March 09, 2009


Ueno is one of the larger stations on the Yamanote Line, with shinkansen lines passing through as well as Tokyo commuter lines. Consequently there are several exits from the station, and for my visit to the area, I decided to take the Park Exit.
As the name suggests, the Park Exit takes you into Ueno Park, a large municipal park which is home to several museums and Ueno Zoo. However, if you wish to enjoy the cultural attractions, then you shouldn't go on a Monday as I did, since Monday is the day when museums are closed. Sadly, it's also my day off, so I miss out on some cultural aspects of Tokyo life as a result.
Poster in the park for an exhibit at the International Library of Children's Literature.
A large statue of a whale outside the National Science Museum.

Ryo-Daishi is a temple in the park grounds that is open on Mondays, so I could look around. It's a fairly impressive temple with some nice gardens, though it was deserted late on a Monday morning.

The main fountain in the park on the main path that takes you to all the museums. Stand too close and you'll get a shower.
The museums may have been closed but there was a Chinese circus act performing near the fountain. This performer most definitely had rubber limbs and undoubtedly spent her childhood doing hours of training.
The entrance to the zoo, with barely a soul in sight on a Monday.
Near the zoo, you can see the five-storey pagoda.
Next to the pagoda is Toshogu Shrine, which was packed with visitors when I visited last year.
A totem pole showing the way to the zoo, sponsored by the ubiquitous Lions Club.

Gojo Tenjinsha Shrine
Hanazono Inari Shrine
At the bottom end of the pond you can see the huge Shinobazu Pond, which has lots of reeds and wild birds as well as a boating pond.
Feeding the birds

Local council workers clear the weeds to maintain an area around the edge of the pond where the ducks, coots and other birds can swim.
Just south of Shinobazu Pond is Nakamachi Dori, lined with izakayas, dodgy bars and an entertainment district.
There's something for all tastes there. The English 'Undies Club' doesn't quite sound as exotic as the 'lingerie club' written in katakana however.
Nakamachi Dori leads on to the busy Chuo Dori, and beyond that there are several shopping streets, including the famous Ameya Yokocho, a market street which was a famous black market area after the war, and it's retained its shitamachi (downtown) feel ever since.

I only ventured halfway down these streets, because the next stop on the line is very close, and I wanted to make sure there was something left to see at Okachimachi.
So I did an about-turn and headed back towards the station, and walked over Asakusa side.

Showa Dori runs parallel to the station and is also known as Bike Town due to the huge number of bike showrooms and repair shops that line either side of the street.

First Rule of Flight Club: Politely inform your customers when the bar is closed.
Second Rule of Flight Club: Confuse any potential customers with your name and sign, when what in fact you do is sell bikes and run a bar on the floor above.
Unfortunately I had already stopped for lunch and a drink elsewhere, otherwise this interestingly named cafe could have been a contender for the 'coffee filter' section.
A shrine on Asakusa Dori

As the afternoon wore on the wind was getting increasingly strong and chilly, so I headed back towards the station, with the prospect of more fun wondering through the downtown area of Okachimachi for the next stop.

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