Before leaving Tokyo, I wanted to check out Ueno Park, which had been recommended to me by a friend and I’d seen as a top destination on several websites (I use TripAdvisor a lot, by the way, for reviews and ideas).
Our flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon, either, so we took the train to Ueno Station, grabbed a quick bite, rented a locker and stowed our two suitcases so we didn’t have to roll them around the park. How convenient! It was a nice, sunny day, and it’s a pretty big park. You could spend hours there.
At the park you’ll find several temples, a shrine, a large pond with a fleet of paddle boats and swan boats for rent, a zoo (Ueno Zoo: Japan’s oldest zoo, known for its giant pandas), a small children’s amusement park, multiple museums, and more. Apparently, the park grounds were originally part of the Kaneiji Temple, one of the city’s largest and wealthiest temples during the Edo Period. The grounds were later converted into a Western-style park and designated in 1873 as the first park in Japan.
I’m sure the park wasn’t as nice when we went as it is during its peak cherry blossom season — there was some construction along one of the walking paths, much of the pond was covered in reeds or something and, of course, many of the trees were bare — but, surprisingly enough, it was still pretty green and relaxing to stroll through. The temples were cool, got to see some more torii gates, large buddhas and other statues throughout the park. We ran out of time, though, and only made it as far as the Tokyo National Museum, since it was still a bit of a walk to get to the Kaneiji Temple. It was time to head to the airport.
Word of advice: If you’re trying to get up-close to the five-storied pagoda, note it is located inside the zoo! We walked around trying to get to it so we could take photos, but discovered it’s inside the zoo, and the zoo was closed that day, so. Be aware. Even though the zoo is inside Ueno Park, it has a separate entrance and is fenced off all around.
What’s amazing is that the sights of our quick trip to Tokyo didn’t end there. I knew that on our flight into Tokyo people seated on the other side of our plane had been able to see Mount Fuji. But little did I realize how close these planes actually get to it! During our flight out of Haneda Airport, we had the most amazing views of Mt. Fuji. I was in awe of how almost perfectly symmetrical it is. But I read that Mt. Fuji is technically a stratovolcano, and while stratovolcanoes are conical and very picturesque by nature, they’re actually the deadliest type of volcano! Wow. Here’s a short video I captured of it erupting. Just kidding.
Well, that’s it for the Tokyo series. I really enjoyed Japan and still have several things I’d like to experience there, for instance, watch some sumo wrestling. But! I’m happy with everything we were able to do in just a few days. Everyone was nice, too, and the service was good everywhere. Heck, as Will showed me, even the food at convenience stores is high quality! (Definitely not your 7-Eleven hot dogs.) We grabbed breakfast twice from FamilyMart. Probably the only negative thing we noticed is that they don’t seem to have many movie theaters. Haha.
Anyway, we’re hoping to make it to Osaka later this year, so stay tuned for posts on that. 🙂