If you are ever in the city of Tokyo, one place you definitely need to check out is the district of Ueno. Considered to be the cultural heart of Tokyo, Ueno is home to some of Tokyo’s finest cultural sites. You’ll find things like the Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Western Art, and also plenty of unique and interesting temples all around. But it is best known for being the home to the beautiful Ueno Park.
In many ways, Ueno actually feels like a blast from the past. You’ll find that it is a place filled with tons of culture and history. You can walk around for days on end and always find something cool and interesting to do.
With that being said, if you are wondering what things you are able to do in Ueno, then you are in the right place.
In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Ueno, Tokyo.
So if you are ready, lets go check it out!
- Best Things To Do In Ueno
- Visit The Ueno Zoo
- Stroll Around Ueno Park
- Shop At Kappabashi
- Check Out Nezu Shrine
- Shop At Ameyoko
- View Some Art At The National Museum Of Western Art
- Check Out The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
- Buy Some Anime At Yamashiroya
- Play With Cats At Neko Maru Café
- Shop At Marui Department Store
- Eat At Kamonka Ueno Bamboo Garden
- Visit Ueno Koreatown
- Check Out Shinobazu Pond
- Visit Ueno Toshogu
- Visit Bentendo Temple
- Stroll Along To The Hanazonoinari Shrine
- Soak Your Foot At Momi No Yu
- Stroll Through Yanaka Cemetery
- Pray To A Giant Buddhas Face
- Check Out The SkyTree
Best Things To Do In Ueno
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Ueno.
Visit The Ueno Zoo
What started as a little exhibit has since exampled into one of the most popular attractions in all of Tokyo. It is considered to be Japan’s oldest zoo as it has been open since the year 1882. Ueno zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 400 different species. Here you’ll find animals like polar bears, red panda, emu, black rhinoceros, sun bear and more for visitors to see and learn.
But the best part about this zoo is that the animals aren’t just kept in cages like most other zoo’s. In fact, here at this zoo, they have specially created natural home environments fitting for each and every animal they have here.
The zoo also boasts some really impressive historical architectures as well. For instance you can find things like a traditional Kankan-tei treehouse, a decrepit front gate that is built in true Versailles fashion and also a huge 5 story tall pagoda.
Stroll Around Ueno Park
Ueno Park is one of Ueno’s most popular attractions. Located right next to the station, this park makes for a perfect place to relax while also having some fun. This park was one of the country’s first public parks, being established around the year of 1873. But what makes this park so popular is that it is home to many of the city’s top tourist attractions. You can find things like art galleries, museums, shrines and more all along the pathways of the park. No other park in the country or even the world can say they have as much attractions located in the them as Ueno Park does.
But it isn’t just the popular attractions located around the park that draws people here. This park also contains thousands of cherry blossom trees. And when it comes Spring time, these cherry blossoms will go into full bloom bringing in tourists and visitors from all over the world to see this beautiful event.
Shop At Kappabashi
If you love to cook, then one place you have to visit is Kappabashi. It is a shopping street located between Ueno and Asakusa which specializes in selling restaurant and kitchen equipment. You can find tons of shops all lined up around this street selling everything from pots and pans to even knives and other unique and interesting things. It is literally a paradise location for any and all cooks.
Take a stroll along the area and see exactly what influences the Japanese culture. And because it is in close proximity to major tourist attractions like Ueno Park and downtown Asakusa, you can always easily find this spot. You don’t even need to be a fan of kitchenware to appreciate how awesome this place is. And besides the shops selling kitchenware, you can also find a bunch of shops selling really delicious foods and snacks at a really low cost.
Plus once you finish checking out this area, you can head to the nearby Kappa-dera Temple and see how the locals are trying to appease the Kappas.
Check Out Nezu Shrine
What many people believe to have been constructed 1,900 years ago, Nezu Shrine is considered to be one of the oldest shrines in all of Japan. Not only that but several of the buildings located on the shrine grounds have been designated as important cultural property. It is described as being Tokyo’s most beautiful shrine, and for good reason too. You can find that the shrine is set in beautiful lush greenery, with ponds of carp all around, pathways that look like tunnels of small arches, and beautifully colored wooden structures that showcases Japanese culture at its finest.
One of the most famous features of this shrine is the path of vermilion torii through the hillside left of the main hall. In the middle of the path, you can find a viewing platform over a pond of koi, overlooking the main shrine precincts.
But in my opinion, it is most beautiful during the Spring time when the Shrine’s thousands of azaleas go into full bloom bringing in so much color and beauty to the rea.
Shop At Ameyoko
One of the best things about visiting a foreign country is to simply buy all the cool and unique things you can find. I mean who doesn’t like shopping for things? Now like we mentioned earlier, Kappabashi might be the place where you can get all your kitchen and restaurant needs, but if you are looking for everything else, then you’ll have to head to Ameyoko.
Ameyoko is Ueno’s premiere shopping area that is filled with all sorts of shops and vendors selling everything you can possibly imagine. Some of the things you can find here for instance includes clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, utensils, games and more. Plus you’ll also find a bunch of stores and vendors selling a bunch of delicious foods and snacks for you to eat. It’s a perfect place to visit if you want to learn more about Japan’s culture as well as experience something you’ll rarely find outside of the country.
View Some Art At The National Museum Of Western Art
Located in Ueno Park, The National Museum Of Western Art is the premier public art gallery in the country of Japan. It specializes in showing art pieces from American and European countries. You can find well over 4,500 works of art in this building, including examples of paintings and sculptures from the 14th through the early 20th century. Some of the works you can find here includes works by Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Moreau and more. They even have galleries that feature works by next generation of artists like Picasso, Pollock and Miro.
This place is so amazing that it was even designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2016. So if you love art and anything that deals with art, then you definitely need to come check this place out. The experience will be like nothing you have ever imagined.
Check Out The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Another Art Museum that is also located in Ueno Park is one called The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. It is one of Japan’s many museums which are supported by a prefectural government. Ever since its creation back in 1926, it has held countless amounts of galleries and exhibits for people to learn more about art. The exhibits vary depending on when you decide to visit the museum, but you can usually find works like paintings, sculptures, installations and even calligraphic works from modern day artists around the world.
Entrance to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is usually free, but for certain exhibitions inside you will have to pay a certain fee. But overall, the experience is totally worth it as you will get to see so many different kinds of beautiful artwork.
Buy Some Anime At Yamashiroya
if you’re a geek like me and love all things anime and games, then you definitely need to check out Yamashiroya. This place has six floors full of games, toys, model kits, and more all ready to fulfill all your wishes into reality. They even have a lot of Japanese exclusive things which you can’t find anywhere else outside of the country. It’s a very popular spot to visit as this store is almost always packed full of people. Even if you are not into geeky things, I’m almost positive you can still find something of value to you here in this building. So roam around the store, buy some items to bring back home, your family and friends will definitely be jealous of you.
Play With Cats At Neko Maru Café
As you know, Japan is filled with all sorts of unique and interesting pet cafes. But one of the best pet cafes is actually located in Ueno. Neko Maru Café is a pet café specializing in cats. With over 30 cats roaming around the entire place, this place is paradise for cat lovers. And unlike most other cafes where the building is actually small, this place is really spacious which allows you to comfortably enjoy your time playing with all the cats around you. Plus the staff is extremely friendly and helpful and it shows that they truly do care for the cats.
An hour long session with the cats typically costs around $9 dollars but is totally worth it as the cats are so nice and cuddly. Tea is also offered here so you can feel at ease while enjoying your time. And for returning customers, they even have a frequent customer card which can give you some special perks if you come often enough.
Overall it is a relaxing environment where you can have lots of fun playing with cats. It’s something you definitely need to experience since you can rarely find these types of cafes outside of the country.
Shop At Marui Department Store
If you aren’t in the mood to go shopping outdoors, you may prefer it better to shop at a department store. And one of the biggest department stores to shop at in Ueno is one called Marui Department Store. This place is located right across the street from Ueno Station, which makes it perfectly easy to find. It’s a 9 story building filled with all sorts of powerhouse brands for you to shop at. For instance, the first floor has cosmetics and features many popular brands in Tokyo. You can also find 2 different home goods stores here as well with Nitori being on the top floor and Muji being on the bottom. These 2 stores alone will allow you to buy almost everything you could ever need.
Plus this place also has many different restaurants for you to try as well as a high quality grocery store. Which means you don’t ever need to shop anywhere else as this department store literally has everything you could ever want.
Eat At Kamonka Ueno Bamboo Garden
If you are in the mood to get something to eat, I highly recommend you stop by Kamonka Ueno Bamboo Garden. This delicious restaurant is located only a few steps away from Ueno Park and is exceedingly good. The restaurant specializes in serving traditional Chinese dishes that will have your mouth drooling for more and more. For instance, some of their popular items include extra spicy stir-fried chicken, sesame dumplings and even almond jelly. You’ll notice that all of the foods are reasonably priced and the portions are pretty generous. The staff here are also extremely knowledgeable and friendly, most of which even knows how to speak English. So you can rest assured that you won’t have any problems when dining at this restaurant.
Visit Ueno Koreatown
Now I know what you are thinking, isn’t Shin Okubo the official Koreatown of Tokyo? Yes, it is! But there is also a lesser known Koreatown in Ueno as well. Located about a few minutes walk east of Ueno Station, you will come upon Ueno Koreatown. This place has been around for many decades and offers a truly authentic Korean experience. You can find many Korean shops selling interesting things or even Korean restaurants serving up some of the most delicious foods ever. It’s a truly refreshing experience that is vastly different from the rest of Ueno.
Check Out Shinobazu Pond
Located inside Ueno Park, the Shinobazu Pond is a perfect spot to visit for some relaxing atmosphere. Many locals and tourists all around bring their dates here as the scenery is just perfect. You won’t have any problems finding this place because the pond is so big and also right next to the famed Ueno Toshogu. And because the pond is so big, you can even rent out paddle boats over here to row around the pond. And if you are fortunate enough to be here during the times of July to August, then you might even be able to witness the lotus flower going into full bloom. Other than that, it is just a great area to stroll around in and sightsee all your surroundings.
Visit Ueno Toshogu
If you are ever in the country of Japan, then one thing you must do is to visit as many shrines as you can. And one of the most famous shrines is located in Ueno called Ueno Toshogu. This shrine was built back in 1627 and was dedicated to Tokugawa Leyasu. The shrine itself is amazingly beautiful as it is covered in gold and extremely shiny. And even though the shrine is many centuries old, it has always been taken cared of and looks just as perfect as it did when it was first created.
Now when visiting this shrine, entrance is always free but only for the outer portions. If you want to experience the inner workings of the shrine and also the flower garden, then you’ll have to pay a fee. The fee typically costs around $6 dollars for the garden and $10 dollars for both the garden and shrine, but it is an experience that will be totally worth it. Especially if you come here during certain times of the year when the pink flowers are in full bloom. It’s definitely an eye opening experience and one you should definitely not skip out on.
Visit Bentendo Temple
Located near the southern end of Ueno park on the island in Shinobazu Pond, you’ll find a temple called the Bentendo Temple. This temple is actually modeled after the floating Hogonji Temple of Chikufujima Island in the middle of the largest lake in Japan. Inside this temple you can find the goddess of good fortune, academics, the arts and relationships, Benzaiten is enshrined here for people to worship.
Plus around the temple, you will also find many unusual stone monuments which makes for a perfect picture opportunity. Overall it is a fun place to visit with your friends and family and see a bit of Japan’s ancient history.
Stroll Along To The Hanazonoinari Shrine
As you know, Kyoto is home to the famous Fushimi Inari shrine. But if you are unlucky enough to not be able to visit that location, then do not worry. Here in Ueno, there is a miniature replica version of it that will do just as well. Here you’ll find plenty of Vermilion Torii Gates for you to walk through and take pictures.
It makes for some great fun and adventure as you get to experience the thrills of wandering through these gates. Plus if you are looking for some good luck for your relationship, you are able to pick up some awesome talismans nearby to help with your good fortune.
Soak Your Foot At Momi No Yu
One of the most popular trends growing in popularity is to soak your foot in some soothing water. And the best place to do that is at the famed Momi No Yu, which has become a well sought after destination for many locals and foreigners alike. Once here, you can relax to the fullest by giving your foot a spa treatment. Basically you just put your foot into the hot spring like water and experience all the benefits it has to offer. And the cost of this place is very reasonable as it is completely dependent on how long you want to soak your foot for. But the best part about this is that they’ll even throw in a complimentary massage that lasts for 5 minutes.
Stroll Through Yanaka Cemetery
Located in Ueno, you will find one of the most famous graveyards in all of Japan. But to tell you the truth, it actually doesn’t feel like a graveyard but more like a park. With tons of plants and cherry trees around, it makes for a popular place to visit especially during the spring time to watch these flowers go into full bloom.
This graveyard which was founded back in 1872 is home to over 7,000 graves and is surrounded by trees, shrubs, gardens, and graves ranging from modern times to all the way back to the ancient eras. It has always been beautifully kept and decorated in a charming manner.
It is also the burial ground to one of Japans most celebrated figures in history, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, who is the last shogun of Japan.
This place makes for a perfect place to stroll around and take in the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds this area.
Pray To A Giant Buddhas Face
Did you know that you can go greet a Buddha here in Ueno? It’s true! Located inside Ueno park, you can find a really big Buddha face. The Buddha actually use to have a full body and be a full six meters tall, but during an earthquake in 1923 the head fell down. So now they only preserve the face for people to greet.
It is commonly said that if you touch the face of this Buddha that it will bring you good luck. The reason for this is because the face can’t drop down any further, which means your luck can only go up from here. It is a popular spot to visit especially among students who come here to pray for their entrance exams.
Check Out The SkyTree
Although not necessarily located in Ueno, it is only a short ride away by one of the many Skytree shuttles. Ueno is actually one of the best places to take this shuttle as the bus comes every 15 to 20 minutes and takes about 25 minutes to reach the Skytree. It’ll drop you off at the entrance so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.
Once you are at the Skytree, you can go up to the observation deck and see some of the most beautiful views the city of Tokyo has to offer.
As you can see, the district of Ueno has so many things to offer in terms of what you can see and do.
So hopefully this post about the “20 Best Things To Do In Ueno” was able to help you out in some sort of way. Hopefully next time you find yourself visiting Ueno, you will now know exactly what you want to see and do.
Also, if you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Japan posts.
- Tokyo – 20 Things To Do In Tokyo
- Osaka – 18 Amazing Things To Do In Osaka
- Kyoto – 14 Awesome Things To Do In Kyoto
- Japan – 20 Amazing Foods You Have To Try In Japan
Or you can check out my complete list of things to do in Japan by clicking here.
Let me know how your trip goes!