The Tour Starts at Park Exit from JR Ueno Station, at 9:00 a.m.
Ueno Station is known as the traditional northern gateway of Tokyo. The main building was constructed in 1932 and has a nostalgic atmosphere. It’s a large railway terminal for many JR lines. Tokyo Metro Hibiya line and Ginza line stop here as well. (Station No. for each, H17 and G16) Be careful not to go out the wrong exit. Take Park Exit for Ueno Zoo. Or, take Exit 7 for the slope to the street level.
Early Morning Is the Best Time for Family to Visit Ueno Zoo.
Ueno Zoo opens at 9:30. I arrive at the zoo early with my energetic kids, rubbing my drowsy eyes, and enter as soon as it’s open. It is less crowded than expected, so we can take time to see popular animals such as giant pandas, lions, tigers and Polar bear without the crowds. On top of that, early morning is the mealtime for the animals, and they are pretty active. It’s quite thrilling to see such lively animals.
First, giant pandas. They are super cute at mealtime! Sometimes they give us ‘why-are-you-staring-at-me?’ look, and it is so cute! Don’t miss this perfect shot!
Next, elephants. They trumpet amazingly, waiting to be fed.
The quiz about elephants, located between elephant house and Monkey Hill. Flip the panel for the answer.
Great photo spot! Carrying kids up the elephant’s back is kind of tough, though…
A comic foreground. Well, something’s wrong… (lol)!
Otters, fighting over food. That is spectacular! They swim around so freely.
A gorilla, draping a towel over his head somehow. He has the towel on even while eating…
Komomo (born in 2009), staring at the camera.
Another great photo spot. You can’t miss this spot after seeing gorillas.
Feed me noooow!
Once the zookeeper throws the food, the Polar bear starts swimming so elegantly. They are most active in the morning, and less active after that.
At ‘Nakayoshi-hiroba’ (petting zoo) within the Children’s Zoo, we interact with mice. I pat them gently, feeling their warmth. This is a nice experience for both kids and adults.
A bird called shoebill. This guy and I are staring at each other.
A giraffe, licking up the fence with its long tongue. OK. That’s it for the 2 hour walk in Ueno Zoo.
Head to ‘Shinobazu no Ike’ Pond for Swan Boat Ride!
In the Edo period, the Buddhist priest Tenkai created the pond modeling Lake Biwa. On the pond are many colorful Swan Boats floating.
You can see Tokyo Skytree from the pond.
‘Why is the water bubbling up?‘ ‘Is it an alligator or something?!’ The kids get so excited, since they have just seen the alligators at the Ueno Zoo Vivalium. But actually it is just the water purification equipment, we find out later.
You can pedal a swan boat backwards, but taking a wheel is harder than it looks. I nearly bump other boats several times!
It’s Almost 1:00 P.M. Let’s Have Lunch at ‘Niku-No-Ooyama’, the Butcher-Owned Restaurant.
This place was once introduced on TV. I love their meat dishes such as ‘Menchi-katsu’ (deep fried minced beef cutlet) and ‘Ham-katsu’(deep fried ham) are always great! Taste guaranteed! We are starving!
All we ordered was,'Aji-furai'(deep fried horse mackerel)(158yen),'Ham-katsu'(deep fried ham)(73yen),'Yamitsuki-menchi'('Addictive'deep fried minced cutlet)(105yen),Chicken-katsu(deep fried chicken)(157yen)and rice. That's enough for us!
Nothing can stop me!
Additional order for ‘Kushiyaki-no-kawa’ (spit-roasted chicken skin)(210 yen for 2). How can my stomache not be full yet?!
Then, Let’s Go Visit National Museum of Nature and Science.
Time to go home but my kids don’t want to yet….On the way to the museum, we find Statue of Takamori Saigo, the so-called last real ‘samurai’. I give my kids a brief history about him and other related things such as Edo shogunate, National Isolation, and Black Ships. With all my ‘crystal clear’ explanation, however, my kids don’t understand much and shower me with tons of questions! Whew!
Here We Are at National Museum of Nature and Science. (Finally!) I’m Already Exhausted.
This museum has a large collection of research results of nature and science. Kids are so excited at the special temporary exhibition called ‘Amazing Dinosaurs of the Gobi Desert’, which is to be held until Feb 23rd, 2014.（The exhibition is finished now.)
90% of the fossils discovered in the Gobi Desert are real and extremely well-preserved, with bones still connected to each other.
The skeltons of Tarbosaurs, Asia’s biggest carnivorous dinosaur, and Saurolophus, a large herbivore. They were so huge and spectacular!
Next, we visit ‘Chikyukan’ (Global Gallery). Their permanent exhibitions in this building are fun, too, with so much to see. The picture is the skelton of giraffe. It’s quite something to see, especially just after seeing a real giraffe at the zoo.
Outside the entrance of the Chikyukan is a life-sized replica of Blue Whale, the largest existing animal which is as big as dinosaurs. All right. That’s it for today’s family outing course in Ueno. I hope you like it.