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The Giant Pandas of Ueno Zoo

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Japan’s first zoo was established in Ueno Park, in 1882. Although its age is starting to show, the zoo is still a popular retreat in Tokyo. It’s inexpensive, surprisingly large and, of course, there are those irresistible Giant Pandas.

Ueno Zoo In Tokyo

I was excited to get into the zoo, because I’d never seen Giant Pandas before. Lili and Shinshin would be my first, and we arrived right on time to see them do what they do best: eat. It was lunchtime, and the pair were just digging into a heaping pile of bamboo. A gift from China, they arrived in Tokyo in 2011, and have been Ueno’s star attractions ever since.

The pandas are kept in pens directly at the entrance, and we feared that the rest of the zoo wouldn’t be able to live up to such a grand opening. To tell the truth, it didn’t. There are some other fun animals, including the most playful polar bear I’ve ever seen, and a couple of adorable red pandas, but nothing else was nearly as exciting as the Giant Pandas.

Also, Ueno is not among the most modern or comfortable zoos we’ve ever visited. That’s to be expected, I suppose; it dates from an era in which humans didn’t pay all that much attention to animal welfare. The pens are often woefully inadequate, particularly for some of the larger birds, and none of the animals have a lot of space to enjoy.

But Ueno Zoo is big, and if you can put your sympathy on hold, you could easily spend hours here. Just the opportunity to experience wildlife in the middle of the big city is worth something, and besides, it’s almost impossible to pass up the chance to see Giant Pandas like Lili and Shinshin.

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So Many Cute Panda Things From Japan

Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
Ueno Zoo In Tokyo
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June 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm Comments (0)

Sakura, Sakura: The Cherry Blossoms of Tokyo

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For a short period at the beginning of April, the word “sakura” becomes a prominent noun in approximately 75% of the sentences spoken in Tokyo. Because when the city’s cherry trees bloom, there’s no talking about anything else. You’re either chatting about the blossoms, planning your picnic in the park, sitting in a rowboat under the trees, or strolling along a path while the petals flutter to the ground like the sweetest, most fragrant snowfall imaginable.

We celebrated the season by visiting a variety of Tokyo’s most popular viewing spots. Parks, paths, cemeteries… anywhere a cherry tree grew, we found people assembled around it. During these few, fleeting days, Tokyo becomes a more magical place.

Meguro River Sakura
The Meguro River

Our first sakura excursion was to the southwestern neighborhood of Meguro, where a foul-smelling river winds its way toward Tokyo Bay. Cherry trees line the banks of the Meguro, and a couple well-placed bridges provide perfect views of the blossoms. Here, we got our first taste of the massive crowds which turn out for the sakuras. We were shocked, and a little annoyed by the hundreds of photographers jostling along the bridges for a prime position. Little did we know that Meguro would be by far the least congested spot on our itinerary. [26 More Photos | Location]

Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery

One of the biggest cemeteries in Tokyo, Aoyama is famous for its cherry blossoms. Sakuras are a harbinger of winter’s end and a return to life, and their blossoming above a field of graves lends their celebrated beauty a certain symbolic weight. [34 More Photos | Location]

Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park

After Ueno Park, Chidorigafuchi is the most popular spot in Tokyo for viewing the cherry blossoms. This winding channel was part of the moat which once protected the Imperial Palace, and today sports an impenetrable wall of cherry trees. A walk along the waterside and over the pedestrian bridge into Kitanomaru Park has become an essential Tokyo experience. The crowds are wearying, but should you make it to Kitanomaru, you can reward yourself with an extended nap under the blossoms. At least, that’s what we did. [57 More Photos | Location]

Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijōji

We had thought that Kichijōji’s Inokashira Park, fifteen kilometers to the west of the city center, would have less daunting crowds. Hah! We visited the park on Saturday, when the hamami (flower viewing parties) were truly getting underway, and every inch of ground was occupied by people enjoying elaborate, sake-soaked picnics.

We hadn’t been invited to a party, and I was jealous of the intoxicated fun everyone was having, but we joined in as well as possible by grabbing beer and bento-boxes from a nearby restaurant, and renting a row-boat. Traffic on the pond was crazy, and smashing into other boats was both unavoidable and hilarious, but we eventually steered ourselves to a prime location underneath a gorgeous cherry tree, where we enjoyed our meals with a view of the pond through a veil of falling petals. [32 More Photos | Location]

Sakura Sumida River Park
Sumida River Park

After spending the day in Inokashira, we returned to the city and went to the Sumida River Park near Asakusa for the evening. The trees along the bank were illuminated and the river itself was glowing with the traffic of colorful pleasure boats. There was a younger crowd here, playing music on guitars and getting progressively rowdier as the evening wore on. It looked like most of the revelers planned on sleeping outside; in fact, but by the time we left, many were already passed out. [11 More Photos | Location]

Sakura Ueno Park
Ueno Park

The atmosphere on Saturday had been one of drunken revelry, so we weren’t surprised to find that Sunday in Ueno Park was decidedly hungover. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, but this didn’t stop people from congregating in the thousands. The cherry blossoms which had arrived a mere week ago were starting to collect on the ground, and the party was winding down.

That was fine by us; we were suffering from sakura-overdose, and had visited Ueno more out of a sense of duty than pleasure. Despite our flagging energy, we didn’t want to miss the city’s most famous cherry blossom spot, and say farewell to a cultural phenomenon, the likes of which we wouldn’t soon be forgetting. [28 More Photos | Location]

Book Your Tokyo Hotel Now For The Next Sakura Season

More Photos from the Meguro River
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura
Meguro River Sakura

More Photos from Aoyama Cemetery
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo
Aoyama Cemetery Sakura Tokyo

More Photos from Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park
Sakura Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park

More Photos from Inokashira Park in Kichij?ji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Inokashira Park in Kichij?jo

More Photos from the Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park
Sakura Sumida River Park

More Photos from Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
Sakura Ueno Park
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April 9, 2014 at 10:58 am Comments (12)
The Giant Pandas of Ueno Zoo Japan's first zoo was established in Ueno Park, in 1882. Although its age is starting to show, the zoo is still a popular retreat in Tokyo. It's inexpensive, surprisingly large and, of course, there are those irresistible Giant Pandas.
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