Ueno Zoo, Tokyo
Updated: 6 days ago
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I can't remember the last time I've been to a zoo, and I'm not generally the biggest fan of seeing animals in zoos. Still, I understand that zoos have their purpose such as protecting and researching endangered species such as the Giant Pandas.
Ueno Zoo is Japan's oldest modern zoo. It was founded in 1882 and it houses 3000 animals from 300 different species.
A five-minute walk from Ueno Station, the zoo is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 am to 5 pm and closed on Mondays and from the 29th of December to the 1st of January. Admission is 600 Yen for adults, and free for children under 12.
After queueing for a few minutes to get into the zoo, I queued again for around an hour to see Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei, the twin pandas born at Ueno Zoo. As you enter the Panda enclosure, you only have one or two minutes maximum to look at these fascinating creatures and to take a few pictures as well (all without flash). Considering there are only a few zoos where you can see giant pandas, I think it was worth it.
I'm not sure if the queues are smaller usually or if seeing the pandas is a quicker process, but I happened to be there on the Zoo's Anniversary Day (March 20) when admission is free. I didn't know that previously, and only found out when I got to the gates and saw the big sign.
I already had the day planned out so I just continued and accepted the fact that it will just be busier than I anticipated.
After seeing the pandas I spent around 30 minutes quickly looking at the flamingoes, penguins, elephants, giraffes and monkeys, after which I spent probably longer than that at the gift shop.
The gift shop is packed with cute animal-themed plush toys, notepads, keyrings, backpacks and so on. If you're looking for small gifts for kids of all ages as well as adults, I'm pretty sure you will find something suitable for everyone.
After I was done shopping, I made my way to the Thai Pavilion (or Sala Thai) which is a gift from the Royal Thai Government, marking 120 years of friendship and close diplomatic relations between Japan and Thailand.
A short walk from the Thai Pavillion there is the beautiful five-story pagoda of Kanenji Temple. It was originally built in 1631, it burnt down and was rebuilt in 1639.
In all honesty, I probably spent more time admiring the pagodas and checking out the gift shop, than I did seeing any of the animals which is probably why I recommend Ueno Zoo on my '20 amazing attractions to visit in Tokyo' list.
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Have you ever been to the Ueno Zoo? If so, how was your experience?
I hope life is treating you well.