Ueno (上野) is a smaller district in northern Tokyo (東京). It offers broad cultural variety and also lots of nature. Ueno station (上野駅) is one of Tokyo’s major train station and is served by the JR Yamanote Line.
Right after leaving the station you will find the entrance to one of Tokyo’s biggest and prettiest parks, Ueno Park (公園).
Stroll along to find Ameyoko, where you can shop to your heart’s content.
Similar to Asakusa (浅草), this district has a bit more of the old-town flair that was once present in the past. Such areas are pretty hard to find in a city such as Tokyo, where modern gimmicks dominate the scene.
Let’s hop onto the list of 5 awesome things to do in Ueno, enjoy:
1. Ueno Park
One of those is the Tokyo National Museum, pretty much in the center of the park.
In early April/late March, when the Cherry Blossom season begins, this place gets SWARMED. I was there in March 2018 (24th) and there was a pleasant scenery already.
But it was so hard to walk through the park with such a mass of people. Seemingly every square centimeter was covered by blankets of a picnic.
Try to avoid the weekends if you’re going there!
Another great sight in Ueno Park is Tokyo’s first modern zoological garden. If you’re interested in its rich history and the general modernization of Japan, I recommend this book to you. It’s a good read and in about 350 pages, you can learn a lot about Japanese history, especially since the 19th century.
Note: This link is an affiliate link from which I earn a small commission should you purchase anything. There are no additional costs for you.
Ameyoko is short for “Ameya Yokocho” which literallery means “candy store alley”. This was the main purpose of this street back in the day and you can still find stores like that.
Today, “ame” is also interpreted as short for “America” because a lot of American products are sold here.
Other than that, it is your typical market street along the JR Yamanote Line.
Ameyoko stretches from Ueno Station all the way to Okachimachi Station (御徒町駅) along the train tracks.
In the Yanaka area, the old-town feeling that I described earlier comes off the strongest. Lots of older houses, traditional markets and temples.
It’s a short walk from Ueno Park, about 15 minutes from the Tokyo National Museum.
Major attractions include Yanaka Cemetery and Tennoji Temple.
4. Tokyo National Museum
Among Japan’s (日本) total list of national museums, the Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest one.
It was moved to Ueno Park a few years ago, leaving its original location of Yushima Seido Shrine, where it was established back in 1972.
In total, the museum’s collection of national art and historic artefacts exceed 100,000 pieces. About 4000 of those are on display at any given time.
The Tokyo National Museum is located in the heart of Ueno Park, roughly 10 minutes of walking from the Station.
5. Kappabashi Street
This is the culinary shopping street of Tokyo. Most of the stores here sell stuff related to restaurants or bars. Thus, many restaurant owners and chefs shop here regularly.
There are also a good number of stores that sell these very well made plastic samples of dishes that are often displayed in restaurant’s front windows.
Kappabashi Street is located between Ueno and Asakusa and is a 15-20 minute walk from Ueno Station.
Alternatively, you can board the Ginza Line headed towards Asakusa, but that would only save you 3-4 minutes or nothing at all, depending on your arrival time. I recommend walking!
How to get to Ueno
Ueno is a great place to visit if you’d like to see something a little different than Shinjuku or Shibuya. The little old-town feeling and amazing park make it worth your time, I promise!
It’s not far away from Tokyo Station, and even closer to Akihabara (秋葉原)! Asakusa is also right next to it so there are lots of possibilities to combine the visit with another district!
If you plan on coming to Ueno Park in April’s Cherry Blossom season, make sure to come very early if you want to sit under the trees! Else you’ll very likely be out of luck.
That’s it for Ueno! My personal highlights of the area.
Thank you very much for reading! Let me know if you found this article useful!