After continuous days wandering between skyscrapers and malls’ districts, the desire can appear to take some fresh air and see something else for half a day. This goal in mind, Ueno Zoo appears as a perfect alternative, thanks to its pandas, stars of the neighborhood and represented everywhere as soon as you arrive at the train station.
Located in the heart of Ueno Park, the zoo is the reference for a family outing in this area. And even if you are no longer a child, you can still be amazed in front of cute animals, by looking at the tiger’s big claws or the size of the gorilla's paws!
But the true celebrities here are Ri Ri and Shin Shin, the two giant pandas arrived in 2011. Maybe they will be three soon: it was everyone’s hope in Japan back then! The baby panda was finally born in June 2017. It was introduced to the public for the first time on December 19 the same year. The wait was so intense that a lottery was set up to determine those who would be able to meet it. In March 2018, 9,500 tickets were being sold everyday to come seeing baby Xiang Xiang and it is advised to arrive well before the morning opening hour to enjoy your visit... and also to be patient.
Anyway, they are so loved that it is not surprising to have a long waiting line to see them, and mostly, the audience can't stop and stare at their enclosure: the line must keep moving. There are many people coming for them while they seem not to care at all. You might even just see a small black and white piece of fur in the background of the cage.
The zoo is fully integrated in Ueno Park, one of Tokyo's most popular attractions, which can easily make you busy for hours as it is quite huge and get very crowded when the cherry blossom season reaches its peak. A lot of species are waiting for you there. Pandas of course, and also a tiger, a lion and its lionesses, a polar bear, gorillas and even penguins for the rarest, not to mention many other ones: more than 450 types of animals live there year-round. However, their environment is often criticized; with living space too narrow and a hardly bearable heat in summer.
How to get to Ueno Zoo
By JR train or Tokyo Metro -- Yamanote, Ginza or Hibiya lines, Ueno station (G16 or H17), and a 10-minute walk accross the park for 800 meters to the zoo
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 278)
- Adults: 600¥ (~US$ 5.50)
- Senior (over 65): 300¥ (~US$ 2.80)
- Middle school: 200¥ (~US$ 1.80)
- Children: free
Free on March 20, May 4 and October 1st
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 5pm (last entrance at 4pm)
Closed on Mondays and from December 29th to January 1st
How long / when to visit
One to several hours
Avoid holidays to reduce the crowd
上野動物園 (Ueno Dôbutsuen)