Old-fashioned festivals, a museum-studded park & pandas at the zoo
Ueno isn’t one of my favorite parts of Tokyo, but it IS home to the most entertaining toy store in town. Sometimes there are blockbuster shows at the National Museum in Ueno Park, and if you want to see cherry blossom season at its most ridiculous, Ueno Park is the place to go.
This part of town does have a charming summer festival in July that includes a nighttime parade and floating lanterns on the Shinobazu pond.
The one thing I do make a special trip all the way to Ueno for is this toy store. Now that the renovated Kiddyland in Harajuku has gone so mainstream, Yamashiro-ya is my go-to emporium for only-in-Japan toystuffs. They still sell a magnificent variety of super-realistic air guns, have a fine model selection (Gundam, anime/manga characters, etc.) and still have quirky only-in-Japan character merchandise and weird toys.
Nearby destinations: Akihabara, Asakusa, Asakusa-bashi, Edo-Tokyo Museum, Inari-cho, Kappabashi, Mitsukoshi-mae, Nezu Shrine, Ningyo-cho
Jonelle Patrick writes mysteries set in Tokyo