association)

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