One week in August, Ueno Zoo in Tokyo has a “Night Zoo” event. We went to it yesterday. We’ve been to it before too (click here to see my post about it in 2011).
Before we went to the zoo, we stopped for lunch at 東京駅 (Tokyo Station):
An 「駅弁」 (Train station “bento”) shop. Have you ever had a Japanese “bento”?
You can watch them preparing the bento meals.
The 「銀の鈴」 (“Silver Bell”) in Tokyo Station…a popular meeting spot.
「チキンラーメン」 (“Chicken Ramen”)
The one on the left says 「有休とります」 (“I’m gonna take a holiday”) to give your boss or co-workers. The other says 「ごめんね」 (“I’m sorry”) to give someone as an apology.
The Ultraman Shop’s “manager”.
The less-photographed entrance of 東京駅 (Tokyo Station).
The popular Japanese cartoon character “Doraemon” in the small children’s mini-amusement park outside Ueno Zoo.
I have many memories of taking my kids to this 「こども遊園地」 (Kids’ Amusement Park) when they were little.
The entrance to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. We went to the zoo in the afternoon and stayed until the end of the “Night Zoo” event.
We could see the pandas eating, rather than sleeping – as they usually are.
シンシン (メス) … (“Shin-Shin” the female panda).
リーリー (オス) …. (“Ri-Ri” the male panda).
The polar bear was a highlight for us because it was feeding time when we happened to go to that exhibit…and also, Ueno Zoo has added a new viewing area where we could watch him swim!
Huge ゾウガメ (Giant Tortoise)
コビトカバ (Pygmy Hippo)
The sun was setting and “Night Zoo” began.
I’m often contacted by parents in various countries who are planning to visit Tokyo with their children…and ask me for suggestions for places to take them in this city.
So I thought it would be helpful for people who are planning to visit Tokyo with kids if I wrote a post with some places that are popular with kids in Tokyo.
So, in no particular order, here is a brief list of places in Tokyo to take kids:
– Tokyo Disneyland and/or Tokyo Disney Sea
– Kiddyland – One of the giant toy stores in Tokyo. In Omotesando, near Harajuku.
– Yamashiroya – Another giant toy store. Near Ueno train station.
– Hakuhinkan – This giant toy store is in Ginza.
– Odaiba – A driverless train takes you to this part of Tokyo. Has a shopping center, cat-cafe, bicycle rental, a Statue of Liberty like the one in New York…but smaller, and a life-size “Gundam” robot.
– Children’s Castle
– Zoos and/or Aquariums – There are many excellent zoos and aquariums in and around Tokyo. This site tells the government-owned ones in Tokyo limits…there are more than these.
– Tokyo Tower
– Tokyo Sky Tree – At 634 meters tall, it’s the world’s tallest tower. It’s within walking distance of Asakusa.
I also sometimes give inexpensive (not much more than the cost of my train fare) walking tours of Tokyo to foreign visitors, when my schedule allows.
Feel free to contact me with this form if you need more information:
Yesterday, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park) for 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing). 桜 (Cherry Blossom) season has just begun. Having a picnic under the trees in bloom is a popular pasttime in Japan. Ueno Park is a very popular place for Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tokyo … so it was very crowded yesterday when we went. Here are some photos I took:
All prefectures and wards in Japan have a “Residents Day”.
Wards (similar to U.S. counties) normally have a festival for their Residents Day … and prefectures (similar to U.S. states) usually give kids the day off from school and that prefecture’s zoos and museums offer free admission.
Today (October 1st) is 都民の日 (Tokyo Residents Day).
Normally zoos and museums in Japan are closed on Mondays.
Today is a Monday, but Tokyo’s two government-owned zoos (Ueno Zoo and Tama Zoo) are open today and admission is free.
The zoos in Japan always on Mondays if it’s a holiday (though free only on a few days a year)…but they close the day after the holiday — so Tokyo’s zoos will be closed tomorrow (October 2nd).
A typhoon hit the Tokyo area yesterday but the weather is nice today, so the zoos are sure to be crowded today.
So if you’re in Tokyo now, and you don’t mind a crowd, you can go to one of Tokyo’s zoos for free today (I recommend Tama Zoo but it’s not as conveniently located as Ueno Zoo).
Just don’t plan to go to a zoo or museum in Tokyo tomorrow … they’ll be closed (the ones in the neighboring prefectures are closed today but will be open tomorrow … as usual).
Earlier this month, I participated in one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals.
(Click here to read that post.)
There are many great festivals all year round…but especially so in the summer.
(Click here to see a list I made of some of Tokyo’s best festivals.)
I like Japan’s festivals a lot…and I go to many of them.
In early August, my family and I went to watch a summer 花火大会 (fireworks show) near our house that we usually go to every year.
The 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan are excellent! If you have a chance, you should see one!
(Here is a list of some of Tokyo’s biggest fireworks shows.)
It’s not easy to photograph fireworks with the camera I have…but here are a few that I took:
花火 (“hanabi”)…literally “flower (of) fire”, is the Japanese word for “fireworks”.
We also went to a festival at a temple not far from the Tokyo Sky Tree.
After that, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park):
(Click here to see some other photos I took in Ueno a couple of years ago.)
If you have any questions about festivals in Tokyo, things to do in this city, or whatever…feel free to contact me.
Yesterday (2012 July 5th), Shin-Shin, the female Giant Panda at Tokyo’s 上野動物園 (Ueno Zoo) gave birth to a baby.
The proud mother, Shin-Shin, in Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo.
(Photo from the Ueno Zoo website).
This is the first time that a panda has been born in a zoo in Japan in twenty-four years.
That means that the last time a panda was born here was in 1988…two years before I came to Japan.
So, this is big news and Ueno Zoo will surely be full of visitors hoping to see the baby panda.
Edited on 2012 July 12: It was announced that the newborn baby panda died of pneumonia yesterday.
Yesterday my wife and I went to a special “Machu-Picchu” exhibit at a museum in Tokyo.
Have you heard of Machu Picchu ?
They are an ancient Inka ruins in Peru that wasn’t known to the Spanish when they invaded South America…therefore it wasn’t plundered when it was discovered by an American archaeologist in 1912.
Since this year is the one-hundred anniversary of the discovery of Machu-Picchu, the 「国立科学博物館」 (National Science Museum) has a special exhibit about the Inka people and Machu-Picchu, titled 「マチュピチュ発見100年インカ帝国展」 (“The Inka Empire, 100 Years after the Machu-Picchu Discovery”).
The flyer for the special “Machu-Picchu” exhibit.
Among the items in this collection, you can see actual mummies and a short twelve-minute 3-D movie that takes you “into” Machu-Picchu.
This exhibit can be seen at the 「国立科学博物館」 (National Science Museum), not far from 上野駅 (Ueno train station) in Tokyo until Sunday, 2012 June 24th.