As well as being Japan's oldest zoo, the Ueno Zoological Gardens (or simply Ueno Zoo) has achieved legendary status in Japan for its giant pandas and success at breeding them. Besides the pandas, you'll have the opportunity to see an extensive collection of animal species, from Sumatran tigers and Indian lions to western lowland gorillas, South American tapirs and polar bears.
Home to over 3,000 animals from 400 different species, Ueno Zoo is Japan's oldest zoo, founded in 1882. The zoo, attached to the north of Ueno Park, is split into two sections, a west and east park with varying collections of animals. The two areas are connected by a short monorail.
In the east area you'll find Japan's most famous couple, the giant pandas Ri Ri and Shin Shin and their cub Xiang Xiang. Also in the east park are Asiatic elephants, a wide collection of bears and greater mammals such as gorillas, tigers and lions.
The west area is home to the petting zoo, which is a must-visit if you have young kids who'd like to get hands-on with the animals. The west park also focuses on animals from the African continent: rhinos, hippos, giraffes and zebras, and is home to the Small Mammal House and Reptile and Amphibian House.
You'll find a five-story pagoda and 17th-century teahouse in the east half of the park. While the facilities are not open to the public for tea ceremony, they add a suitably Japanese touch to this historic zoo.