My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: October 11, 2019
Ueno is unusual; on the one hand, there's the spacious, historic park, boasting world-class museums, a zoo, a tree-lined pond and some major shrines. Then there's the narrow maze of cheap eats and stalls selling everything from fresh fish to vintage watches, and a booming mini-Koreatown. Every turn promises a new adventure.
During cherry blossom season, Ueno Park draws thousands to walk and carouse under its pink clouds of blossoms. You can easily spend a day here visiting the various museums dedicated to art, science and traditional artifacts; or just watch the world go by from one of the many outdoor cafés.
The large pond is divided into three, with tree-lined walkways between. The Lotus Pond blooms with pink flowers in summer and the Boat Pond is popular in all seasons for rowboat and swan boat rentals. Visit Bentendo Temple on its own island and drop by the Shitamachi Museum, for a taste of traditional downtown life.
At the close of WWII this maze of shopping streets and market stalls was Tokyo's black market. Today, the stores are legitimate, but it retains a raffish air. You can find anything here, from traditional seaweed and green tea, to vintage jeans and the latest sneakers.