Have you ever heard of the Tokyo neighbourhood, Ueno? Are you thinking about visiting this unique area of Tokyo or even staying in Ueno, and wondering what are some things to do, places to visit and restaurants to check out?
There are so many neighbourhoods and areas in Tokyo. Besides the famous towns like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku, there are many incredible places and spots in Tokyo that are worth a visit. If you’re looking to visit a local neighbourhood and check out some hidden gems, Ueno might be a great place to check out. In this Ueno area guide, let’s have a look at what to do in Ueno, where to eat and drink in Ueno, where to stay in Ueno and some hidden gems in the area.
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What is Ueno?
Ueno is a popular tourist destination in Tokyo, with museums, a lovely park noted for its cherry blossoms, and other thrilling activities. The Ueno district of Tokyo is a popular weekend leisure destination for both tourists and locals. It is home to several fantastic attractions, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the world-famous Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo and a plethora of additional recreational opportunities for both adults and children.
Thousands of people flock to Ueno Park in the spring to enjoy a picnic under the cherry blossoms, making it one of Tokyo’s most popular cherry blossom viewing places.
There are also various shrines and local commercial areas where visitors can get a taste of Japanese culture. Located in the Taito ward in eastern Tokyo, Ueno is also considered the shitamachi, or traditional downtown of Tokyo, since the Edo era. This neighbourhood holds a historical significance that visitors can feel and appreciate firsthand by simply strolling down the streets.
Things to do in Ueno?
Ueno Park, Japan’s first public park, is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Ueno Zoo, Shinobazu Pond, and various museums are all located within the 53,000-square-metre park, making it possible to spend a full day browsing and visiting attractions. The activities here are especially appealing to guests of all ages because they are family-friendly and engaging.
During the cherry blossom season in April and May, the park becomes painted in beautiful shades of pink as the trees bloom, gathering crowds of visitors coming to relax under the sakura.
Hanazono Inari Shrine
Hanazono Inari Shrine is a shrine located in Ueno Park. It is a well-known matchmaking power spot and is popular with people looking to boost their love luck. With its red Senbon Torii, or thousand torii gates, the entrance makes a strong first impression. Numerous torii keep guard at the entrance, forming an impressive promenade. This location is conveniently located within Ueno Park.
Ameyoko – Everyone’s Favourite Shopping Street
Ameyoko, Ueno’s lively shopping strip, is well-known as one of the city’s defining locations, attracting large crowds on weekends. Ameyoko began as a black market during WWII, but it has since evolved into a popular shopping district with a lively ambiance. The market is appealing because of its low costs and large selection of things for sale.
Everything from fresh groceries to clothing and cosmetics may be found here. There are also numerous food vendors lining Ameyoko. Those with a sweet tooth should try matcha ice cream at Cha no Kiminoen or dorayaki, a classic Japanese confection filled with red bean paste.
Ueno Zoo is home to many animal species unique to Japan, such as the Yezo deer, native to Hokkaido, and the adorable Japanese squirrel. If you are coming to Ueno, definitely take the time to visit to see these rare animals.
Another reason to visit Ueno Zoo is to see Riri, Shinshin, and Shanshan, Tokyo’s world-famous pandas. Their endearing mannerisms and cute expressions are captivating and heart-melting. The popularity of these furry creatures has also resulted in a large supply of panda-themed foods, and merchandise for sale in the Ueno Zoo and surrounding area that make perfect gifts and souvenirs.
Bentendo Temple at Shinobazu Pond
Bentendo Temple, located in Ueno Park, is a Buddhist temple, home to Benzaiten, a goddess associated with education, art, wealth, and matchmaking. Built in the middle of Shinobazu Pond, the temple has a floating, ethereal appearance, and its colourful hexagonal tower is visible from far away.
Tokyo National Museum – The Best Place to Learn about Japan’s History and Art
Those with an interest in the arts and history shouldn’t miss out on the Tokyo National Museum, which is located within the Ueno Park grounds. Offering a wide collection of over 110,000 pieces of artwork and cultural assets, dropping into this museum is a great way to educate yourself about the arts in Japan.
Among the displays, visitors will find samurai armour, intricately-painted traditional folding screens, and Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints. The museum also includes art and historical artefacts from other Asian countries.
Takeya – A Popular Shopping Mall
Takeya is a big retail mall that spans eight buildings and houses a wide range of Japanese brands and goods. Compared to Ameyoko, Takeya offers a unique shopping experience, both in terms of store structure and merchandise available for purchase.
Each building has its own theme, making it easy to find what you’re looking for right away. Takeya also offers free WiFi for its customers. It operates as a duty-free store, which makes it a convenient and popular spot for those travelling from outside Japan with a foreign passport.
Kurand Sake Market – Taste Japanese Sake
The Kurand Sake Market in Ueno offers an unlimited tasting menu of roughly one hundred types of sake brewed in various parts of Japan for individuals interested in drinking Japanese sake but aren’t sure where to begin. This is a fantastic opportunity to sample a variety of sake flavours in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.
The venue even holds events where customers can meet and casually chat with brewers to learn more about the sake craft. You can make an advance reservation online or show up on the day you want to enter, but keep in mind that spots are limited.
The National Museum of Western Art
This museum was established in 1959 and centred around the Matsukata collection
The collection housed impressionist paintings and the sculptures of Auguste Rodin. These masterpieces, as well as others from the Renaissance to the twentieth century, are still on display today. The structure itself is a significant structure designed by renowned French architect Le Corbusier. The structure was erected after WWII to symbolise the continuation of France’s ties with Japan. The National Museum of Western Art provides everyday Japanese citizens with the opportunity to observe and appreciate western art and culture.
The Shitamachi Museum was founded as a historical landmark to teach and preserve shitamachi culture. Shitamachi literally translates as “downtown,” although this is not the same as “downtown.” Its name comes from the fact that these shitamachi residents live in the lowlands. The museum’s first floor has a recreation of a street from this era, with visitors able to walk down the street and into the residences and businesses. The museum’s second floor gives visitors a more in-depth insight at shitamachi life through preserved records and actual household goods from the historical period, with one exhibit devoted to the numerous toys that children would play with.
Kyu Iwasaki-Tei Gardens
Located within the grounds of ueno park lie Kyu Iwasaki-Tei Gardens. This being the former residence of the iwasaki family, one of Japan’s most powerful business families and founders of mitsubishi. The gardens house various buildings of different cultures such as a swiss billiard room, and the house itself being in a pennsylvanian and jacobean style.
Ueno Tosho-gu 上野東照宮
A shrine built in 1627 to enshrine Ieyasu Tokugawa (Tosho Daigongen). Yoshimune Tokugawa and Yoshinobu Tokugawa are also deities. Located in Ueno Onshi Park. Since the renovation in 1651, it has survived the disappearance due to natural disasters and war damage, and it is a valuable spot where you can see the full-scale Edo architecture that retains the remnants of those days up close. The shrine is luxuriously made of gold leaf and is also called the “golden hall”. There is a peony garden in the precincts, and the “peony festival” held in the spring is famous.
A temple built by the Tenkai Daimonsho in 1625. Initially, it had a vast site centred around the current Ueno Park area, but during the Boshin War, the Shogitai Corps of the former Shogunate Army stood in the precincts and became the stage of the so-called “Ueno War”. Most of it burned down. Furthermore, the land was confiscated during the Meiji era. It is also one of the Tokugawa family’s family temples, and six generals are buried in the mausoleum of successive Tokugawa shoguns in the precincts.
This temple first opened its doors in 1534. It is adorned with carvings by great craftsmen from the Edo Period, Uncho Ishikawa and Shoshu Kanno. The brightly coloured carvings on the ceiling, in particular, are a must-see.
Kiyomizu Kannon-dō 清水観音堂
A stage-built hall built in 1631. It is said that Enryakuji, a priest of Jiyoku Daishi, opened Toeizan Kaneiji Temple at the demon gate of Edo Castle in analogy to the relationship between Heiankyo and Mt. Hiei built this Kannon-do as if it were Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto. In the 7th year of Genroku (1694), he moved from Mt. Suribachi in Ueno Park to his present location. The principal image is the Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu, which was relocated from Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto. Since the child-rearing Kannon is enshrined in Wakison, it is also popular as a child-giving, easy delivery, and child-rearing Kannon.
Shimura Shoten 志村商店
A store specialising in chocolate confectionery with dashing shouts. The shop is marked by a yellow sign and sells chocolate, which can be said to be a specialty of “Ueno Ameya Yoko”. The appearance of stuffing chocolate one after another with a smooth mouth is one of the most popular performances of Ameya Yoko. They sell a lot of sweets that would cost more than 2000 yen if bought individually. At stores that are crowded with people every day, it is recommended that you enjoy it together while putting your hands together.
Shitamachi Museum 台東区立下町風俗資料館
Until the Meiji and Taisho eras, there were remnants of Edo in downtown Tokyo. However, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the war damage of 1945 left almost no trace of the Edo period. After the war, the area underwent a remarkable recovery, and especially in the late 1950s, the area underwent a complete transformation as redevelopment was aggressively promoted with the Tokyo Olympics as an impetus.
People’s lifestyles also changed with the times, and instead of adopting convenience, the important things of the old days were being forgotten.
It was in the 1965’s that people began to voice their concern over the loss of the good old downtown culture. This gradually spread among people who loved the downtown area, and eventually, the idea of establishing a museum to pass on the important memories of the downtown area, the history of the common people, to the next generation was born.
To make this happen, many valuable materials were donated from inside and outside of Taito City.
After many years of hard work, the Taito City Shitamachi Museum of Folklore was opened on October 1, 1980, right next to Shinobazunoike Pond. The first floor features a life-size reproduction of a Taisho period merchant house and row houses, while the second floor contains materials related to Taito City and a toy corner.
Restaurants in Ueno
This authentic Chinese restaurant is within a 2-minute walk from Okachimachi Station and serves Chinese “Mala Soup.” The dish “Mala Soup ” is made of harusame in a spicy soup. Customers can choose from a variety of noodles and toppings, as well as the level of spice in their dish. Customers must first choose which toppings they want, then select three components from a showcase. Customers then make their final selections at the counter, specifying the type of noodles and level of spiciness, then wait for it to be prepared and served.
Uogashi Nihon-Ichi is only a 4-minute walk from Okachimachi Station, this sushi restaurant offers high-quality, fresh sushi at reasonable costs. The explanation for the restaurant’s low prices is simple: it’s one of only a few restaurants with rights to participate in the auction at Tsukiji Market, the world’s most famous fish market.
Sha Tom Yum Kung Pochana
This Thai restaurant is located down Youth Road Ueno, a shopping strip that stretches all the way to Okachimachi Station and is only a minute’s walk from Ueno Station’s Shinobazu Gate. Because the chef is Thai, all of the clients can taste delectable, original Thai cuisine. At both lunch and evening, this restaurant is always packed with patrons. The Tom Yum Lunch, a hot and sour shrimp soup, is a recommended item on the lunch menu. It’s served with rice and dessert, as well as a vegetable salad.
Only a 2-minute walk from Okachimachi Station, this sukiyaki (hot pot stew) and shabu-shabu speciality restaurant seeks to give clients high-quality meat cuisine at reasonable costs. The Olive Yumebuta is one of the dishes presented that cost less than 1,000 Yen. The pork in this dish comes from pigs bred on Shikoku Island’s Kagawa Prefecture. Because there are so many olive trees in this location, olives are put into the pigs’ meal. The meat from these healthy pigs has a rich, sweet, and refreshing flavour, as well as a strong umami component. This restaurant’s sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are both fantastic!
Only a 1-minute walk from Mikawashima Station, this café specialises in delectable meat dishes. For 1,000 Yen they have a range of meat meals such as Wagyu meat, Iberian Pork and Kuro Kuro meat! The Roast Beef donburi is the most popular dish. Rice is topped with a mound of finely sliced, luscious roast beef in this meal, which is only offered for lunch. Customers are advised to eat the beef and rice as is before pouring the delectable beef and bone broth over the remainder of the rice and steak.
Iriya Kaigan Shonan Shokudou
This Italian restaurant, which is only a 4-minute walk from Ueno Station’s Iriya Gate, offers a wide range of dishes produced using ingredients farmed in Shonan, Kanagawa Prefecture. Because of its proximity to the sea and mountains, the soil in this area is rich in minerals. The aroma and flavour of “Kamakura veggies” grown in this mineral-rich soil are well-known. The Kamakura Yasai Keema Curry, which is popular due to its abundance of Kamakura vegetables, is one of the major courses for the Lunch A Course.
Accommodation in Ueno
Mimaru Tokyo Ueno East
Situated in Tokyo, within 400 m of Hozenji Temple and 500 m of Myojun-ji Temple, MIMARU TOKYO UENO EAST features accommodation with free WiFi throughout the property. The property is set 1.5 km from Gate of Former Residence of Koda Rohan, 1.5 km from Front gate of Honobo In Kanei-ji Temple and 1.7 km from Shunsho-in Temple. The property is 8 km from the city centre and 1.8 km from Tozen-in Temple.
The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a kettle, a microwave, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. At MIMARU TOKYO UENO EAST the rooms have bed linen and towels.
Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Ryukoku-ji Temple, Genryu-in Temple and Ecute Ueno Shopping Mall. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 30 km from MIMARU TOKYO UENO EAST.
Address: 110-0015 Tokyo-to, Taito-ku Higashiueno 4-26-3, Japan
Hotel Resol Ueno
Ideally located in the Taito district of Tokyo, Hotel Resol Ueno is set less than 1 km from Myojun-ji Temple, an 11-minute walk from Ryukoku-ji Temple and less than 1 km from The Shitaya Shrine. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The property is close to popular attractions like Gate of Former Residence of Koda Rohan, Front gate of Honobo In Kanei-ji Temple and Ecute Ueno Shopping Mall.
A à la carte breakfast is available every morning at the hotel. Popular points of interest near Hotel Resol Ueno include Saigo Takamori Statue, Atre Ueno Shopping Mall and Ueno Royal Museum. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 30 km from the accommodation.
Address: 110-0005 Tokyo-to, Taito-ku Ueno 7-2-9, Japan
Sutton place hotel Ueno
Attractively situated in the Taito district of Tokyo, Sutton Place Hotel Ueno is situated 200 m from Ecute Ueno Shopping Mall, 300 m from Front gate of Honobo In Kanei-ji Temple and 300 m from Gate of Former Residence of Koda Rohan. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel has family rooms.
Popular points of interest near the hotel include Ryukoku-ji Temple, Atre Ueno Shopping Mall and Hozenji Temple. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 18 km from Sutton Place Hotel Ueno.
Address: 110-0005 Tokyo-to, Taito-ku Ueno 7-8-23, Japan
Grids Tokyo Ueno Hostel
New opening in the great location which is 2 minutes from Ueno station (Iriya exit) in 2019, Octber! It is unique area where life style and art are mixed. It is accessible to tourist spots such as Asakusa,Akihabara,etc… We are fully equipped with shared kitchen for long-stay travelers. We also have cafe & bar that is open for everyone. You can enjyo interacting with travelers from all over the world.
Address: 7 Chome-10-4 Ueno, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0005
Ueno has so much to offer that it would be impossible to visit everywhere in a few days. Hope you get to check out the museums and restaurants for yourself and like them as much as we do. Refer to this blog anytime for more ideas and activities to do in the Meguro ward. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us anytime.