VIDEO: A quick visit to Tokyo's busy Ueno District

Ueno Station
Ueno Station

VIDEO: A quick visit to Tokyo's busy Ueno District

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Ueno District is one of Tokyo’s busiest and has plenty of fun activities to fill an entire day. Here you’ll find Japan’s oldest zoo, more museums than you can visit in one day, a French-style modern park with a lake, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, and busy streets with food and merchandise vendors.


Every spring, the area draws thousands seeking to get a good view of the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom at Ueno Park. No matter the season, however, Ueno remains busy because it is also a train hub with over 17 platforms connecting local and far off domestic destinations.

From Ueno Station’s “Koenguchi” or Park Exit, you’ll get direct access to the park’s French-style fountain, museum buildings and, further in, the entrance to Ueno Zoo.

Ueno Park 

Ueno Park 

Established in 1882, Ueno Zoo is known not only as the oldest zoo, but also as the most popular one in the country with up to three million visitors per year. The zoo is made up of eight areas where 400 species and 3,000 animals including Giant Pandas, Sumatra tigers and elephants are bred.

Ueno Zoo

Ueno Zoo

Ueno Zoo

After visiting with the animal friends at the zoo, drop by one of the many museums with permanent and temporary exhibits on any subject you’re interested in like art, science and archeology. Some of the museums you’ll want to enjoy in Ueno are the Tokyo National Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science and the National Museum of Western Art.

For the music lovers, the Tokyo Bunkakaikan concert hall is the place to enjoy music, opera and ballet performances.

Before Ueno Park became a center for mental stimulation and study, it was a center for religion and spirituality. Originally, the park was a large temple of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Many of the buildings were destroyed during the war between the Shogunate government and Imperial arms 150 years ago, but some structures remain. Other buildings were restored as temples and shrines, showcasing the glorious time of samurai warriors.

Among the temples and shrines, Ueno Toshogu, Kiyomizu Kannondo and Ueno Daibutsu are must-see attractions, featuring a picturesque, five-tiered pagoda, majestic wooden buildings with minute carvings and beautifully designed traditional gardens.

Ueno Toshogu

Ueno Toshogu

Ueno Toshogu

Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple

Ueno Daibutsu

At the western end of Ueno Park is Bentendo Temple, a tiny, red-walled temple situated on an island of Shinobazu Pond. This temple is dedicated to the goddess of arts and merchants, so students preparing for exams and shop owners flock to it to wish for success.

Bentendo Temple

Shinobazunoike Pond 

For shopping and food, you don’t have to travel far from the park. Down the hill from the station’s Park exit is “Ameya-yokocho,” or “Ameyoko,” which means “candy shop alley” in Japanese. This area is bursting with street food stands, restaurants, izakaya bars, and sellers hawking fresh produce and deals on clothes, bags and shoes. This area is busy after work and on the weekends, so be prepared for crowds.

Ameyoko Street

Ueno District is a great place to take a break in busy Tokyo. Whether that break involves spending time enjoying the park, taking in some art at a museum or grabbing some yakitori at a nearby izakaya, is up to you. Ueno definitely has it all conveniently located in close proximity.



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