Translated by Shannon McNaught
3 Recommended Routes to Take in Ueno Zoo
Written by Hori Yuhei
Ueno Zoo houses thousands of animals! As it's difficult to get through all of it in one day, here we recommended three routes, to suit your viewing needs.
Ueno Zoo is a lot bigger than I thought...
Ueno Zoo houses over 3000 animals, of 400 different species. It's difficult, to say the least, to see them all in one day. Choosing the animals you want to see the most, and planning a route around them is the best way to go.
Today, we'll teach you 3 routes through the zoo recommended by MATCHA.
1) For those who don't have a lot of time, the "It's OK if we just see these" Course
The "It's OK if we just See these" Course makes stops at some of the zoo's most popular animals.
A symbol of bravery, the tiger
Tigers are the largest cats that inhabit Asia. They've remained a symbol of power in Asia for generations. As an animal in danger of becoming extinct, there are only about 4,000 tigers remaining in the world.
You'll think "Yup, that's big" when you see the giraffe
Everyone knows what a giraffe looks like, but you'll undoubtedly be surprised by its size when you see one in person. When male giraffes fight, they swing their long necks around like whips.
Booming with popularity in Japan, is the gorilla
Since the beginning of 2015, "Gorilla Girls," or, girls obsessed with gorillas, have become a hot topic. See one of these wildly popular gorillas in person at Ueno Zoo.
Ueno Zoo's feature creature, the panda
Pandas are one of Japan's most popular animals. Since there aren't a lot of zoos where you can see pandas in Japan, Ueno Zoo's pandas get a regular stream of visitors. They're a must-see for visitors from outside of Japan, too.
Perfect for children, the "Kid's Park" course
If you're bringing children to the zoo, it's not only the popular animals you should see; we also recommend the "Kid's Park," where you can interact with some of the animals.
What exactly is The Kid's Park?
Located in the west area of Ueno Zoo, this is an area where you can interact with free-roaming animals. Check the "Today's Events" board at the zoo's entrance to see when events like "Goat Feeding Time" and "Interaction Corner" are scheduled.
In the Nakayoshi (or "Friendly") Square, you can pet animals such as goats, sheep, and chickens. There are also times when you can feed the goats by hand.
The Magariya is where livestock such as cows, and horses are kept. It hosts popular events where you can actually hold animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chicks.
The Friendly Ranch
The Friendly Ranch is where larger animals (miniature horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, and pigs) are kept. There are also events where you can interact with the animals here.
Recommended for visitors to Japan, the "Japanese Creature" course
On your immediate left, after entering Omote-mon Gate Square, is Gojuu Tower (五重塔), a historical Japanese structure. Around here, you'll find the Japanese Animal Area, that exhibits Japanese antelope, 'Yezo' deer, and wild birds. You'll also find cages joining Lidth's Jays and Japanese squirrels.
Now we'll tell you about some other Japanese animals that you can see in Ueno Zoo.
Nara and Miyajima Island's famous Japanese deer
You can see these deer, without even going to Nara or Miyajima Island, at Ueno Zoo!
Sweet-sounding Japanese wild birds
Many types of Japanese wild birds are exhibited at Ueno Zoo. There are two exhibits, marked "I" and "II."
Check out those chest marks! The Asiatic black bear
The "tsuki no wa" in "Tsukinowaguma" (Asiatic Black Bear) translates to "outline of the moon." With a white crescent mark on its chest, it is aptly named.
Settlers of Japan's first Monkey Mountain, Japanese monkeys
Have you ever seen those pictures of monkeys soaking in Japanese hot springs? Those are Japanese monkeys. You can't see them enjoying onsen (Japanese hot springs) here, but you can see groups of them living together! By the way, the first zoo to build a saruyama (※1) ("monkey mountain") was Ueno Zoo.
※1…A saruyama, or "monkey mountain," is a man-made mountain built to house monkeys. This is a common way to exhibit primates in Japanese zoos.
West Park: the Japanese Ranch in the Kid's Park
You can find Mishima Cows, from Yamaguchi Prefecture in this ranch.
There are also Kuchi-no-shima Cows, from Kagoshima Prefecture's Tokara Islands.
How did you like it? There are so many more animals in Ueno Zoo. If you still want to see more, get there early so that you'll have plenty of time to walk around.
Address: 9-83 Ueno Zoo, Taito-ku, Tokyo-to
Closed: Monday (in case of holidays, the zoo will be closed the next day)
New Year's Holidays: (12/29~1/1) *May be open on Mondays
Available map languages: English, Chinese, Korean
Nearest station: If entering through the East Park's Omote-mon Gate:
5-minute walk from JR Ueno Station (Park Exit)
10-minute walk from Keisei Dentetsu Ueno Station (Seimen Exit)
12-minute Tokyo Metro Ginza Line/Hibiya Line Ueno Station (7th Exit)
15-minute Toei Underground Railway Oedo Line Ueno-okachimachi Station (A5 Exit)
If entering through the West Park's Ikenohata-mon Gate
5-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Nezu Station (2nd Exit)
Phone number: 03-3828-5171
Official website: Ueno Zoo