You got to give it to the Japanese families; rainy weather cannot dampen their spirits or make them stay at home. With colorful raincoats, trademark transparent umbrella and baby stroller in tow, they brave the gloomy weather and head to explore Ueno Park like any ordinary sunny weekend. Well, maybe the weather itself added to the fun filled day and I cannot help but smile whenever I see a 4 yr old kid on his colorful raincoat exploring the zoo, acting like a grown up and leaving his parents behind. Well, if I were a kid I will be extremely happy as well it’s not everyday that your parents allow you to play in the rain, right?
Located one station after Akihabara, Ueno is a little town packed with activities for the whole family and can be a little overwhelming during weekends. Within the park, you’ve got 5 different museums- Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Shitamachi Museum and the one that I visited, the National Science Museum. I need to wait for almost 30 minutes before I managed to purchase the 1,500 yen ticket since everyone eager to see the special exhibition of Dinosaur Expo 2011. Well, still not worth the queue I suppose, the museum is jam-packed and you don’t even get a chance to go near the dinosaur fossil or even to read the description. Feeling a bit claustrophobic and tired, I just do a quick look and headed to the exit faster than the time I spend queuing in the line.
If your intention in going to Ueno Park is for a kid day out, I suggest skipping all the museums and head directly to the zoo. Consider as the oldest in Japan (open since 1882), Ueno Zoo is a well-maintained, with two giant panda bear as its popular residents apart from your usual animals and a monorail for at the top viewing. I believe what makes the Ueno Zoo a good weekend activity is the space, where kids are free to run and roamed around as they please. The entrance fee is not expensive (600 Yen for adults, 200 Yen for kids), so I don’t see any other reason not to check it out or be disappointed somehow. I like visiting zoo from time to time, its my way of appreciating the wonders of life.
After visiting the temples and shrines of Kamakura and Asakusa, I must say that I had enough pagoda and red lantern on my c: drive to last a life time, so I just walk around the park past the Kaneji Temple, Kiyomizu Temple , Toshogu Shrine and the octagonal shaped-temple of Bentendo. But I still encourage anyone to stop for a while and maybe take a souvenir photo.
Since this is my 58th blog post, I may sound like a total cliché at this point but let me say it again- there is a Tourist Information Desk at the park entrance across the Ueno JR Station. Asking for a little help and free map will not hurt right?