I celebrated Founder’s Day (a national Japan holiday held on 2/11) by heading to the Ueno Zoo, the oldest and most famous zoo in Japan, with my housemate! This was my first national holiday in Japan (I never had any national holidays while I was teaching), so I went all out by wearing my pink lolita coat from Harajuku and my puffy white bear hat. The zoo is most famous for its Giant Pandas, which were unfortunately not available to visit at this time of year, but it also has mini ecosystems like the Vivarium (full of amphibians), the Gorilla Woods, and Tiger Forest. Along the way there are many photo opportunities and chances to climb life-sized statues of animals, as well as eat some panda pancakes!
As I was catching photos of these exotic creatures, I felt as if I were playing a real-life version of Pokemon Snap. I’ve been to a number of zoos in America–including the Detroit Zoo and the Baltimore Zoo–and in comparison this zoo was a lot smaller, but still had a number of interesting attractions and fun features. Plus, the price was extremely reasonable at 600円 (less than $6). Ueno Park is a beautiful location right in central Tokyo and has a lot of attractions for tourists and families, such as temples, a tiny children’s amusement park, and swan boats you can take out on the river! Everything is relatively cheap in this area so I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in Tokyo a need a spacious place to unwind.