March 4th- Tokyo – PART ONE
I woke up early but took my time getting ready. I only was using wifi at this point to plan out my day so I screen shot all the maps and information I need from my phone to have when I don’t have data or wifi. It’s very helpful.
I decided to go to Ueno Park, which has 3 art museums, the Tokyo National Museum, a Science Museum, a couple temples and a Zoo. The park itself was only a 10 minute walk from my hostel and the day was warm despite the cloudy sky. The park is huge and absolutely beautiful! I spent the first hour just walking around the park and snapping photos.
I stumbled upon one shrine called Toshogu Shrine and took some time taking photos and drawing one of the statues that I saw there. The area was lovely, the temple itself features lanterns to those contributing to the temple.
It also houses the flame of peace. A flame said to be kept burning eternally for peace and for the end to all nuclear war. The flame is said to originally be brought from Hiroshima. Unfortunatly it looked like the rain recently put out the flame since it wasn’t burning.
Afterward I headed for the zoo.
After reading some reviews online saying the zoo was small I thought I would be able to visit the Zoo and the Tokyo Museum in one day. I don’t know what zoos those people had been to but the Ueno Zoo was NOT small. It’s spread out over two sections on either side of a main road and I spent about 5 hours there. Granted I take longer then most people, because I draw the animals and take my time, but it was a lot of walking! Overall I had a great day and really enjoyed my time there. This was my first time going to a zoo outside the US and there were SO many animals that I had never seen or heard of before! I have two favorite moments of the day:
My first favorite moment of the day was at the Polar Bear exhibit. The design of the exhibit is lovely, there are portions above the exhibit looking down, as well as a huge underground portion that allows you to be at eye level and underwater with the polar bear. As they feed him/her they slowly throw the food into different parts of the exhibit, so no matter where you are you can get some great shots. Of the Polar Bear diving into the water for food and climbing and jumping to catch it as it’s thrown. Really cool and something I’ve never seen before. Got some pretty good video footage to share. =]
My second favorite moment of the day was seeing one of the most beautiful animals I’ve ever seen. I had never even heard of it before. It’s called the maned wolf, although apparently it’s not related to the wolf. It looks like a cross between a fox, hyena, and wolf. When I thought it I thought it looked more like an animal made from fantasy than an actual animal. Unfortunately it’s cage was poorly designed and I couldn’t get any decent pictures but here’s one that sort of shows it:
Overall I had a great time! Below is the review of the zoo that I posted to Trip Advisor in case you’re interested in a more formal opinion!: (feel free to skip to the end for some more pictures!)
I really enjoy visiting zoos everywhere I go so going to the Ueno Zoo was a must!
I originally thought I would only spend a short time there but I ended up spending over 5 hours! I be fair I take my time and draw the animals as I go but the park itself is large and spread out over two sections. They have many animals that I have never seen or heard of before which was really cool. (I’ve been to many American zoos all over the US) I think it was well worth the 600 yen entrance fee and while it’s not a must see if you’re only in Tokyo for a short time, I would definitely recommend it for someone who has the time to explore. I would reccommend going toward the end of the day, as they start to feed the animals and it’s really entertaining to see them so active- especially at the polar bear exhibit! Where he/she was diving into the water to catch food as it was being thrown.
Since I don’t like to visit zoos that don’t treat their animals well I would like to address a couple comments that were made by previous users that almost made me not visit. As mentioned in previous posts in the older sections of the zoo some of the cages are small and you can tell they are old style (you can’t get pictures without bars), however the newer exhibits are really nicely designed. I would like to point out that at least 5 exhibits were under construction and maintenance during my visit so I think it’s clear they are slowly renovating to make the exhibits better for the animals and guests. Also while some of the animals were pacing it was clear they have an animal enrichment program, as many of the animals had toys and the lioness was happily tearing away at a box that I’m assuming had food inside. The animals look healthy and happy.
Some more photos to end the day: