Any big city worth its salt has a large public park where its citizens can congregate, relax and while away a day off. In Tokyo’s Taito neighborhood, that is Ueno Park. After you have overstimulated your senses in Akihabara, walk a few blocks north to the spacious and inviting Ueno Park. With the din of the arcades and electronic stores far behind, you can enjoy all the park has to offer, which is quite a lot.
If you approach from the south, the first thing you see are the ponds. Here, for a small fee of 600 yen, a peddle boat in the shape of a swan can be yours for 30 minutes. Show your sweetheart the time of his or her life peddling around a pond in the middle of Tokyo in a seaworthy swan. In the center of the pond leading up to the Benten Hall shrine is a line of booths selling food. From sweets to beverages to fried delights, you can have your pick, and everything is portable. So grab something that looks like a croquette for a snack and continue on to the Ueno Park Zoo. I have conflicting feelings about zoos, given their less than humane history. However, with many once common species being driven to the edge of extinction by man’s destruction of the planet, zoos may be the only chance the next generation has to see a tiger or koala or chimpanzee. As zoos go, this one is not that large, so it is easy on the feet. But if you are still fatigued, the monorail is there to rescue you.
The other side of the park is shadier and home to the quieter attractions of the park. The kids are all at the zoo or pond, so over here, you will find the people whose idea of fun is a museum. The Tokyo National Museum is your home for all things Japan. Inside, you get a glimpse at the art and artifacts most beloved by the Japanese. The museum takes about 2 hours to see and provides a wonderful overview of Japanese culture. Don’t miss the ancient scrolls unfurled or the exquisitely painted screens.
The zoo and Tokyo National Museum are open from 9:30 to 5, but is closed on Monday. Admission is 600 yen each.
With temples, shrines, food, museums and a zoo, there is something for everyone here