Search results for 'ueno'

New Alpaca at Ueno Zoo

2 Jan

Do you know what an アルパカ (alpaca) is?

It’s a South American animal that looks alot like a llama.

They also look kinda similar to that giant flying doglike character in the ’80s movie “The Never Ending Story“.

From the movie "The Never Ending Story".

 

Earlier this year, 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) in Tokyo got a brown female アルパカ (alpaca) named 「モコ」 (“Moko“).

「モコちゃん」 (“Moko“) was alone, so a few weeks ago 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) got another female アルパカ (alpaca) to live in the same pen as 「モコ」 (“Moko“).

This new アルパカ (alpaca) is white.

Photo: © Tokyo Zoological Park Society

 

The zoo asked the public to vote on a name for this new アルパカ (alpaca).

The results of the vote were:

「灯」 (“Akari“) got 216 votes,

「ポコ」 (“Poko“) got 198 votes,

「フゥ」 (“Fuu“) got 129 votes, and

「ユラ」 (“Yura“) got 112votes.

So 「モコ」 (Moko)’s new roommate is 「灯」 (Akari)…it means “light” (as opposed to “dark”).

「モコ」 (Moko), brown and 「灯」 (Akari), white(Photos: © Tokyo Zoological Park Society)

Photos: © Tokyo Zoological Park Society

 

アルパカ (alpaca) are kinda cute, don’t you think?

If you want to see them, you can visit them at 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) in Tokyo.

Ueno Hanami

3 Apr

One of the most popular places to go for 花見 (Cherry-Blossom Viewing) in Tokyo is Ueno.

Close up of Sakura in Ueno.

We decided to go there yesterday before the end of Sakura season came (which is soon…when Sakura bloom, they don’t stay long).

Here is a video of the Sakura trees and the crowd appreciating the view:

And here’s another video of the Sakura petals falling in the breeze like snow falling:

We were lucky because while we were there we happened to catch a お稚児さん(O-chigo-san) procession.

This is a parade of Buddist monks and local children dressed up in special kimono and make-up to bless the opening of a new temple.

(My kids actually did this once a number of years ago).

Here’s a video we took of the O-chigo-san in Ueno yesterday (The monks who are wearing what appear to be baskets on their heads are hiding their unshaven heads before Buddah. This looks odd even to most Japanese people)

Anyways, here it is:

Quarter Century!

17 Oct

On 1990 October 17th, I came to Japan from America. Twenty-five years ago today!
I have been living in Japan longer than I lived in the U.S.

Twenty-five years already! 1990 doesn’t feel like it was all that long ago…but twenty-five before 1990 was 1965 and that was before I was even born! America saw a lot of changes between 1965 and 1990…and Japan has seen many changes since 1990.

I wrote a post on this date last year and told about some of the many changes I’ve seen in Japan since I first arrived.
(Click here to read it.)

In this post, to mark the quarter-century that I’ve been living in Japan, I decided to list (in no particular order) twenty-five reasons that I love living in Tokyo. (Many of them have to do with the fact that Japan is a very safe place to raise children!)

    1. No guns – I dislike guns and see no reason for “common people” to own one. In Japan, only the military, the police and hunters (after passing an extensive testing and screening procedure) legally have guns. The Japanese police are armed, but very rarely draw their weapon…it would be an absolute last resort.So, there aren’t shootings in Japan. I witnessed a deadly shooting at my high school in Florida when I was a teenager…that’s something I never wanted my children to experience.
    2. Low crime rate – Tokyo is a huge, densely-populated metropolitan city…but still has very little crime.
    3. Punctuality – Everything and everyone is on time. Trains, and even city buses, arrive on the scheduled time. Almost 100% of the time.
    4. Convenient – There are so many stores, restaurants, and services in Tokyo! You can get anything you need…without going too far.
    5. Health care – Health insurance in Japan pays for 70% of hospital, clinic, dental and ambulance costs.
    6. School system – I wrote a post about how I feel that Japanese schools are better than American ones.
    7. Prices – Many people have an image that Japan is very expensive. But, in my experience, it’s mostly cheaper than America! Amusement parks, movie tickets, groceries, restaurant meals, haircuts, and on and on are all similarly priced, or even cheaper than, in America! Gasoline is about the only thing priced lower in America.
    8. Restaurants – The restaurants in Japan are well-known for being the best! Everything from fast-food to family restaurants to gourmet establishments all have excellent food and service. There are more Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo than any other city in the world!
    9. Convenience stores – Japanese convenience stores are great! You can get beer, whiskey, snacks, hot meals, and more 24 hours a day. But also…you can buy postage stamps, concert tickets, mail packages, pay bills, and use an ATM.
    10. Vending machines – Japanese vending machines are everywhere and they sell all kinds of things: hot drinks and cold drinks (such as tea, coffee, water, juice, cola and beer), umbrellas, stamps, snacks, fruit, and much more. They accept payment by coin, ¥1000 bill (about US$10), cell-phone, or IC card. Many have digital displays that show the weather forecast and use facial recognition to recommend a drink.
    11. Kindness -Even in a big city such as Tokyo, you can often see acts of kindness shown to others.
    12. Thoughtfulness – Japanese people are very good at considering other people’s feelings, and that makes living in a densely populated city much easier.
    13. Politeness – Japanese are well-known for their politeness.
    14. Sightseeing – Modern architecture, traditional castles, shrines and temples, and beautiful nature…Japan has a lot to see.
    15. Amusement parks – Japan has all kinds of amusement parks…big, small, water parks, and theme parks. Probably most well-know is Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea…they’re the only Disney parks in the world that aren’t owned by Disney. Rather, they’re owned by a Japanese company and licensed from Disney. Tokyo Disneyland is actually a lot cheaper than Florida’s Disney World!
    16. Service – Service is always top-notch in Japan. Even at fast-food restaurants and convenience stores!
    17. Quality – Even Daiso (Japan’s version of a “dollar store”) sells quality merchandise.
    18. Statues and robotsGundam (both a statue and a “life-size” robot), Statue of Liberty, Godzilla, Hachiko, and so many more. I’ve written many posts, with photos…click here.
    19. Four seasons – I grew up in Florida. There’s no snow, no colorful autumn leaves…basically only one season there. I know many places in the world have four seasons…but many don’t. And in Tokyo, each season is an even 1/4 of the year. And each season in Japan is so unique!
    20. Festivals – There are so many excellent festivals in Japan! I’m a member of a great one! (Click here to see photos).
    21. Museums – Museums of art, Japan’s history, ramen, cartoon characters, beetles, and so many more! They’re all so interesting!
    22. Peaceful and quiet – Tokyo can be noisy, but generally, Japan (even the big cities such as Tokyo) are nice and quiet! Have you ever ridden a train in Japan. Most people don’t talk…and the ones who are talking do so quietly. It’s nice.
    23. No tipping – Not restaurants, not hotels, nor barbers or taxis. Leaving a tip isn’t done in Japan.
    24. Unique areas – Different cities and areas of Japan are unique. But, not only that…even in Tokyo, the different areas are unique. Ginza, Akihabara, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno, etc…what do you want to do or buy? There’s a section of Tokyo that’s best for whatever you’re looking for.
    25. Never boring – I have been living in Japan for twenty-five years now…and I still enjoy going out and about.

Night Zoo

11 Aug

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.

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「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).

Break time

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.

パンダ (Panda)

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)

Sleeping seals.

The sun was setting and “Night Zoo” began.

 

Tokyo with kids…

4 Feb

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

KiddylandOne 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-sizeGundam” robot.

gundam

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:

都民の日

1 Oct

Today (October 1st) is 「都民の日」 (Tokyo Residents’ Day).

I wrote about this day last year (Click here to read it).

Students in Tokyo have the day off today, and public zoos, aquariums and museums offer free admission today (private ones normally don’t).

If you’re in Tokyo and you want to go somewhere free (and don’t mind the inevitable crowd)…here’s a list of places in Tokyo offering free admission on October 1st every year (there may be others…these are the ones I remember off hand):

Koishikawa Korakuen
Tama Zoo
Ueno Zoo
Tokyo Sea Life Park
Inokashira Zoo
Yumenoshima Greenhouse
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

Hanami

24 Mar

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:

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Tokyo Residents Day

1 Oct

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).

Summer Festivals

29 Aug

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.

Baby panda born in Tokyo zoo

6 Jul

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.

So sad!

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