Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum of Nature and Science

Fourth day in Tokyo. We decided to visit Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum of Nature and Science. We traveled to Ueno Park via Ginza Line (we didn't use the fastest Yamanote Line, because we had 72-hour unlimited ride ticket for Metro Lines). The zoo is located some 500 meters away from the station. 

Ueno Zoo is the oldest zoo in Japan, which starts operational since 1882. The zoo operation hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, and closes on Monday. The entrance fee was 600 Yen for one adult, and 300 Yen for senior citizen.

Ueno Zoo is divided into two different zones- east and west gardens. We can see most of the nice exhibits and animals at the east garden- tiger, gorilla, polar bear, crane, seal, birds, primates and many more. West garden consists of a big lake with a lot of water birds, a few animal houses, and several big animals, including rhino, giraffe, and okapi. Some sources state that the zoo currently contains more than 2600 animals. That's an enormous number for a small zoo. More information about the zoo is available at Ueno Zoo official website.

Our main target in Ueno Zoo were polar bear, gorilla, and okapi. The last time we saw a walking polar bear was 20 years ago in Singapore Zoo. We had not seen a real okapi and gorilla before, except through National Geographic and Animal Planet. We reached the zoo at 11:30 am and left around 2 pm. We took a short rest and walked to National Museum of Natural and Science.

There were limited choices of food and drinks in the zoo, so bringing our own snacks could be a good idea. The resting area were packed with visitors. If you wish to stay in the zoo for a longer time, a comfortable footwear and an umbrella is a must. By the way, it was our first experience to queue up in front of several exhibits in the zoo to see the animals. Frankly, we were amazed by the ability of Japanese zoo to squeeze so many animals into a single place, but at the same time, quite sad to see the animals being packed in small exhibits.

Ueno Park is big, which consists of several museums and a zoo. It is located on the other side of the road, outside of the metro station (upper left). We need to cross the road, turn right and walk straight to the main entrance of Ueno Park, which is located opposite of JR Railway Station. Then, turn left after the JR Railway Station and continue straight till we reach the entrance of the zoo (upper right). The ticket can be bought outside of the zoo (lower right). The junction to the east or west is located nearby the entrance.

Gorilla (upper left), polar bear (upper right), and okapi (lower right) were the animals that we would like to see in Ueno Zoo. We were lucky to meet them all (although a little disappointed that okapi didn't turn its face to us). We saw some interesting indigenous primates in the zoo as well.

A beautiful local bird.

 A few exhibits had nice landscape and design, but the animals couldn't be found.

We visited the zoo on Friday. 12:30 pm. The whole zoo was crowded with school kids. Well, children have free entrance.

We had to line up to see some popular animals, such as panda and tiger.

It is fun to see kids with different colour of hats.

Monorail connecting the east and west gardens is a big tourist trap. First, we had to beat the long queue (best estimation, should be more than 15 minutes), then paid for the ride (yes, it was not free), and board on a few minutes ride. There is a sky-bridge connecting two gardens. We need only 3 minutes to cross the bridge.

West garden from the bridge. We can see the lakeside is full with visitors.

The seat under shades were all occupied nearby food trucks (upper left). There were two trucks, selling grilled beef and rice, and takoyaki (upper right). We tried takoyaki (lower right). The taste was good, and the price was reasonable- 5 takoyaki with 500 Yen, just a bit more expensive than takoyaki in Malaysia. We could see the queue at monorail station from the food truck. The queue line extended to the outside of the station. 

National Museum of Nature and Science is located beside National Museum of Western Art, some 300 meters from Ueno Zoo. The museum was established in 1871.  It is divided into two parts- Japan gallery and world gallery. Japan Gallery is interesting, but the Global Gallery is more attractive. We would recommend to spend more time at world gallery. We stayed in the museum for two hours and left at 4:15 pm.

Normal entrance fee for the museum was 620 Yen for adult. The operation hours are from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays, and 9 am to 8 pm on weekends. The entrance were free during our visit as it was their museum day. Lucky, lucky!!

2 pm, the walkway in Ueno Park was crowdy (upper left). The entrance is beside the old museum building (upper right), with a clear sign in front of it (lower right). There is a big whale statue in front of the museum.

Free museum admission for all! Theater 360 is an attraction in the museum, with long queue. It was not very attractive for us, especially after we visit DisneySea. The narration was in Japanese. Anyhow, it still worth to take a look.

Hachiko, a white Akita dog which waited for its master at Shibuya station for nine years following its master's death. It is a true story of loyalty, which has been depicted in a few movies. Behind Hachiko are the real bodies of two dogs- Taro and Jiro, which had survived in Antarctica for 11 months, after being abandoned by the research teams. The story was screened by the movie Eight Below.

Hachiko statue marks the place where the loyal dog waited for its master. The statue is located in Shibuya.

Skeleton of a plesiosaurus in Japan Gallery is displayed on the top floor of Japan Gallery.

The global gallery is amazing. Massive dinosaur skeletons, such as T-rex and apatosaurus are available. These dinosaur skeletons were imported from other countries.

Triceratops skeleton. 

There are other skeletons, such as whales, elephants, and even saber tooth animals available in the exhibition halls.

A Zero fighter plane is exhibited in science hall.

National Museum of Nature and Science is worth a visit. Our advice, breeze through Japan Gallery, and concentrate our time at Global Gallery. Japan Gallery is located in the same building with ticket counter, with older design. Global Gallery is in another building behind the Japan Gallery. There are not many resting area in the exhibition halls, but seats are available outside. Food were available at the canteen, but we didn't buy anything there. 

We took our late lunch at a ramen shop nearby Metro Station. Then we went to Shibuya after our visit. We bought some cheap items at Shibuya. Follow us next to know more about our accommodation, shopping, and how we moved around Tokyo.

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