Trip to Tokyo – A First Timer’s Plans and Expectations – Day 2

Hello there, fellow traveller!

Ready for the first full-blown day in Japan? I sure am!

But no matter at how excited I am when planning our itinerary, months in advance, I do have to keep in mind that there’s this funny thing called jetlag. And I absolutely can’t tell if my circadian rhythm will be totally messed up or if I’ll be good to go. And it’s not just me, I have to take my travel companion into consideration too. Although, we’re both used to visiting Gamescom for a week, getting up early and walking through the huge and loud halls… you’ll never know.

The internet says to take it slow on your first day or two. So, we’ll keep it small.

Ueno Park is at our feet, and we’ll be exploring it and have a good look at all the museums there!
We’re not actually entering each one of them, of course. I’m not too much of a museum person myself. But of course, if you want to visit Ueno Park and it’s museums you are free to check as many out as you like!

Word of advice: During cherry blossom season the park will be packed with people, hanging out, drinking and viewing the cherry blossoms. You know. Hanami. Might not be too inviting for an ample stroll. Or exactly what you want, if you want to look at the beautiful cherry blossoms yourself.

Also note that many museums are closed on Mondays!

But first, we’re going to need some breakfast to gain enough strength for the day!
Scattered all across the city you’ll be able to find many Matsuya shops. They are a fast-food chain specialised in Gyumeshi (beef on rice) but offer different dishes like curry rice and breakfast meals too.

A Standard Morning Set Meal includes a bowl of rice, a bowl of miso-soup, some nori, raw egg, pickles, green onions and natto.
If you don’t like natto like me (it’s fermented soy beans) there is also a Grilled Salmon Set Meal and a Sausage and Egg Set Meal.
And it’s super cheap. Morning meals cost between 360 and 400 Yen and I bet they’re satiating.

You order via a vending machine. Luckily nowadays most of them can be switched to English.
Once we’re strengthened it’s time to head out and walk to Ueno Park. 

Ueno Park’s many museums!

Since we’re coming from Ugusuidani Station, we’ll start from the northern end. So the first thing to see is Tokyo National Museum.
It’s the oldest and largest art museum in Japan, established in 1872. Tokyo National Museumconsists of a multiple buildings that host different and sometimes special exhibitions. There’s The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures, Kuroda Memorial Hall, Resarch and Information Center, Hyokeikan, Toyokan, Honkan (which hosts the Japanese Gallery), Heiseikan (Japanese Archaeology and Special Exhibitions) and a few smaller ones.

Admission is 620 Yen for adults.
Don’t want to pay in cash? They accept your SUICA and also your usual credit cards, Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Diners, etc.
 Have a look at their website for more detailed information.
I bet you can spend at least an hour in any of these buildings. So allow extra time, if you plan to visit the museum.
Next down in Ueno Park is Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. From 24th October 2017 until 1st January 2018 there will be a Van Gogh & Japan exhibition. So, if you’re visiting Japan during that time and are interested in Van Gogh, that’s your chance! Their exhibitions change every few weeks or so and some of them are free.

On the other side of the large fountain, there’s the National Museum of Nature and Science and the National Museum of Western Art. The latter is not really interesting to me since I am German and may visit Western Art museums any time I like. The National Museum of Nature and Science however will be saved for a different day.

What I really do want to visit on that day is Ueno Zoo. It’s Japan’s oldest zoo, established in 1882 and is home to more than 2.600 animals. Amongst them two giant pandas called Līlī and Shinshin.
There have been pandas in Ueno Zoo for quite a long time now. They’re basically Ueno’s mascot. That’s why you will see many pandas in Ueno.
South, close to Ueno Station, there’s The Ueno Royal Museum. It hosts different exhibitions every few weeks and sometimes exhibitions stay for a couple of month.
Next big stop is Ameya Yokocho, or Ameyoko, the famous shopping street!
The name either comes from ameya (飴屋candy shop) because before World War II there used to be lots of candy shops. Or ameya refers to America, since after World War II many shops sold American army goods.
Today there are lots of vendors that sell fresh fish, fruit and food, clothing, shoes, suitcases and lots of other trinkets.
If we’re not too full from trying different foods in Ameyoko, we’ll be having dinner at Tonkatsu Yamabe or we’ll choose a different restaurant. There are a lot of possibilities.
I love to sing, so what better way to top the evening off than by spending a couple of hours at a karaoke place. I chose Big Echo but I read that Karaoke no Tetsujin might be cheaper.
I want to try all of the big karaoke companies, so I can tell you about the advantages and disadvantages or special offers. Like daytime rates, if drinks are included, open-hour rates, song selections, etc.
On my list there’s Big Echo, Joysound, Adores and Karaoke no Tetsujin.
Let’s sing until we’re
On day 3 we will be exploring Akihabara and release our inner (and outer) nerd.

Kiara Threepwood