Ueno Zoo 上野動物園
Ueno Zoo located in Tokyo’s Ueno Park is the oldest zoo in Japan.
Tokyo Zoo, Ueno Park
The oldest zoo in Japan, Ueno Zoo was established at its present site in Tokyo in 1882 as part of Japan's modernization drive during the Meiji Period.
Tokyo's Ueno Zoo is world class, with animals and birds from around the globe. Best of all, its settings convincingly imitate the wild, meaning the animals can be observed in what come pretty close to their native habitats.
Tokyo Zoo is divided into 63 main sections, grouped into such categories as the Gorilla and Tiger's Forest, Japanese Animals, The Children's Zoo (with animal petting area), Animals of Africa, a Birdhouse, and the Vivarium (turtles and reptiles).
The big attractions at Ueno Zoo are the big animals: elephants, gorillas, polar bears, giraffes, etc. However, a leisurely inspection of the smaller enclosures and cages will reveal a huge assortment of smaller animals, and particularly birds, that you may well be seeing for the first time.
Ueno Zoo Pandas
In 1972 the first pair of giant pandas were given by China to Ueno Zoo, which contributed to the easing of Chinese and Japanese diplomatic relations. Besides the fact that it is the largest zoo in the country, it makes a point of honor of preserving endangered species.
Many Westerners are puzzled by affection for this zoo on the part of the Japanese, who are especially touched by its mascot, the giant panda. In 2011, another pair of pandas was offered by China to Japan. The pair had a baby panda in summer 2012. His unfortunate death after a week saddened the entire country, the Prime Minister even gave a speech on the subject, and jeopardized relations between the two countries.
Tokyo Zoo Features
A monorail offers a 90 second ride for 150 yen (80 yen for elementary schoolchildren) between the East Garden and West Garden. (Pre-paid cards like Suica and Pasmo are not accepted.)
The West Garden is dominated by the big Shinobazu Pond, the southern part of which is full of lotus plants. In the middle of it is a small island with a shrine to the goddess Benten, which is the sole Indian god among the otherwise Chinese Shichifuku (Seven Deities) traditionally worshiped in Japan.
Check out the Zoo Hall in the West Garden under Aesop's Bridge (the bridge you cross if you don't wish to join the queue for the monorail) for exhibitions. Reading room upstairs (in Japanese only) - accessible from outside stairs. In the East Garden, check out the Five-Storey Pagoda (an original fixture from Kaneiji Temple) across from the elephant enclosure.
Tokyo Zoo is well equipped with amenities. You are never far from a restaurant, snack stall, souvenir shop or toilet.
No feeding the animals, crows or pigeons. Smoke only in smoker-designated areas.
Address, timetable & access
9-８３ Uenokoen, Taito City
Timetable9.30am - 5pm (last admission at 4pm). Hours are occasionally extended on special days. Closed Monday, but open when Monday is a public holiday in Japan, in which case closed Tuesday. The Children's Zoo closes at 3.45pm.
Price600 yen (adults 15-64 years old), 300 yen (senior citizens), 200 yen (children 12-14 years old). Free entry on March 20 (Ueno Zoo Anniversary), May 4 (Midori no Hi) and October 1 (Tomin no Hi).