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Ueno with kids: Visit the zoo, the science museum, or take a boat out on the pond


2019.05.30 (Thu)

Ueno Park is a great place to visit with children. These three spots are especially fun: the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Ueno Zoological Gardens, and Shinobazu Pond.

The National Museum of Nature and Science

This is of one the biggest science museums in Japan, located near the fountain in Ueno Park between the Tokyo National Museum and The National Museum of Western Art. You cannot miss it, just look for the life-size sculpture of a whale that looks like it is about to dive down in front of the building. Inside there are over 10,000 exhibits that let you discover life on earth as well as outer space. In the Global Gallery you can learn a lot of interesting facts about our earth and the Japan Gallery focuses on Japan’s climate, geography, and nature. This is a great place to visit on a rainy day.

The current special exhibition “Mammals 2 - Struggle for Life” is open until June 16, 2019. The museum’s 2010 exhibition “Mammals – Creatures of the Land/Creatures of the Sea” was very popular and this year’s new mammal exhibition shows how animals manage to live and bring up their young. Over 400 types of mammals are introduced using taxidermy and skeleton specimens as well as films.

Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:00, 9:00 - 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays (last entry 30 minutes before closing). Closed on Mondays.

Fee: Adults 1600 yen; high School, junior high, and elementary school students 600 yen

The National Museum of Nature and Science:

Ueno Zoological Gardens

This is the oldest zoo in Japan founded in 1882 and it is famous in Japan for its giant panda bears. In June 2017 baby panda Xiang Xiang was born and quickly became the new star of the zoo. Besides animals from all over the world you can also see a lot of Japanese animals at the zoo such as Japanese black bears, Japanese macaque monkeys, and birds of Tokyo. The zoo has two sections that are connected by a short monorail. It is a fun way to see Ueno Park from a new perspective. There is also a petting zoo where small kids can get close to the animals.

Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:30 (tickets sold until 16:00). Closed on Mondays.

Fee: Adults 600 yen (65 and older 300 yen), students 200 yen, children 0-12 free

Ueno Zoological Gardens:

Shinobazu Pond

This is the most relaxed part of Ueno Zoo. Take a walk around the pond and see how many carps, turtles, and ducks you can spot. Lotus grow on one section of the pond and many people visit to photograph their big green leaves and beautiful flowers that blossom in the summer. The other parts of Shinobazu are duck ponds, one a haven for actually ducks and other waterbirds and the other home to a flock of small boats shaped like swans. In the boating area you can rent rowing boats, pedal boats, and swan boats. Rentals are for 30 minutes or more. This is a fun break from walking around Ueno Park.

Fun fact: Ueno Zoo’s pandas have inspired a whole range of goods being sold in the Ueno area, including cute foods like panda breads, donuts, and cupcakes. Check the shops around Ueno Station and catch a sweet panda snack.

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