Day 18: Ueno
As we had left today as a free day, we weren’t sure what to do with ourselves once it had come. And so we decided to explore the area around the hotel, Ueno. First off, the park and museums! Some of the members of the travelling party really wanted to see dinosaurs, funnily enough.
Before finding the National Science Museum, we had to walk through Ueno Park which features several museums, temples, the Ueno Zoo, and the oft-shown statue of Saigo Takamori. We stopped at the major sights and even went into the more ‘boring’ museums.
The National Science Museum was fairly large and had a confusing layout consisting of multiple buildings and many detours. It took us a while before we found the dinosaurs, of which the exhibits were rather impressive. Of note is a big room filled with interactive machines that children are encouraged to play with somewhere in the upper floors.
Our heads full of dinosaurs, we left the museum and park to fill our stomachs with lunch. There was a particular restaurant on Ameyoko street which had caught our attention before and we were determined to try the unagi don or unagi bento served there. It was a small shop but with a good amount of seating space that quickly filled up after we had ordered. I had a basic unagi set consisting of a generous portion of said eel, an unagi innards soup, rice and a salad. The taste was what I expected of unagi but slightly fresher and with a better texture than the stuff I’ve had outside of Japan. All in all a great meal but not that different from the standard fare overseas.
The afternoon was spent at Ameyoko street flipping tables at the arcade, browsing shoe and clothes shops, and running away from African men hired by a similar shop as the one at Harajuku. I did finally find a Yokoyama Yui poster type calendar which had been sold out pretty much everywhere else we looked so I did have some loot to take home today.
Later on, we gave ramen another try and this time we were served semi-decent bowls of noodles. What made it memorable, though, was the unlimited supply of chopped garlic, which we helped ourselves to gleefully.
Tomorrow would be our last day in Japan and we only have half of the day before needing to start heading to the airport and so we returned to the hotel for an early night in lieu of an early start.
Things we learnt today:
- Ueno Park is massive. Good if you like museums or just want to see the statue of the guy with the dog.
- Ameyoko street is similar to Takeshita street in that you don’t want to look too badass
- Ramen must have garlic. Garlic makes everything better.