50 Things to Do in Ueno, Tokyo’s Fusion District of the Old and the New, in 2018

  • UENO
  • Ueno is a lively district on the east side of Tokyo, packed full of shops, restaurants, and arcades. With a mix of shopping and nature, temples and shrines, it’s a fusion of the historical and the modern. Endless markets and shopping streets greet you on your way to the enthralling Ueno Park, which is perfect during cherry blossom season and a haven for nature lovers who want to be close to the city. If you plan to visit this charming district, take a look at these 50 things to do in Ueno!

    For more things to do in other areas, check this list out!
    Would you like to stay in Ueno? Check out all the hotels in the area here!

    1. Discover old Ueno at Ueno Park


    In a small vicinity is a number of museums, including the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo National Museum, and the National Science Museum. On your trip to Ueno, you can’t miss the historical beauty all around you. This tour will show you some of the old temples and architecture in the area.

    Booking details: Discover Beautiful Old Town in Tokyo

    2. Play with Squirrel Monkeys in a Bar


    You may have heard of cat cafes or even dog cafes, but did you know there’s a squirrel monkey cafe in Ueno? With the below package, you won’t only be able to visit the monkey bar but also have a 5-course set meal including a two-hour all-you-can-drink deal! There is also an option to feed the monkeys if you wish. Have an unforgettable evening eating, drinking, and hanging out with these cute animals.

    Booking details: Enjoy playing with Squirrel monkeys at a bar in Ueno, Tokyo

    3. Get a Tattoo

    Always wanted to get a tattoo? How about a traditional Japanese tattoo? This artist in Ueno is offering professional Japanese tattoos! Why don’t you get something special to remember your trip to Japan?

    Booking details: Get Tattooed in Ueno, Tokyo!

    4. Join an Ueno Park Architecture Tour


    If you’re interested in the architecture around the Ueno area, consider taking a tour to see all the best spots for impressive buildings and structures. A guide can tell you all about the area’s history and even get to walk through Ueno’s beautiful torii gate tunnel.

    Booking details: Join a Ueno Park Architecture Tour

    5. Visit the Best Bakeries in Ueno and Yanaka


    Ueno is home to some delicious bakeries. The below tour introduces you to three recommended eateries in Yanaka and Ueno. You’ll also get to learn a bit of history about the places and how bakeries came to be so popular in modern Japan.

    Booking details: Discover hidden bakeries on a Bakery Tour in Yanaka & Ueno!

    6. Pet Cute Kitties at Cat Bar Neko


    Cat cafes are popular in Tokyo, and cat Bar Neko is one of the most popular out there. Why not visit this adorable little cafe and meet their sweet kittens? This place is perfect for cat lovers! Reserve your table below.

    Booking details: Reservation for the cat Bar Neko, Tokyo!

    7. Go Bar Hopping


    If you’d like to go drinking in Tokyo, Ueno is a great place full of bars and Japanese izakayas! A local is offering the chance to go bar hopping to their favorite places so that you can get a real local experience! Check out the tour below!

    Booking details: Enjoy Bar Hopping in local Ueno with a Bar Hopping Master!

    8. Take a Cherry Blossoms Tour


    If you visit Tokyo during cherry blossom season (mid-March to mid-April), Ueno is a fantastic place to see these pink flowers. Ueno Park and Kaneiji Temple, in particular, are worth seeing. The tour below offers both, plus other areas to see the cherry blossoms during their short blooming season.

    Booking details: Go on a sakura cherry blossoms tour around Ueno!

    9. Make Your own Necklace


    A shop in Japan is offering the unique experience of making your very own pearl necklace! You can choose your own shape and size of pearl, make it yourself and take it home. This fun activity is family-friendly and great for rainy days.

    Booking details: Make Your Own Pearl Necklace in Ueno

    10. Check Out Ueno Zoo

    Ueno Zoo is one of the most famous zoos in Japan. It’s conveniently located in the centre of Ueno Park and features many exciting animals such as rhinos, okapis, aye-ayes, and pandas! It’s a great place to visit if you’re a family with animal-loving children.

    Ueno Zoo website

    11. Visit the National Science Museum

    Ueno is a hotspot for museums, and the National Science Museum, also called the National Museum of Nature and Science, is considered one of the best. This fascinating place has permanent exhibitions of history and nature of the Japanese islands, techniques in observing them, and a botanical garden. There are also special exhibitions available throughout the year, so be sure to check their website before you go.

    National Science Museum website

    12. Explore the Madness of Ameyoko Shopping Street

    Ameyoko por la mañana ❤️ #japan #japon #ameyoko

    A post shared by Sinueton (@sinueton.insta) on

    Ameyoko is one of Tokyo’s famous shopping streets and it’s easy to get lost in this maze of different stores! You can get all kinds of unique street treats such as fresh seafood, gadgets, clothes, souvenirs, and much more. If you have an hour or so to spare, venture down this exciting street and see what treasure you can find! It gets quite busy on weekends, so it’s recommended you visit during the week if possible.

    Ameyoko website

    13. Ride a Boat on Shinobazu Pond

    If you’re in Ueno on a sunny day, taking a short boat ride on Shinobazu Pond, which is more like a small lake than a pond, is a lovely way to spend an afternoon if you’re out on a date! The pond is close to the park, and easy to spot.


    14. See Artworks the Tokyo National Museum

    This is the museum to see some fantastic Japanese art, statues, and cultural heritage. The museum boasts over 600 artworks including paitings, sculptures, archaelogy, and calligraphy. It’s a great place to go if you’re interested in Japanese history and art, and shouldn’t be missed from your itinerary.

    Tokyo National Museum website

    15. Visit Kanei-ji Temple

    Kanei-ji Temple has a rich history dating back nearly 400 years. It is one of the many temples and shrines you can find in the historic part of Ueno. You can’t go inside the temple, but you can wander the precincts and marvel at this historic building for free.

    Kanei-ji Temple website

    16. Visit Toshogu Shrine

    This impressive golden shrine is also worth a visit. It was built in 1627 in memory of Tokugawa Shogunate founder Ieyasu Tokugawa. People often pray at this shrine for good luck in passing examinations, long life, and recovery from illness.

    Toshogu Shrine website

    17. Shop at Ecute

    Ecute is a delightful chain store that you will find in Ueno, among other places in Japan. This department store sells food, souvenirs, coffee, baked goods, stationery, bags, accessories, and much more. Definitely check out this shop if you’d like to do some shopping without the potential crowds of Ameyoko.

    Ecute Ueno website *Japanese only

    18. Check Out Takenodai Fountain


    A post shared by 吉谷 孝義 (@y.taka52) on

    Close to Ueno Zoo and Starbucks, you’ll see a gorgeous fountain next to which you can relax and take in the sights around you. This fountain is kept clean and upkept well, and you can often see families spending time together around there. It’s a great place to drink your coffee and go people-watching.


    19. Visit the National Museum of Western Art

    You won’t just find Japanese history and art in Ueno! If you’re partial to western art, be sure to check out this museum in the area. You’ll find paintings and drawings, special exhibitions, and some of the west’s most famous artworks by artists such as Van Gogh, Moreau, Picasso, Ernst, and Courbet.

    National Museum of Western Art website

    20. Try Japanese Sake and More at Izakaya-machi

    Close to Ueno Station is an area of izakayas, or Japanese pubs, where you can visit to try beer, Japanese rice wine, and classic izakaya foods such as yakitori (skewered chicken) and edamame (soy beans). If the sun goes down while you’re in Ueno, it doesn’t mean the day is over! Explore this group of pubs and discover your new favourite bar in Tokyo.


    21. Buy Cute and Affordable Goods at ABAB Ueno

    Japan is known for its “kawaii” cute fashion, and ABAB Ueno Store offers some seriously cute goods that would be great as souvenirs or for yourself. Harajuku isn’t the only place where you can get affordable and unique things! Be sure to check out this store during your shopping trip.

    ABAB website

    22. See a Performance at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan

    The Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, meaning “culture hall”, was opened in April 1961 as a 500-year celebration of the “birth” of Tokyo. Now, it’s possible to see many different kinds of performances there including orchestras, concerts, recitals, and operas. Check out the calendar on their website and see what strikes your fancy!

    Tokyo Bunka Kaikan website

    23. Learn About Local History at Shitamachi Museum

    This small museum at the corner of the lake has replicas and relics from the local area, depicting a merchant home and neighbourhood with antiques. Entering here feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It is fascinating if you’re curious about what old Japanese homes looked like and is a nice stop-off during a stroll around the pond.

    Shitamachi Museum website *Automatic translation available

    24. Take a Photo of Saigo Takamori

    Saigo Takamori was one of the most famous and influential samurai in Japanese history, as well as one of the last. He was one of the three noblemen who led the Meiji Restoration. In Ueno, you can find his statue standing proudly, an admirable piece of work for a figure of Japanese history. Fans of samurai cannot miss the chance to take a photograph with him.


    25. See the Great Buddha

    As well as some other locations across Japan such as Kamakura and Takaoka, but Ueno has one of its own! Ueno Daibutsu is part of a Buddhist temple and the large, friendly face is something to witness.


    26. Check Out the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

    For lovers of art, you can’t miss this museum! Here you’ll find fine art, photography, sculptures and more in the six exhibition halls, as well as places to eat and drink. It’s perfect for a rainy day and for those interested in Japanese artworks.

    Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum website

    27. Go Shopping at Ueno Marui

    Ueno has everything; as well as some beautiful parks and historic monuments, it also has a great variety of shops! Ueno Marui is near the train station and has a number of stores selling men’s and women’s fashion, sports, household items, and cosmetics.

    Ueno Marui website *Automatic translation available

    28. Check Out Shinobazunoike Bentendo

    This pretty Buddhist temple can be reached by going over a bridge where you will see many swimming koi carp. There are often food vendors along this bridge where you can grab grilled eel and other snacks. The temple is great for fantastic photographs due to its charming views and backdrop.

    Shinobazunoike Bentendo website

    29. Visit Hanazono Inari Shrine

    Another gem of Ueno Park is the row of red torii gates leading to Hanazono Inari Shrine. Something about this place just feels like “real” Japan and is definitely worth a visit during a stroll around the large park.


    30. Take a Break at Park Side Cafe

    Most people notice the Starbucks coffee house near Ueno Zoo, but if it’s crowded or you’re not a fan, there is also Park Side Cafe nearby, with an equally chilled out atmosphere. It’s a great place to grab a coffee and a piece of cake while you rest your legs.

    Park Side Cafe Tabelog

    31. Explore Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple

    This temple has some gorgeous grounds and you can spend a while here exploring the surrounding gardens and discovering nearby landmarks such as the Wani Monument. The temple itself is large and worth seeing for great photographs and beautiful views, especially during spring.


    32. Get Some Retail Therapy at AbAb Shopping Mall

    This tax-free shop is a great place to buy shoes, fashion accessories, and clothes. The department store also has a 100-yen shop and is home to Sweets Paradise for those craving candy and cakes!

    AbAb website

    33. Get Traditional Sweets at Usagiya

    Usagiya is a great place to get dorayaki, a traditional Japnanese snack that resembles something between a cake and a pancake, usually with a sweet bean filling. You can also get delicious ice cream here. Pop in for a sweet treat!

    Usagiya Tabelog page

    34. Fall in Love with Gojoten Shrine

    This area looks like something from a samurai movie. The Shinto shrine and grounds look especially beautiful during cherry blossom season in March. With a close proximity to the pond and Ueno Daibutsu, this shrine is conveniently located and fun to visit.


    35. Have Some Amazing Seafood

    สุโค่ยยยย ..

    A post shared by Ammy Sirikarn (@ammy_sirikarn) on

    Isomaru Suisan is a cosy seafood restaurant with a traditional Japanese feel that you can find near Ameyoko Market. Come here for some serously good seafood such as oysters, sashimi, and grilled shrimp. This restaurant is open until late at night so it’s also perfect for some late evening snacking.

    Isomaru Suisan Tabelog page

    36. Get Souvenirs at Matsuzakaya

    Near Ueno-Hirokoji Station is Matsuzakaya, a department store that is great for foreigners because they have an interpretation service and if you take your passport, you get a 5% discount (certain goods are excempt). It’s a great place to get souvenirs to remember you time in Ueno.

    Matsuzakaya website

    37. Take a Relaxing Bath

    Public baths, locally called “sento,” are an ancient culture in japan as a way for people to relax and unwind. If you’re fatigued or tired from walking during your stay in Ueno, try Ueno Sauna! It’s a great place to take a hot bath and relax your muscles.


    38. Get Confectionary and Souvenirs at Sugar Butter Tree

    Another great place to get traditional sweets and great Tokyo souvenirs is Sugar Butter Tree, which you’ll find in Ueno Station. It’s the perfect shop to visit before you leave if you’d like some local treats and cakes.

    Sugar Butter Tree website *Japanese only

    39. Check Out the Rohan Koda Yanaka Former Residence

    This pretty area used to be the residence of Rohan Koda Yanaka, an author from the Meiji period. His daughter, Aya Koda, was also a writer. In Ueno, you can see where they used to live in a traditional-style house. There are also a few temples nearby, making for a nice stroll on a warm day.


    Tours for Those Who Also Want to Go to Other Areas

    Ueno is just one of the many great districts in Tokyo worth seeing during your visit. Check out the tours below that include fun things to do in Ueno and other areas combined.

    40. Wear a Kimono and Stroll Around Tokyo


    Have you ever wanted to wear a Japanese kimono? These beautiful garments suit any shape and size, and with this opportunity you can get dressed up in a kimono and stroll famous spots in Tokyo including Ueno, Asakusa, and Shibuya. Afterwards, you can have something to eat and drink at a Japanese inn called an “izakaya”.

    Booking details: Wear a kimono while strolling around famous spots in Tokyo

    41. See Ueno and Asakusa in One Day


    Why not double up on your historical day by taking a stroll around both Asakusa and Ueno in one day? Asakusa is home to the oldest buddhist temple in Tokyo and the famous Nakamise shopping street. The tour below offers both areas where you can see the highlights in just two hours.

    Booking details: Explore Ueno & Asakusa in a 2-hour tour

    42. See Tokyo’s Best Shopping Streets


    This tour is a must for shopaholics! You can visit the best shopping streets in Tokyo, one of which is in Ueno. You can buy clothes, electrical goods, accessories, and souvenirs. Check out the tour below to be guided to the top 3 sopping streets in the city.

    Booking details: Visit three of Tokyo’s most famous shopping streets!

    43. Tour Popular Places in Tokyo with a Local


    If you’d like to see Tokyo from a local person’s perspective, consider trying the tour below. You can choose and combine several types of places from the list, including Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno, Asakusa, the Imperial Palace, and many more. Book for your most desired areas and let the guide do the rest!

    Booking details: Tour all the popular places in Tokyo with a local!

    44. Join an Izakaya and Sake Pub Crawl


    Want a real Japanese night out? Ueno and areas beyond are just bursting with great places to drink not only beer and spirits, but real Japanese sake and plum wine, too! If you’re interested in living like a local and seeing the hidden taverns and bars only locals know about, check out the tour below.

    Booking details: Join hidden Izakaya&Sake Pub Crawl Tour in Tokyo

    45. See Tokyo by Bicycle

    Cycling Tour

    A fast, clean and affordable way to get round Tokyo is by bicycle. This tour offers some of Tokyo’s best sites by bike, including Ueno Zoo, Asakusa, Ginza, Shibuya and Aoyama, depending on which course you select. Bikes and a guide are included, so why not ride in peace while the guide does the rest?

    Booking details: Enjoy a full-day cycling sightseeing tour of Tokyo!

    46. Go on a Heritage Walk around Ueno, Yanaka and Sendagi


    Ueno Park and the surrounding areas are a fusion of the ultra-modern and the historical. Join this walking tour to experience the sweet back streets of Yanaka Ginza, stroll the temples of Ueno and bask in the richness of Japanese culture and history.

    Booking details: Ueno, Yanaka, Sendagi Heritage Walk

    47. See the Best Parts of East Tokyo in One Day


    See the highlights of east Tokyo on this special private tour! You can go shopping in Ginza, see the anime madness of Akihabara, and of course see Ueno too. If you’re stretched for time and would like to see the best parts of East Tokyo in one day, consider taking this tour.

    Booking details: Discover the essentials of Tokyo’s eastern side, 1-day tour

    48. Check Out the Ueno Royal Museum

    Another great museum in Ueno is the Royal Museum, where you can take a look at some contemporary art including the current exhibitions.

    Ueno Royal Museum website

    49. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry at Kurand Sake Market

    This classic izakaya has everything you could want for a Japanese-style evening: delicious pub food, a cosy setting, and a variety of sake selections! This is perfect if you want to stop for a drink after a busy day and are curious about local rice wine.

    Kurand Sake Market Tabelog page

    50. See the Highlights of Tokyo with an English-Speaking Guide

    Tokyo tour
    Finally, this tour is for people who would like to see the best parts of the whole of Tokyo in one fun-filled day! The tour includes Ueno, Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace Gardens, Asakusa Kannon Temple and a cruise on the Sumida River! If you’d like to enjoy Tokyo without worrying about trains or how to get to places, take this tour.

    Booking details: Grand Tour of Tokyo Highlights with English Guide, Tokyo!

    Tokyo is a fantastic place to visit and it’s well worth experiencing as much as you can in the time you have here. Be sure to take advantage of the Haneda Airport to Tokyo shuttle service, or transportation from Yokohama Port if you’re taking the ferry to Yokohama.

    If you’re planning to ride the train often, then you should definitely grab a prepaid Suica travel card to make your journeys easier. There is also a 24-, 48- and 72-hour unlimited subway pass if you’d prefer.

    With everything prepared for your journey, you have more time to relax and enjoy all the great things that Tokyo has to offer! Have an incredible time!

    For more things to do in other areas, check this list out!
    Would you like to stay in Ueno? Check out all the hotels in the area here!