Ueno is a cluster of museums and a zoo built around a spacious park in the northeast of Tokyo. It's a great place for a stroll or a picnic with children.
Lake in Ueno Park © svachalek
Ueno is the place to go for a taste of Old Tokyo, a walk in the park, or a day visiting museums. Located in northeast Tokyo, it seems a world away from the hypermodern urban nodes like Shibuya and Shinjuku. There's a huge train station here that serves the shinkansen lines that head north and northwest out of the city. You can combine a visit to Ueno with a stop in nearby Asakusa.
Things to Do and See in Ueno
- Ueno-koen Park (park)
This huge park is one of the most popular in Tokyo. It's a nice place for a stroll and it's the best place to see the cherry blossoms in the spring. There are four museums here including the excellent Tokyo National Museum. You'll also find the fine Toshu-gu Shrine here and the attractive Shinobazu-ike Pond.
- Tokyo National Museum (museum)
This is the best museum in Ueno and one of the best in Tokyo. It's a very good place to get a general introduction to the major styles and periods of Japanese art. Don't miss the swords and lacquerware!
- National Museum of Western Art (museum)
This fine museum makes a good counterpoint to the Tokyo National Museum. It's got a good permanent collection and it plays host to some really good traveling exhibits.
- National Museum of Nature and Science (science museum)
This is a surprisingly good museum of science and nature. It's particularly good for those traveling with children. There are the ever-popular dinosaur bones and a blue whale outside that calls to mind the famous one at the Museum of Natural History in New York.
- Shitamachi Museum (folk history museum)
This cute little museum down near Shinobazu-ike Pond is a good way to learn about the everyday lives of Tokyoites before the war. As the name suggests, it focuses on the lives of the residents of Shitamachi (the poorer sections of the city). There's usually an English-speaking guide.
- Ueno Zoo (zoo)
This small zoo is surprisingly good and there are plenty of species on display. It's great for kids and adults enjoy it too. The conditions for the animals aren't great but that's typical here.
- Ameya Yokocho Arcade (shopping street)
Located under the train tracks just south of Ueno Station, this shopping street dates back to the black market days of WWII. It's lined with all sorts of shops selling food and other cheap goods. It's usually packed with people.
Places to Eat in Ueno
- Usagiya (dorayaki cakes)
This old shop specializes in dorayaki (sort of like a pancake stuffed with sweet read bean paste). Fans of the anime will recognize this as Doraemon's favorite food.
- Izu-ei Honten (unagi etc)
This popular restaurant not far from Ueno Station serves some mouth-watering unagi dishes, including unaju (unagi over rice). It's not cheap, but good unagi never is.
- Sasa-no-Yuki (tofu)
In Negishi, which is near the Uguisudani Station (one stop north of Ueno), this traditional tofu restaurant is a great place to learn what is possible with the humble bean curd. Highly recommended for vegetarians and their friends.
- Teppanyaki Grow Ueno (teppanyaki)
This superb little restaurant south of Shinobazu-ike is a great place to sample teppanyaki. The beef and seafood here is awesome and the staff is very welcoming.
- Inshotei (various Japanese dishes)
Located inside Ueno-koen Park, this lovely traditional restaurant is a unique and delightful place for lunch or dinner in Ueno. They only accept cash (no credit cards).
Places to Stay in Ueno
Like nearby Asakusa, accommodation in Ueno is cheaper than in most other parts of Tokyo. There are plenty of budget and midrange hotels here and even a few ryokan scattered about. It's a good place to stay if you want to save money and don't mind "commuting" to other parts of the city for sightseeing.
Ryokan in Ueno
- Ryokan Katsutaro
This small ryokan just northwest of Ueno-koen Park is well located for sightseeing. They're quite used to foreign guests.
Mid-Range Hotels in Ueno
- Hotel Coco Grand Ueno Shinobazu
This is an excellent hotel with great views over Shinobazu-ike Pond. The rooms are comfortable and the service is very good. Highly recommended!
- Mitsui Garden Hotel Ueno
Located right outside Ueno Station, this is a great hotel with attentive staff. It's at the upper end of this price bracket, but the quality is high. Recommended.
- Hotel Parkside Tokyo
A simple hotel overlooking Shinobazu-ike Pong, this hotel offers good value for the money and a convenient location.
- Hotel Sardonyx Ueno
This is a reasonably priced hotel within easy walking distance of the sights in Ueno. The prices almost put it in the budget category.
- Sutton Place Hotel Ueno
Right next to Ueno Station, this is a nice business hotel with reasonable rates. It's a good choice if you need to be near the station or the park.
- Ueno Hotel
Just a bit north of Ueno Station, this hotel offers very competitive prices. The rooms are small but how can you complain at these rates?
- Candeo Hotels Ueno-koen
Located north of Ueno-koen near Uguisudani Station, this is a pleasant and serviceable business hotel.
- Ueno Terminal Hotel
This friendly little business hotel is close to the station and has a staff that tries to please. Rates are average for the area.
- Centurion Hotel Ueno
This business hotel has very small rooms but reasonable rates. It's not far from the station.
Budget Hotels in Ueno
- Hotel Graphy Nezu
Located in a residential district on the northwest side of Ueno-koen, this is a cool little hotel with good staff and a nice little outdoor seating area.
- Hotel Mystays Ueno Iriyaguchi
A short walk west of the station, this apartment-style hotel is a very good value for the money. It's good for a few nights in the city.
- Tokyo Ueno Touganeya Hotel
This is an interesting little hotel with a staff that tries hard to please. It's pretty close to Ueno Station. The rates are extremely reasonable.
- Kinuya Hotel
This traditional business hotel near Shinobazu-ike is a decent value.
- Sauna & Capsule Hotel Hokuo (men-only capsule hotel)
If you're a man and just need a cheap place to sleep for the night, this place right alongside Ueno Station will do the trick.
- Capsule and Sauna New Century (men-only capsule hotel)
A bit further from the station, this is another good choice for men looking for a cheap place to stay the night, or for those who just want to try the capsule hotel experience.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Truly Tokyo Google map:
- Open the Tokyo map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on Skyscanner
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Get travel insurance for your Japan trip - book online with World Nomads