The Ueno/Asakusa area is filled with some of Tokyo's most famous tourist spots. This time we'll recommend 5 of the best places in the area to check out.
With over 30,000,000 visitors every year, Senso-ji is one of the most famous places in Tokyo. Senso-ji is the oldest temple in Tokyo with a history dating back to its founding in 628. It's said that the Buddha worshipped here, Avalokiteśvara, is the most compassionate of all the Buddhas. The Kaminarimon Gate, famous for its large paper lantern, is the gate which you pass through to enter the main path leading to the temple. It was built in 952 but burned down in 1865. The current version was rebuilt in 1960. The path leading from the Kaminarimon Gate to the Hozomon gate, called Nakamise, is lined by a total of 89 stores. They sell foods like Asakusa's famous ningyoyaki, kaminari okoshi, and age-manjuu as well as other souvenirs. Senso-ji is a temple for wish fulfillment so you can make any type of prayer. Eating your way through Nakamise is really fun, but don't forget to visit the temple itself!
2. Asakusa Hanayashiki
Asakusa Hanayashiki was built in 1853, the late Edo period, by landscaper gardener Rokusaburou Morita as a flower garden with tree peonies and chrysanthemums. It was re-built into its current form as an amusement park in 1949. It's most famous attraction is the oldest roller coaster in Japan built in 1952. It is still in service now over 60 years later. There is an elegant pond within the park grounds with koi fish swimming around. The Shiawasebashi ("bridge of happiness") spanning the pond is a popular spot for taking pictures. Enjoy yourself the rides at this retro Showa-style amusement park!
Entrance fee: Adults (middle school - 64 years old) 1,000 JPY; children and seniors (age 65 and older) 500 JPY.
*Hours of operation vary with the season, weather, etc.. Check on the official homepage before making plans.
3. Kappabashi Dougu Street
Kappabashi Dougu street is an 800 meter shopping street running north and south between Asakusa and Ueno. It is composed over 170 specialty stores that specialize mainly in tableware, kitchenware, food samples, cook uniforms, and other food and restaurant related products. They sell items meant for professional businesses, but anyone can shop there. Kappabashi has endless kinds of food-related shops, but our top recommendation is the Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya. Here they sell the food samples that you see in store windows all across Japan and also hold classes where you can make them yourself. You can bring back your own sample as a memento from your trip and to surprise your friends.
*Picture is of food samples in a restaurant window
4. Ameya Yokocho
Ameya Yokocho is an open air market that started as a black market in the chaos following the war. Spanning a distance around 500 meters from Ueno Station to Okachimachi Station and lined with over 400 shops, Ameya Yokocho is busy with people every day. During their peak business season around New Year's, it gets over 500,000 visitors per day. It's often shown on TV as something to represent the New Year's season. They have not just snacks and fresh food, but also clothing, shoes, bags, jewels, medicine, and cosmetics as well as pretty much everything you can think of at very cheap prices. Ameya Yokocho is a shopping wonderland! It's fun just listening to the powerful voices advertising their shops, but you can also try your hand at bargaining in the fresh foods shops. You might find a great bargain so try heading there yourself.
5. Ueno Zoological Gardens
Ueno Zoological Gardens (commonly shortened to Ueno Zoo) was built in 1882 and is Japan's oldest zoo. Over 400 species of animals live on its large grounds. The zoo is divided into east and west garden sections and connected by a monorail (adults 150 JPY, children 80 JPY). The main east garden is home to the ever-popular giant pandas, the medium-sized monkeys, gorillas, and polar bears. The west garden houses penguins, flamingos, giraffes, features an amphibian and reptile house, a small mammal house, and an area with domestic animals geared primarily for children. Even though it's within the center of the Tokyo metropolis, you can relax in the large gardens surrounded by green and filled with cute animals from all around the world!
Hours of Operation: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Entrance fee: General 600 JPY; 65 and older 300 JPY; middle school age 200 JPY; elementary school age and lower free
How did you like our picks? Tokyo's lively old town, Asakusa/Ueno area also has lots of museums and art museums to see. Every time you visit you will definitely be able to find something new!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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