Ueno Area


Ueno is home to a museum-studded park, a zoo with pandas, and the most entertaining toy store in town. It’s worth checking out the 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 kind of beer-drinking banquet craziness is common in Ueno Park during The Season.
This temple is worth going to just so you can say you’ve been to the “Hair Pagoda for Priest Tenkai.”
The Ueno Toshogu shrine hosts a killer peony exhibit in April, and also has an awfully photogenic red and gold pagoda


There’s a charming summer festival in July that includes a nighttime parade and floating lanterns on the Shinobazu pond. For this year’s dates, check the Tokyo Cheapo website July events page.

The zoo is worth visiting if you love pandas.

Open: Six days a week, closed Mondays, on the day after national holidays, and from December 29 – January 1. Open other holidays.

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:00)

Admission: Adults: ¥600, Seniors (65 & older): ¥300, Students (13-15): ¥20, Children (0-12): Free.


And the Natural Museum of Nature & Science in Ueno Park is worth a visit, if only to see the actual stuffed Hachiko whose statue stands loyally outside Shibuya Station. Hachiko is in my favorite wingo fht emuseum, the one devoted to All Things Japanese. It features exhibits on gigantic rhinoceros beetles, the five kinds of native Japanese dogs, and an excellent diorama featuring a life-sized child mannequin being annoyed that his mother is making his liten to an annoying old guy uncle-splaining something.


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

Read a novel set in Tokyo

The #1 hostboy at Club Nova makes a handsome living, whispering sweet nothings in the ears of women who pay him a fortune for the privilege. But the party’s over when Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura is assigned to investigate the death of one of Hoshi’s customers…read more



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