Ueno Zoo. The most established (since 1882) and popular zoo in Japan. It’s located at Ueno Park, around the neighborhood where we stayed. We have walked past the entrance of the zoo for more than 15 times during the trip before deciding to go in.
I first noticed the existence of the zoo from watching Hana Yori Dango, where Domyouji and Makino went for their double date with Yuki and her douchebag boyfriend and I confess — it’s purely the reason we went in (apart from the fact that I had the Grutto Pass, which means that admission was free).
In the park, you’ll most likely see groups of kindergarten kids on a field trip and students from the middle and high schools checking out the zoo (it’s amazing to see kids hanging out at education areas like museums and zoos after school, by choice).
The good stuff
The zoo is actually huge and there’s a lot to see — there are are 2600 animals representing 400+ species. The zoo is divided in two compounds and to get to one side to the other, you’ll need to take the monorail (which costs ¥300 one trip hmph).
Main attraction? The giant panda!
Kids will love the zoo. They’ll also meet Asna’s friends.
The zoo is easily accessible and the fee is very affordable, too (more details below).
The not so good stuff
Since I’ve been to spacious animal sanctuaries in Melbourne (which are by far, of better standards), where animals are allowed to roam in huge enclosures, I thought that some of the enclosures at the Ueno Zoo were ridiculously too small and their condition, rather dated and depressing for the animals. For several times, I felt so bad for the animals for being kept where they were — I don’t have the heart to post the pictures here. There’s a lot that the management could do to upgrade their facilities.
That said, the zoo is enjoyable if you don’t think too much…
Admission: ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for kids (we entered permanent exhibition for free thanks to our Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass)
Opening hours: 9:30AM to 5:30PM
Access: Get down at Ueno Station and walk towards the zoo
Read more about the Ueno Zoological Gardens.