Ueno Park is a large public park with a lot of art and cultural spots for tourists such as museums, a temple, shrines, a zoo and Tokyo University of Arts, etc. Visitors can take a walk around Shinobazu Pond to enjoy the nature such Sakura in spring and lotus flowers in summer. While walking, Bentendo shrine beautifully appears in the middle on the pond. Also, visitors can go for a small boating and see around the park from the pond.
Don’t miss the symbol of Ueno Park – the statue of Takamori Saigo which is just next to Shinobazu Pond. Of course, there are more things to do in Ueno Park.
Tokyo National Museum
Across from a huge fountain in Ueno Park, there is Tokyo National Museum. Among the museums in Ueno Park, this museum would be interesting to foreign tourists. The collections cover 600 outstanding works such as paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, decorative arts, and archaeology. Many of them show the Japanese history. In addition to art works, visitors can see the historical tools such as Katana (Japanese swards), Samurai armors and Kimono.
Shitamachi literally means downtown – Shita (down) and Matchi (town). Its original meaning is the area of Edo (former Tokyo) where usual people lived. Shitamachi Museum introduces the common life of the people in Tokyo in Meiji and Taisho era following Edo era. There are several kinds of rooms, kitchen, working place with daily tools as well as commune facilities for laundry and bath. Visitors can actually enter some shops in the old street and rooms to feel the life of the old good time Tokyo.
Ueno Zoo is the oldest zoo in Japan. There are over 2,600 animals from 464 different species.
The most popular animals here are two giant pandas named Ri Ri and Shin Shin arrived at the zoo in 2011. Many Japanease people will come to see Ri Ri and Shin Shin on weekend. Of course, there is an area especially for Japan-oriented animals. You may find some animals which you have never seen!
As Ueno Zoo is located in the park, visitors can also enjoy taking a walk in the nature to see historical buildings such as the Five-storied Pagoda and the tea ceremony house. Also, there are a part of Shinobazu Pond and a lot of Sakura (cherry blossom) trees. Visitors can see all in Ueno Zoo – animals, nature and historical buildings. As it is public, the admission fee is reasonable as a zoo.
Shitamachi Shopping in Ameya Yokocho “Ameyoko”
3 minutes walking from Ueno Park, there is a shopping street called Ameya Yokocho (generally called Ameyoko). It’s not a modern street, but a dynamic and unique street. First, Ameyoko attracts people by its variety of shops – fashion, cosmetics, fresh foods, snacks, arcade, Japanese souvenirs ,electroric products with reasonable prices. But more than that, visitors can franckly communicate with the shop sellers for negociating prices or just a usual conversation. This is a typical Shitamashi culture – traditional yet friendly.
First, visitors will find the oriental gate with the signboard of “Ameyoko” (アメ横). Going forward, there are shops selling fresh fish, fresh fruits and Japanese snacks which often offer tasting their products to cutomers. Their way to sell is a little like the auction in Tsukiji fish market. You will ask, and they will reply. They will propose, and you will ask more! Even without Japanese language, visitors can communicate with gestures, for example showing numbers with fingers. Not only for shopping but also for having a contact with Japanese people, Ameyoko is worth visiting.