12 days of Japan Travels: Ueno Zoo, Ameyoko Shopping Street & Giga Butadon Day 12!


On day 12 of our Japan Travels, we finally got to visit Ueno Zoo, check out the famous Ameyoko Shopping Street in Ueno and try the unbelievably huge Giga Butadon (Pork Rice)!

After breakfast at Lawson convenient store (again! yay!), we left our luggage at our hotel – Ueno Touganeya Hotel, before heading off to Ueno Zoo, a short walk away…

Lobby of Ueno Touganeya Hotel where we left our luggage
Street around Ueno Touganeya Hotel
Street around Ueno Touganeya Hotel

On a side note, we have actually come to appreciate the convenient stores in Japan. If you noticed from our last few posts, as we’re early risers, more than 50% of our breakfasts were taken at convenient stores such as Lawson, Family Mart and 7-11. Perhaps you’ll also come to appreciate the convenience that these Konbini offers.

Ueno Zoo Tokyo
Ueno Zoo Tokyo

Ueno Zoo
Address: 9-83 Uenokoen, Taito, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 5pm (Closed on Mondays!!!)

At 9:30am sharp, the barrier around Ueno Zoo entrance was removed by the security guards and we approached the ticketing machines to purchase our entrance tickets for only…600 yen per person! :O

Ueno Zoo Ticketing Machines
Ueno Zoo Ticketing Machines
Entrance Tickets to Ueno Zoo at 600 Yen
Entrance Tickets to Ueno Zoo at 600 Yen

At 600 yen ($7.50SGD), it must have been the cheapest Zoo entrance we’ve ever paid for. However, that did not mean that the zoo is of a lower quality. In fact, there is much to explore at Ueno Zoo. Just check out the number of attractions marked out on this map of Ueno Zoo…

Ueno Zoo Map
Ueno Zoo Map

From the map, you can see that there are 3 entrances to Ueno Zoo. Also, the zoo is also divided into east and west parts, connected by a monorail in between. As we entered via the southwest entrance, we strolled past the Shinobazu Pond – a large pond within the premise of the Zoo that takes up approximately 25% of the entire area, heading first to see the lemurs. But turns out that we saw the Fossa feasting on some raw meats first! -_-”

Fossa enjoying his breakfast Ueno Zoo
Fossa enjoying his breakfast Ueno Zoo

Followed by the Madagascar Crested Ibis and the Black and White Ruffed Lemur enjoying a morning suntan

Madagascar Crested Ibis Tokyo Ueno Zoo
Madagascar Crested Ibis Tokyo Ueno Zoo
Black and White Ruffed Lemur suntanning at Tokyo Zoo
Black and White Ruffed Lemur suntanning at Tokyo Zoo

Next we headed to the Aye Aye Forest to visit the Aye Aye, an animal of the same family as the Lemur…

Aye Aye Forest Ueno Zoo
Aye Aye Forest Ueno Zoo
Aye Aye Ueno Zoo
Aye Aye Ueno Zoo

Of course, we got to see the usual suspects – giraffe (one of Kate’s favourite animals) and the hippopotamus

Giraffe at Ueno Zoo
Giraffe at Ueno Zoo
Hippopotamus Zoo Ueno
Hippopotamus Zoo Ueno
Kids admiring the Pygmy Hippo - sometimes known as the water ballerina
Kids admiring the Pygmy Hippo – sometimes known as the water ballerina

Although it was a Tuesday, we noticed many adults bringing kids around in these cute little kids trolleys

Kids on "trolleys" in Ueno Zoo
Kids on “trolleys” in Ueno Zoo

We were thinking that they were possibly baby-sitters or teachers of nursery/pre-school, taking the kids out for the day. Children below the age of 12 enters Ueno Zoo for free 🙂 Somehow when capturing the animals, we caught this kid pouting for our cameras…

Can you see the kid pouting in this photo?
Can you see the kid pouting in this photo?

After visiting most parts of the west side of the Ueno Zoo, we headed over to the east side. You have the option of taking the monorail for 150 yen or take a short walk across the connection which takes less than 10 minutes.

Monorail connecting the east and west side of Ueno Zoo
Monorail connecting the east and west side of Ueno Zoo

On the east side of Ueno Tokyo Zoo, there are several attractions such as the Japanese Macaque (also known as snow monkey), bird sanctuary, sun bear and of course the Giant Pandas!

Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey) Ueno Zoo Tokyo
Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey) Ueno Zoo Tokyo
Different classes of "citizens" in the world of Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey)
Different classes of “citizens” in the world of Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey)

It has been documented many times that there is a certain hierarchy in the world of Japanese Macaques. This was the first time that we witnessed it. If you take a look at the second photo above, you can see a small little hut where the alpha/leader macaques are resting or being groomed by another monkey (possibly of a lower class). Below and outside of the hut, the rest of the monkeys are hanging around and looking upwards at the hut – seemingly admiring the life of the leader pack.

Harry Potter Owl Ueno Zoo
Harry Potter Owl Ueno Zoo
Wise Looking Owl Tokyo Zoo
Wise Looking Owl Tokyo Zoo
Sun Bear Ueno Zoo
Sun Bear Ueno Zoo

While visiting the Sun Bear (a must when 2bearbear visits a zoo :P), we saw the sun bear playing around with an abandoned tree trunk. Check out the video below to see it in action.

Of course, the main highlight of Ueno Zoo is the Giant Panda – Xiang Xiang (香香). The name means fragrance. Possibly named after Kate? Hm…

Giant Panda 大熊猫 Ueno Zoo Tokyo
Giant Panda 大熊猫 Ueno Zoo Tokyo
Phototaking for Giant Panda Attraction
Phototaking for Giant Panda Attraction
Sleeping Giant Panda Ueno Zoo
Sleeping Giant Panda Ueno Zoo

As the main attraction of Ueno Zoo, you’ll naturally observe many visitors hanging around the Giant Panda sanctuary. Unfortunately for us, Xiang Xiang was sleeping, facing away from us. Hence, we were only able to take a shot from the back. At the main entrance (southeast side), we took some photos before heading back to the Ueno train station…

2bearbear @ Ueno Zoo
2bearbear @ Ueno Zoo
Giant Panda statue at Entrance of Ueno Zoo with 2bearbear
Giant Panda statue at Entrance of Ueno Zoo with 2bearbear

Our next attraction to visit in Ueno was the Ameyoko Shopping Street

Ameyoko Shopping Street Entrance
Ameyoko Shopping Street Entrance
Ameyoko Shopping Street Ueno Tokyo
Ameyoko Shopping Street Ueno Tokyo
Sunny day at Ameyoko Street Ueno
Ameyayokocho Shopping Street Ueno

Ameyoko Shopping Street is a pedestrian shopping street near Ueno train station. Here, you’ll be able to find many restaurants and shopping (especially cosmetics, souvenirs, bags) opportunities. One of the food that you should try is the Butadon (Grilled Pork Rice). This time we tried out the Giga Shibire Butadon near the entrance of Ameyoko Shopping Street!

Butadon Restaurant Ameyoko Street Ueno
Butadon Restaurant Ameyoko Street Ueno
Menu of Butadon (BBQ Grilled Pork Rice) Ameyoko Ueno Tokyo
Menu of Butadon (BBQ Grilled Pork Rice) Ameyoko Ueno Tokyo
Giga Shibire Butadon - 1.5kg of Grilled Pork Rice at Ameyoko Street Ueno Tokyo!
Giga Shibire Butadon – 1.5kg of Grilled Pork Rice at Ameyoko Street Ueno Tokyo!

First and foremost, the Giga Butadon was HUGE! Eventhough the pork was uniquely seasoned and well grilled, we still struggled to finish the entire bowl. Cant imagine how big the Tera Butadon would be like. During our visit, we also witnessed some young men challenging each other to finish a Giga Bowl by themselves. When one of them finished, the rest cheered loudly and congratulated him heartily! The pork itself was seasoned with a secret recipe with rich flavours and a slight tang on the end. Coupled with the high grade japanese rice and sauce, the meal was amazing! We also had a beef tendon soup to balance the flavours. Shiok!

After picking up our luggage at Ueno Touganeya Hotel, we took our airport transfer at 1:30pm from Ueno to Narita Airport. There, we did some shopping (Shu Uemera cosmetics, Japanese Whiskey) before heading to the KAL Lounge at Terminal 1. As we had the Citi Premiermiles Credit Card, we also had the complimentary priority pass. Having read this review of priority pass lounges in Narita Airport, we found out that KAL Lounge is the best priority pass lounge at Narita Airport

Best Priority Pass Lounge Narita Airport - KAL Lounge
Best Priority Pass Lounge Narita Airport – KAL Lounge
KAL Lounge Narita Airport Priority Pass
KAL Lounge Narita Airport Priority Pass

According to Priority Pass, we found out that Priority Pass holders actually have “low priority” of entering lounges. Priority Pass website states that there would be times where priority holders are not able to enter. This is because the real priority is given to paying customers. Being “customers who have already paid”, there is no real need of allowing us to enter first. Hence, we were actually very thankful that we were able to check out the KAL Lounge 🙂

Snacks KAL Lounge Narita Airport
Snacks KAL Lounge Narita Airport
Alcoholic Selection KAL Lounge Narita Airport
Alcoholic Selection KAL Lounge Narita Airport
Automated Beer Filling Machine KAL Lounge Narita Airport Priority Pass
Automated Beer Filling Machine KAL Lounge Narita Airport Priority Pass

According to the review above, the other 2 priority pass lounges at Narita Airport does not have much snacks and does not offer alcoholic drinks. Snacks wise, there were biscuits, onigiri (rice ball), sandwiches and instant cup noodles. Besides the selection of liquors, we were intrigued by this beer filling machine…

This is possibly the world’s best invention for beer drinkers! Even the beer head (frothy foam at the top of the beer) was filled up by a separate inlet. A perfect mug of beer everytime! Genius!

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Happy Travels Everyone!

Tom & Kate,
2bearbear.com

Related Post

If you have just completed a post from our 12 days of travels in Japan. Find out more about this trip to Japan in the following posts below.

15 Travel Experiences and Things to do in Tokyo Japan!

Top 9 Things to do in Mount Fuji and Kawaguchiko Area!

Top 5 Things to do in Hida Takayama (高山)!

Top 6 Things to do in Nagoya (and food to eat)!

12 Days of Japan Travels: Tokyo Jimbocho and Imperial Palace Gardens Day 1

12 Days of Japan Travels: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Shinjuku Pablo and Shibuya Day 2

12 Days of Japan Travels: Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi, Sanrokuen and Fujizakura Inn Reviews Day 3

12 Days of Japan Travels: Lake Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center & Sightseeing Bus Tour Day 4

Konansou Mount Fuji Hotel Review (湖南庄) : In-Room Onsen and Meals with views of Mount Fuji!

12 Days of Japan Travels: Lake Saiko Wind Cave, Ide Brewery Mount Fuji and Bus Ride to Takayama Day 5

12 Days of Japan Travels: Takayama Morning Markets Jinya-Mae, Miyagawa and Takayama Hidagyu Day 6

12 Days of Japan Travels: Takayama Hidagyu (Hida Beef) and Bus Ride to Nagoya Day 7

Takayama Hidagyu Beef: All You Need To Know!

12 Days of Japan Travels: Eating our way through Nagoya Day 8

12 Days of Japan Travels: Visit Nagoya Castle and Overnight Bus Ride from Nagoya to Tokyo Day 9

12 Days of Japan Travels: Ichiran Ramen & Kamiya Pub Reviews Day 10

12 days of Japan Travels: Tsukiji Fish Market, Ippudo Ramen & Akihabara Tokyo Day 11

12 days of Japan Travels: Ueno Zoo, Ameyoko Shopping Street & Giga Butadon Day 12

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