If you want to explore an area in Tokyo for around 4-5 hours, I would recommend Ueno because it is such a hugeee place to roam around. You can have time for nature (and ZOOO), museums, shopping, eating and so much more. And you can walk to Akihabara (Tokyo’s Electric Town) if you get bored too, haha.
When my friend Abbey arrived from airport, we only had the rest of the afternoon to go exploring. I didn’t drag her to go to Shibuya / Harajuku / and the like because I know that for a first-timer, she would definitely want to spend a whole day in Harajuku + Shibuya area. You could say that “Ueno” is a good starter for a Tokyo trip.
Fresh from Narita, we decided to stop by Ueno first. There are lockers inside the train stations and we decided to leave Abbey’s luggage inside the Keisei station area. (From Narita, we took the “regular” train because it’s cheaper. More info about this here.)
Ueno (上野) is a district in Tokyo‘s Taitō Ward, best known as the home of Ueno Station and Ueno Park. Ueno is also home to some of Tokyo’s finest cultural sites, including the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, and the National Museum of Nature and Science, as well as a major public concert hall. Many Buddhisttemples are in the area, including the Bentendo temple dedicated to goddess Benzaiten, on an island inShinobazu Pond. The Kan’ei-ji, a major temple of the Tokugawashoguns, stood in this area, and its pagoda is now within the grounds of the Ueno Zoo. Nearby is the Ueno Tōshōgū, a Shinto shrine to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Near the Tokyo National Museum there is The International Library of Children’s Literature. Just south of the station is the Ameya-yokochō, a street market district that evolved out of an open-air black market that sprung up after World War II. Just east is the Ueno motorcycle district, with English-speaking staff available in some stores.
Ueno is part of the historical Shitamachi (literally “low city”) district of Japan, a working class area rather than where the aristocrats and rich merchants lived. Today the immediate area, due to its close proximity to a major transportation hub, retains high land value but just a short walk away to the east or north reveals some of the less glitzy architecture of Tokyo.
Ueno Park and Ueno Station are also home to a large percentage of Tokyo’s homeless population. Though nearly invisible in other parts of Tokyo, the homeless population in Ueno can be found sleeping or communing in large numbers around the “ike” (ponds) of this district.
Source: www. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ueno,_Tokyo
Never miss out on any kawaii bread! Make sure to take one kawaii panda with you, haha!
While walking around, I found this English guide with all the information. I think that this is a great guide for tourists!
When in Ueno for the first time, I highly suggest Shitamachi Museum. I’ve been there once and it’s a great place to have fun learning about historical Shitamachi.
This museum was established to teach future generations about the culture of the shitamachi. The shitamachi was originally an area of Edo* where the common people lived. The word shitamachi is composed of the word shita meaning “down” and machi meaning “town,” and one can often see it translated into English literally as “downtown.” However, shitamachi is not the same as the English word downtown, which refers to a city’s central businessdistrict. The shitamachi name originated from the actual level of the land in the area.
In Edo, the land to the south-east of Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace) was lowlands, and the land to the north-west was a plateau, and during the formative years of the city, the lowlands became the place where artisans and merchants lived. This lowlands area near Edo Castle became known as shitamachi. There were many unique qualities that defined the shitamachi and still exercise an influence over the area today. For example, the shitamachi’s high population density resulted in the building of crowded tenement houses called nagaya. These nagaya were made of wood and built very close together, which rendered the region highly susceptible to fire.This living environment bred a people with a unique disposition and way of life. The culture of the shitamachi is the culture of Tokyo’s common people, and it contributed greatly to the culture of Edo just as it contributes to Tokyo as a city today.
People’s lifestyles change when their living environment changes, and old culture is naturally lost over time. In 1868, Edo was renamed Tokyo and the city began to modernize, but traces of the old ways remained in the shitamachi. The massive destruction caused by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the wartime fires of 1945, and the reconstruction following these disasters are what really changed Tokyo. The 1960s saw a development boom spurred on by the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, and this era also saw a dramatic increase in the use of electric appliances, all which further sped the degree of change in the city. The initial movement for the establishment of this museum began during that time.
During this period of rapid change the people did gain convenience and comfort, but they began to lose or forget many other things. The desire to somehow preserve these things for future generations was the basis for founding the museum. Many supporters from within Taito-ku and beyond contributed a variety of items, and the Shitamachi Museum opened in 1980.