Translated by MATCHA
Ueno - Travel Guide And Top 10 Places To Visit
Ueno is a well-known sightseeing area in Tokyo with museums, a beautiful park famous as a cherry blossom spot, and other exciting things to do. This travel guide introduces Ueno and 10 places to visit in this historically-rich yet modern town.
Written by Yuki ISHIBASHI
Ueno - Tokyo's Most Popular Leisure District
Tokyo's Ueno area is popular with travelers and locals as a weekend leisure destination. It boasts several great destinations such as the Tokyo National Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, the world-famous Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo, and many other leisure facilities enjoyed by adults and children alike.
Ueno Park is one of Tokyo's most popular cherry blossom viewing spots, with thousands of people coming to enjoy a picnic under the cherry trees in spring.
In addition, there are numerous shrines and local shopping streets that give a taste of Japanese culture. Located in eastern Tokyo's Taito ward, Ueno is also considered the shitamachi, or traditional downtown of Tokyo, since the Edo era. This neighborhood holds a historical significance that visitors can feel and appreciate firsthand by simply strolling down the streets.
This article narrows down the top 10 things to do in Ueno and provides a travel guide for visitors coming to this very special area of Tokyo.
1. Ueno Park
Takamori Saigo, a historically important figure from the Meiji Era. Picture from Things to Do in Ueno Park, Tokyo: Ueno Zoo, Museums, and Cherry Blossoms
Ueno Park is one of the most popular parts of Ueno and is known as the first public park in Japan. The sprawling 53,000 square meter park is home to Ueno Zoo, Shinobazu Pond, and several museums, making it easy to spend an entire day just strolling and visiting attractions. The family-friendly and entertaining activities here create an especially welcoming atmosphere to visitors of all ages.
During the cherry blossom season in April and May, the park becomes painted in beautiful shades of pink as the trees bloom, gathering crowds of visitors coming to relax under the sakura. If you are coming to the Ueno area, visiting Ueno Park is a must.
Access: Tokyo, Taito, Uenokoen 2-1 Google Map
2. Hanazono Inari Shrine
Hanazono Inari Shrine is a shrine located in Ueno Park. It is popular with visitors wanting to improve their luck in love and is a well-known matchmaking power spot. The entrance is visually impactful with its red Senbon Torii, or one thousand torii gates. Here, the countless torii stand at the entrance to form an impressive pathway.
Located inside Ueno Park, this place is very easy to access. The beautiful, vibrant-colored Japanese shrine will surely become a wonderful memory of your visit to Ueno.
Access: Tokyo, Taito, Uenokoen 4-17 Google Map
3. Ameyoko - Everyone's Favorite Shopping Street
Picture from 7 Things You Should Do In Ueno!
The bustling shopping street of Ameyoko is well-known as one of Ueno's defining areas, gathering crowds on the weekends. Historically, Ameyoko began as a black market during World War II but has since transformed into a popular shopping area with a vibrant atmosphere. The market is appealing for its discount prices and wide variety of goods for sale.
Visitors will find everything here from fresh groceries to clothing and cosmetics. You can also find plenty of food stalls lining Ameyoko. Those with a sweet tooth should stop by the famous Cha no Kiminoen for matcha ice cream or try dorayaki, a traditional Japanese sweet filled with red bean paste.
4. Ueno Zoo - Watch the Cutest Animals!
Ueno Zoo is home to many animal species unique to Japan, such as the Yezo deer, native to Hokkaido, and the adorable Japanese squirrel. If you are coming to Ueno, definitely take the time to visit to see these rare animals.
Another reason to visit Ueno Zoo is to see Riri, Shinshin, and Shanshan, Tokyo's world-famous pandas. Their endearing mannerisms and cute expressions are captivating and heart-melting. The popularity of these furry creatures has also resulted in a large supply of panda-themed foods, and merchandise for sale in the Ueno Zoo and surrounding area that make perfect gifts and souvenirs.
Access: Tokyo, Taito, Uenokoen 9-83 Google Map
5. Bentendo Temple at Shinobazu Pond
Bentendo Temple, located in Ueno Park, is a Buddhist temple, home to Benzaiten, a goddess associated with education, art, wealth, and matchmaking. Built in the middle of Shinobazu Pond, the temple has a floating, ethereal appearance, and its colorful hexagonal tower is visible from far away.
Bentendo is a unique temple and a great spot to visit in between trips to other sight-seeing hotspots in the Ueno area.
Access: Tokyo, Taito, Uenokoen 2-1 Google Map
6. Tokyo National Museum - The Best Place to Learn about Japan's History and Art
Picture from Ukiyo-e, Mandala And More: Tokyo National Museum
Those with an interest in the arts and history shouldn't miss out on the Tokyo National Museum, which is located within the Ueno Park grounds. Offering a wide collection of over 110,000 pieces of artwork and cultural assets, dropping into this museum is a great way to educate yourself about the arts in Japan.
Among the displays, visitors will find samurai armor, intricately-painted traditional folding screens, and Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints. The museum also includes art and historical artifacts from other Asian countries.
7. Shitamachi Museum - Learn about the Local Culture
Picture from Slip Back In Time At Ueno's Shitamachi Museum
The Shitamachi Museum is a unique history museum in Ueno depicting merchant life in Tokyo from the Meiji period through the Showa period. The museum contains displays of reconstructed traditional Japanese rooms on the first floor and showcases historical items such as wooden toys, houseware, and apparel on the upper level. Visiting the Shitamachi Museum is an entertaining and interactive way to learn more about Japanese history and is a highly recommended spot.
Access: Tokyo, Taito, Uenokoen, 2-1 Google Map
Official Website: http://www.taitocity.net/zaidan/english/shitamachi/
8. Takeya - A Popular Shopping Mall
Picture from Takeya: Tokyo’s Well Kept Shopping Secret
Takeya is a massive shopping mall that consists of 8 buildings containing a variety of Japanese brands and merchandise. In comparison to the previously-mentioned Ameyoko, Takeya offers a different shopping experience in the layout of the stores as well as the items for sale.
Each building has its own theme, making it easy to find what you're looking for right away. Takeya also offers free WiFi for its customers. It operates as a duty-free store, which makes it a convenient and popular spot for those traveling from outside Japan with a foreign passport.
Access: Tokyo, Taito 4-33-2 Google Map
9. Kurand Sake Market - Taste Japanese Sake
For those interested in trying Japanese sake but not sure where to start, the Kurand Sake Market in Ueno offers an unlimited tasting menu of around one hundred types of sake brewed in various places in Japan. This is a great opportunity to enjoy different flavors of sake in a relaxing, fun atmosphere.
The venue even holds events where customers can meet and casually chat with brewers to learn more about the sake craft. You can make an advance reservation online or show up on the day you want to enter, but keep in mind that spots are limited. Kurand Sake Market is just a 6-minute walk from JR Ueno Station.
10. Ueno Sakuragi Atari
Picture from Get A Glimpse Of 1938 Japan, In Uenosakuragi, Ueno
Ueno Sakuragi Atari is a serene area of stylish cafes and shops with a retro atmosphere located in the Ueno-Yanaka area of Tokyo. Several shopping and dining facilities are located in renovated traditional Japanese houses from the 1930s, offering visitors a unique and meaningful experience.
Visitors who have more leisure time to spend in the Ueno are suggested to try this area. Ueno Sakuragi Atari is a 10-15 minute walk away from JR Nippori or Ueno Stations, and Nezu or Sendagi Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line.
Access: Tokyo, Taito, Uenosakuragi, Atari 2-15-6 Google Map
How to Get to Ueno
Ueno is one of Tokyo's central transportation hubs, making it easily accessible from airports and other locations in Tokyo and Japan. From Narita Airport, visitors coming to Ueno can take the Keisei Skyliner and arrive at Keisei Ueno Station directly, in about 41 minutes.
The JR Ueno Station is also a Shinkansen stop connected to the Hokkaido, Tohoku and Hokuriku regions of Japan. This means that traveling to these destinations in Japan from Ueno especially convenient.
Where To Stay in Ueno
Ueno is an ideal place to stay for travelers due to its convenience and access to Narita Airport and the shinkansen at Ueno Station. From Keisei Ueno Station, riding the Kesei Skyliner is a 41-minute ride to Narita Airport, and taking a regular train will take you there in 70 minutes.
Our recommended places to stay in Ueno are Hotel Villa Fontaine Ueno, Ueno Hotel and Candeo Hotels Ueno Park. What these facilities have in common is that they offer good services and are reasonably priced.
Enjoy Ueno, The Heart of the Old Downtown
The traditional downtown atmosphere combined with the modern side of Tokyo fuse together in Ueno, making this neighborhood a great area for entertainment, education, and dining, all within an incredibly convenient location in Tokyo. If you are coming to Tokyo or Japan, be sure to stop by to discover for yourself what Ueno has to offer.