First shrine/temple visits in Japan to celebrate the New Year is called Hatsumode. The locals visit and offer prayers, draw their luck with omikuji (fortune-telling paper strips), or wish for good luck by writing hopes and desires in a wooden charm called ema.
Ueno has become my travel getaway during my short stays in Tokyo this year. The night life in Ueno is quiet and relaxing compared to its neighboring districts – Asakusa and Akihabara, where tourists flock to see the Senso-ji Temple and the Anime haven.
While Asakusa and Akihabara is famous for their own charms, Ueno exhibits numerous temples, shrines, museums and zoo. The famous Ueno Park, a spacious public park is just a few meters away from the Ueno Station.
Hydrangeas bloom during summer in Japan, it can be commonly seen in parks and in the temple gardens. If the spring season has the cherry blossom tree, hydrangeas captivates the locals and tourists alike during summer.
After a few minutes of walk through the south of the park, I came across the Tokyo National Museum, some tourists are taking a tour with their guide even in this kind of weather.
The drizzle gave me a hard time to take photos of the Museum, with an umbrella, a camera and a bottle of cider I must say that the struggle is real. I gave up taking another shot after my umbrella failed to resist the gust of the wind and I wasn’t able to control my grasp anymore.
After capturing this photo of the gate leading to the Kaneiji Temple, I quickly walked away when I heard someone said “dare desu ka?” or something along the line after the shutter of my camera clicked. I thought the caretakers near the gate were bothered by the sound.
If ever you are planning on visiting Ueno Park, I’d recommend you wearing your most comfy shoes because walking around the park requires a great amount of vitality. With all the attractions the park can offer to you, I bet spending time with every spot will consume your energy.
As for me, I hadn’t have enough rest from the hotel after visiting Asakusa and my body is slowly giving up on me and because I had the nerve to continue my adventure to Akihabara (I walked all the way to Akiba because I’m afraid I’d get lost riding trains), I almost didn’t want to come back to the hotel thinking about the distance between Akiba and Ueno (I promise I’ll ride the train next time!).
Ameya yokocho is a shopping street filled with various items – foods, clothing, footwear, gadgets. Imported products can also be bought here, you just have to ask the locals about the exact location because the stalls are underground. Yay for the tax-free shops!
Tip: Always bring your passport (tourist passport, that is) for every time you purchase in tax-free shops, you will be exempted from paying the tax.
During my first visit in Ueno, I didn’t realize that there is a Tokyo University nearby, I’m glad I was able to visit Japan’s most prestigious university on my third visit in Tokyo with my friend!
After walking for about 30 mins from the Ueno Station ( I didn’t realize it was so far that me and my friend almost dragged our feet just to reach this famous Todai) we arrived in one of the branches of Tokyo University located in Bunkyo-ku, just a few meters away from the station.
We would not be able to arrive in Tokyo University map without the internet + gps locator app! However the scorching heat of the sun didn’t meet our travel expectations, if only we can grab a taxi to reach our destination (we’re very frugal with spending our money orz). It took us about 3-4 stops in convenience stores before arriving here. But it’s all worth it!
I have to say that I felt safe and comfortable with my travels while in Tokyo, considering that I walk alone at night when I get back to the hotel. Whenever I go to Tokyo, Ueno will be the first place that I consider staying in. Ueno will always have a special place in my heart.