7 Unique Spots to Visit in Ueno
Ueno is close to the neighborhood of Asakusa, which has long been a popular and lively area for shopping. Within Ueno, there is the spacious Ueno Park as well as Ameyoko Street, a popular shopping street that is especially a hit with various types of enthusiasts. This is an area with many well-known sightseeing spots, but if you look a bit deeper, you can discover some intriguing and less well-known spots in Ueno. This article introduces some carefully-selected, unique downtown spots with retro charm.
Dec 27 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
1. Ueno Great Buddha (Ueno)
Ueno Park is most famous for its cherry blossoms, which bloom from March to April depending on the year. The park is a quite spacious and is great for taking a stroll. On a hill in the very center, one can find the Ueno Pagoda, a circular tower with quite a mysterious appearance. This is actually a Buddhist temple in which rests Bhaisajyaguru, the Buddha of healing and medicine.
In this spot, almost directly in front of the pagoda, you will also find the Ueno Great Buddha (Ueno Daibutsu). This is a Buddha statue of which only the face remains. Originally, it was a large Buddha that stood 6 meters tall. However, during the course of its long history, it has collapsed due to numerous earthquakes, fires, and other disasters, leaving only the face left intact to this day. Just looking at this statue leaves quite the impact!
2. Ueno Ameyoko Center Building Underground Mall (Ueno)
Ameyoko is a shopping area containing stores that offer various kinds of specialty foods and clothing items. This whole area is a place with an intriguing atmosphere, with the Ameyoko underground mall being particularly lively!
As soon as you go down the stairs of the Ameyoko Center Building, you will find yourself in a different world. There are spices and exotic foods collected from Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and Thailand. You will find row upon row of rare products, such as various unusual cuts of meat and fish that might look a bit scary, most which can not be obtained elsewhere in Tokyo.
3. Oka (Okachi-machi)
Oka is a traditional Japanese cafe that is located between the Ueno and Okachimachi stations. The entrance is in the basement level, and you will see a gorgeous chandelier on the way down the stairs. This magical luxury chandelier is just one of the many attractions of this cafe.
The interior of the cafe has low lighting and comfortable sofa seats, with gorgeous stained glass adorning the walls. The cafe was established about 50 years ago, and everything has a cool, retro atmosphere. There is a traditional Japanese cafe menu with classic items such as Spaghetti Napolitan (ketchup-based spaghetti) and Cream Soda (melon soda float).
4. Nakata Shoten Ameyoko Branch (Okachi-machi)
Nakata Shoten certainly stands out, as it is located on a street corner around the middle of Ameyoko's main street. It sells various clothing items and accessories from the US military, and is one of the shops that contributes to the military fashion trend that has taken Tokyo by storm.
The shop has many products related to the US forces and the former imperial Japanese army, such as pea coats, jackets, boots, and shirts. There is also a great selection of items made in Europe, particularly from the German and Italian armies. This shop also supplies clothing for use on movie sets! It is certainly a shop that you can even enjoy just looking through without buying anything.
5. Okuma Shokai (Ueno)
Okuma Shokai, located in Ameyoko, is a specialty store for sukajan, which is a type of Japanese jacket decorated with fancy Japanese patterns and embroidery such as dragons, tigers, Mt. Fuji, and other things. They are quite visually impressive!
This shop has a wide range of sukajan, ranging from reasonably priced to super expensive and rare items. Of course, there are several kinds of sukajan for adults, and matching children’s sizes as well.
6. Rokuryu Kosen (Nezu)
Rokuryu Kosen is an old-fashioned Japanese public bath located in the narrow alleyways on the other side of Ueno Park from the station. Its Japanese-style appearance is impressive. To use the bath, customers go through the shop’s traditional curtain at the entrance and pay the fee at the counter.
The shop sells some delicious ice creams. The dressing rooms are large, and the bathing rooms contain beautiful murals called “sento-e.” The murals are different in the men's bath and woman’s bath, but - of course - you will only be able to see one of them!
7. Hanazono Inari Shrine (Ueno)
Located in Ueno Park, Hanazono Inari Shrine (Hanazono Inari Jinja) is a popular spot for many visitors as a place to worship the god of love and business. It is known for the red torii (Shinto shrine gate) that are lined up in a row, with many tourists visiting to take pictures. Overall, it is a great place to visit while walking in the park.
It is very intriguing that when visitors walk through the red torii area and down the stairs, they will feel their minds gradually become calm. You will get a sense of tranquility that will make you forget that you are in the center of Tokyo!
Ueno is a historical and vast area of Tokyo, so there will be many more places for you to discover if you venture out and explore. So, don't hesitate to visit the area!
Header image: VTT Studio/ShutterStock
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.