Ueno, Tokyo, Japan

Things to Do in Ueno

Updated November 9, 2019, by C. Thiele, 23 year veteran of Tokyo.

The top sights not to miss while in the Ueno area are definitely the Ueno Park, the Zoo, and the National Museum of Western Art.

Ameyayokocho is another.

Even though Ueno is in downtown Tokyo it has an almost classic feel. You get the sense there is a lot of history here.

Let’s go through some of the top things to see in Ueno.

Ueno Zoo

Home to over 3,000 animals, including 3 of the rarest – the Giant Panda, Pygmy Hippopotamus, and the Okapi (zebra giraffe). 

Ueno Zoo also houses some really incredible creatures that are unique to Japan. Here, you can get a close look at the elegant Japanese Crane, Japanese Salamander, White Stork, and the Japanese Serow. 

This is a highlight while visiting Ueno.

The animals are well taken care of, but because this is an older zoo, the enclosures are smaller than what you might think they should be.

If you are sensitive to this type of thing, I suggest sticking with the panda’s and then visiting the other attractions the zoo has to offer. 

What to do in Ueno Zoo

When visiting the zoo, the first thing that you must see is the pandas. They are absolutely the main event at the zoo. 

Another unique animal to see is the Okapi. It is a cross between a zebra and a giraffe and just a very different looking kind of animal. 

Of course, there are many other animals to see, it is a zoo after all, but Ueno Zoo is also where you will find other attractions that are must-sees in Ueno. 

For example, Shinobazu Pond, the five-storied pagoda, and Bentendo temple can be found on zoo grounds.

Ueno Zoo prices

  • Admission is free for children under 12
  • 200 yen for children 12-14
  • 600 yen for adults 15-64.
  • 300 yen for senior citizens.

Ueno Zoo map pin


Ueno Park

Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan

Inside Ueno Onshi Park is where you will find most of Ueno’s top sights to visit. 

This is where you will find the zoo, renowned museums as well as beautiful shrines, temples, gardens, and ponds to enjoy.

It’s also a popular spot for enjoying the cherry blossom’s when they are in bloom. 

Inside you’ll find:

  • Shinobazu Pond – on the south part of the park and is separated into 3 different ponds: Lotus pond, Boat pond, Cormorant pond. A beautiful site to see when the water lilies are blooming. Keep your eye out for migratory ducks and birds as well as alligator snapping turtles.
  • Bentendo Temple –A floating hexagonal tower floating in the middle of the Shinobazu pond. Named after Benzaiten, a goddess who is enshrined there is said to bring good luck.
  • Toshogu Shrine – This is a very strikingly beautiful shrine that was built to honor the religion of Shinto and Tokugawa Leyasur, the Shogunate who unified all of the primitive domains of Japan.
  • Hanazonoinari Shrine – designed after the popular Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, this shrine is a smaller version but has the same red torii gates that line the walkway to the shrine. A popular spot amongst tourists for Instagram photos.

Ueno Park prices

The park itself is free to roam, explore, and just plain enjoy. However, it does cost to get into the attractions that are located inside the park. 

Ueno Park map pin


National Museum of Western Art

The oldest and largest art museum in Japan, where you can see medieval Japanese art as well as Asian cultural objects.

There are seven special exhibits, each holding their own collection of works and relics. The museum has restaurants and shops for snacks and souvenirs and even has its own garden for relaxing.

Tokyo National Museum prices

Adults 19-69 years of age are 620 yen per person. A group of 20 or more at this age is 520 yen per person. 

University students are 410 per person. A group of 20 or more is 310 yen per person

High school, Junior High, Elementary School Students under the age of 18 are free

Seniors over 70 are also free.

National Museum map pin


National Museum of Nature and Science

COST: ¥620 for all regular exhibits
OPEN: Mon-Thu: 0930-1730; Fri/Sat: 0930-2100; Sun: 0930 – 1800;
closed Mondays

Learn how humans came to inhabit Japan and how their interaction with nature precipitated rice cultivation and how that cultivation influenced technology.

If you remember the story of Hachiko, the ever-loyal dog who waited at Shibuya station for his master, you will be delighted by seeing his stuffed body here.

There is a meteorite that fell on China, a fighter plane from WWII, a 360 theater, a 3D movie theater, and much more.

Nature and Science Museum  map pin


Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Enjoy strolling through 6 galleries of contemporary Japanese art with artistic expressions in paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and calligraphy. 

No matter your specific taste in art, there are plenty of showcases that are sure to captivate your interest.

Metropolitan Art Museum map pin


Marui Department Store

Here you will find 9 floors of trendy Tokyo fashion, household items, and just about anything else you would find at a typical mall. 

The first four floors are dedicated to female fashion, the fifth floor is mostly accessories, and the sixth and seventh floor is for men fashion. 

The eighth floor is home goods, and the ninth floor is where you will find food.

Mauri map pin


Ameya Yokocho

Called Ameyoko for short, this area is like an outdoor mall, but with a local farmer/flea market vibe. 

It’s almost always crowded, but it is primarily on the weekends and around New Year’s. This is where you will find the best prices on just about anything you are looking for. 

Ameyoko used to be home to a black market after the war. Plus, there is a plethora of incredibly tasty food, and dessert stands to satisfy your taste buds while on the go. 

And yes, you can eat and walk here.

Ameyoko map pin


Yamashiroya

This is the place to find Japanese or International toys and collectibles. 

Of course, there are 6 floors, so it is also where you will find a vast selection of popular items like Star Wars, Lego, and Barbie. They have everything from Studio Ghibli to Disney, and it is always packed. 

One of the things children love in Japan is the capsule toy vending machines. Here you will find 60 machines that will instantly capture your little one’s attention.

Yamashiroya map pin


There you have it. Some of my top picks for things to do in Ueno. This will be a living document I add to over time too. So more to come.