fun things to do with kids ueno park tokyo japan   Travel for Kids
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Tokyo – Ueno Park (Ueno Koen)

Ueno Park Tokyo

Ueno Park originally was part of the huge Kan'ei-ji temple complex, established by the second Tokugawa shogun in the early 17th century. Today the park is many things in one, where kids can view spiffy samurai armor and exquisite kimonos at the Tokyo National Museum, visit a shrine for Tokugawa Ieyasu, go pedal boating, check out macaques at the Ueno Zoo, and eat ice cream or snacks next to Shinobazu Pond, covered with giant lotus plants. In spring, Ueno Park is a popular locale for cherry blossom viewing picnics.

    Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo National Museum
    Honkan Japanese Art Museum This museum is an excellent introduction to Japanese arts and culture. On the first floor is ancient Japanese sculpture, such as painted wooden figures from the 13th century, the "Twelve Heavenly Generals," and a dramatic Ragaraja with red face, and six arms, surrounded by a halo of flames.
    Go up the second floor for samurai armor, swords, helmets, Noh costumes and masks, gorgeous kimono and hair ornaments from the Edo period, painted folding screens, lacquered boxes, scrolls with mythical animals, and ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints.
      The museum shop in the basement is a good place to shop for fans, postcards, cookies, and other kid-friendly souvenirs.
Ueno Zoo
  Ueno Zoo – The oldest zoo in Japan, it's a zoo on a small scale. Check out the Japanese animals – birds of Tokyo, deer, birds, cranes, macaques, Japanese black and brown bears, and pelicans and cormorants in the pond. There's a petting zoo with goats and miniature horses, and it's fun to take the short .3 km monorail ride from the East Garden to West Garden.
    Ueno Kodomo Yuen – Next to the zoo is a small amusement park with colorful characters and rides that are fun for younger kids.
    Playground Across from the amusement park, toddlers and their parents can relax in the small playground. The playground has climbing structures, slides and benches.
    Tosho-gu Shrine – This shrine, built in 1627, is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun in Edo. The path to the main shrine hall is lined with 200 large stone lanterns on either side, then 50 copper lanterns, which were gifts from the daimyos. Not all the copper lanterns are alike – tops, grillwork, and animals decorating the base are different. (The lanterns are used for sacred fires and purification.) There are also two large statues of lion-dogs (komainu), which protect the shrine against evil spirits.
    Tip: Across from the shrine, we saw four adorable cats – tortise shell, black and white, and carmel and white, and dark brown. They were playing in the sunshine and seemed quite happy.
Shinobazu Pond
  Shinobazu Pond – In summer, or even early autumn, Shinobazu Pond is covered with huge lotus plants, and gorgeous pink blooms when the lotus plants flower. There's always lots of carp in the water, and plenty of birds (so relaxing to hear the sounds of birds in the middle of the city) – bring your picnic lunch and sit out next to the pond.
    Benten-do – Walk over the causeway to an island, with a shrine to Benten, Shinto goddess of good luck. The interior of the shrine is decorated with lovely autumn scenes and a painted dragon on the ceiling. If you step inside the shrine, be sure to take off your shoes.
    Boat pond – Go west on the causeway from Benten-do, around to the west side of the lake, to the boat pond. Here you can rent colorful pedal boats (a yellow swan?) and row boats, and take a turn around the pond. This is also perfect for cherry blossom viewing.
    Shitamachi Museum – If kids haven't had a chance to visit the Fukagawa Edo Museum, the Shitamachi Museum is also a place to see how ordinary people lived in centuries past. Walk through a narrow row of tenement hours, past the communal well, peek into a coppersmith's workshop, a merchant's factory for traditional footwear, a candy shop. Upstairs, kids can play with traditional children's toys and games.
      Pick up the English-language booklet which explains the exhibits. The museum is closed on Monday.
    Throughout the park are cafes for cold drinks, ice cream and snacks (even a Starbucks).
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