A Day in Tokyo’s Cultural Heart with Your Baby
A Family Day Out In Ueno Park
Created by Victoria Spaeth
Follow Victoria, as she takes you around Ueno Park, on a typical day in one of Tokyo’s most popular parks.
This trail is appropriate for babies and up
Everything you need to plan your trip to Tokyo
This is a year round trail
About a Family Day Out in Ueno Park
Perhaps best known for it’s stunning cherry blossom trees in the Spring during the Hanami Festival, Ueno Park is also home to the greatest concentration of museums, and also an area of Tokyo that is full of cultural history.
Let’s follow Victoria, from Tea For Dinosaurs, who used to live in Tokyo with her baby boy, on a lovely day out in Ueno Park. After an early start at the playground in Ueno Park, we head to the zoo, which is one of the biggest attractions of the area. This zoo is small, but lovely and the entrance fee is cheap. Some argue Japanese zoos are awful. This zoo is fairly updated with pretty surroundings and there are pandas.
Then wander around this park where there tend to be so many random events going on at all times. It will give you a nice slice of life into a day in the life of a local in Tokyo.
Ueno Park was also the site of some hideous battles during Japan’s brief civil war, when troops loyal to the shogun resisted the takeover of power by the Emperor. It was originally a temple, founded by Ieyasu Tokugawa as part of the power circle intended to protect Edo Castle from malicious influences. On the grounds of the temple were more than 800 cherry trees, their blossoms making Ueno famous today.
The park was donated by the Imperial household to Tokyo City for use as a public park to commemorate the wedding of Hirohito (later to be Showa emperor) in 1923. It was intended not just to serve as a recreational venue, but also a place for education of the population. Today, it is one of the most popular parks in Tokyo, home to the Ueno Zoo and several museums – some of which are very child-friendly.
If the weather is cooperating, head over to the Boat dock offering covered swan paddle boats or row boats. Boat rides are half an hour long and offer adorable photo opps, and you and your kids will have fun paddling around the pond.
For lunch, Victoria strongly urges checking out her friend who runs the Tokyo Chapter’s recommendations. For some Japanese food to eat with your kids, head over to Motomaru for Kyushuu Ramen and gyoza. They have an English menu out the front of the store and the staff are so so friendly too. There is table and counter seating to choose from.
Keep in mind that Ueno Park is rich with history, as you wander around.
In the temple grounds there was a giant Buddha bronze statue, which was destroyed during the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. The face remains and is on display in the park. Other remains from the original usage is the Tokugawa mausoleum, where the first shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa is enshrined (his burial site is in Nikko, a nice day trip from Tokyo).
On the trail, we’ve suggested an alternative lunch option for another thoroughly local experience. For those of you who are craving meat, check out Negishi for a set meal of rice and barbecue beef tongue. This place is really delicious yet affordable. You might have to queue, but it goes quickly and the set meals and English menu make it easy to order.
Spend the afternoon at the National Museum of Nature & Science where you should start in the “new” area with littles and sign up for your soft play time slot when you arrive. Your kids will love the play area and adore the fossil section .And you parents will enjoy it too!
What You Should Know Before Taking This Tour
Wheelchair and stroller accessible, no special gear required.
For stroller recommendations, check out our article about best strollers for air travel.
Layers, depending on season. Plan to be walking so good shoes. Also remember to bring washcloths to dry your hands and tissues for the restrooms. Japanese bathrooms don’t usually provide these things because everyone brings their own. If you are visiting and need these supplies any grocery store, drugstore or Daiso or Seria chain (dollar store) has them. I would also bring a bottle of water and snacks, it is a lot of walking.
Definitely need cash in yen. Yen has many denominations in large coins
so a large coin purse is easiest and what most locals use instead of a
western-style wallet. No one really uses CC in Japan except large
department stores and some grocery stores but usually, there are
massive exchange fees for western banks. Some card companies will
waive all fees, like Amex. But generally, most vendors do not take
Most attractions are like 200-800 yen so I would bring about 3000 per person, or about $25 USD
This trail is baby and toddler-friendly!
It is a big park and a full-day activity
No. The museums are very visitor-friendly and inexpensive. Some are closed on Mondays.
All-season trail but in Spring the Hanami is going on so there are picnics under the cherry blossoms and many street food vendors which is really fun.