Friday, November 8, 2013

Two Kids, No Stroller and Panda Bears, OH MY!

We decided on taking a family day trip so I looked at my JBL (Japan Bucket List), see it here, and decided with the awesome fall weather it was a good time to go check out Ueno Zoo! Ueno Zoo is the oldest Zoo in Tokyo and totally worth the trip.
After reading the site and seeing the zoo has no official parking we decided we would brave the trains with the two kids. Two kids under 3 and no stroller, needless to say I was prepared for misery but was pleasantly surprised how well they both did today! With a heads up of getting there early to see the Panda's awake we left our house around 7:30am. We caught the Commuter Special Rapid train (makes WAY less stops) and got stuck standing until some nice people let Sawyer and I sit, the 60min train ride to Kanda(one stop before Tokyo Station!) was no the most fun thing but we survived- Sawyer was pretty antsy to get off and see animals. 
Not only Bristol's First train ride,
but our first train ride with all four of us!
We had to switch trains and with the packed train to Kanda I was scared our next train would be packed too, but once we got on the line headed to Ueno, there was barely any people on it! We made it to the zoo entrance about 5 min before they opened so I'd say it was perfect timing!
So many school kids on field trips!
No doubt Ueno is an AMAZING place to stroll through Cherry Blossoms in spring, the fall colors were just as gorgeous. The 600Yen (about $6) entrance fee for adults is more than reasonable in my opinion, with kids under 12 being FREE it makes the deal even sweeter. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by tons of panda statues and picture opportunities as the Giant Panda exhibit is the first thing you see to your right. The two Giant Pandas, Ri Ri and Shin Shin, were enjoying a delicious breakfast of bamboo and watching all the crazy people take their picture. Very thankful we went and saw them first because on the way out we peaked into their exhibit and they had their backs to the glass.  
Ri Ri
Shin Shin
While walking through the first part of the Zoo, you almost forget you are pretty much in downtown Tokyo. We got to watch an Elephant drink and splash around, Zack claims it was the first time he had seen an Elephant and Sawyer was in awe and kept making Elephant noises!
I have to give major props to the Lion and Tiger habitats they had created! The tiger had a nice waterfall and little stream. Since we got there at opening a lot of the animals were eating their breakfast and not giving the best picture opportunities but it was fun to watch!
Pretty Tiger Area, Tiger was down over by the feeding area see next picture!
Pacing while waiting for breakfast
You can see many monkeys and gorillas through out the park. Sawyer liked watching him eat his leaves, check out all the kids at the window across from us!
 Pandas aren't the only bears you can see while visiting Ueno! They also have a Hokkaido Brown Bear, Japanese Black Bear, Malayan Sun Bear and a POLAR BEAR! Near the polar bear exhibit was the seals and sea lions which have a water arch you can walk through and they swim above and below you (a lot like the Shark Experience at Six Flags in Vallejo but with seals). Sawyer got a huge kick out of watching the seals and sea lions swim around.  
Polar Bear being cute!
Ueno Zoo is split into two areas you have the East Area (the area that you are in when you enter the main gate) and the West Area. A list of which animals are where can be found on the Ueno Zoo link which I have included above. We opted not to take the monorail and to walk, the view coming over the bridge was awesome, it was a crazy reminder that you are at a Zoo amidst all the skyscrapers.

My favorites in the East Area were the Children's Zoo (aka lots of goats and sheep free roaming you walked around and touched), Hippo, Giraffes and the huge Galapagos Tortoise! I took over 100 pictures so I will upload more to my Facebook but have to share the few of my favorites on here.
Getting eaten by Bristol in front of the Hippo
Look how HUGE this beauty is!
Giraffes with Skyscrapers in the background
Galapagos Tortoise.
Sawyer playing with a goat. He kept getting right in their face talking to them.
The farm animal whisperer! HAHA
If you would of asked me if I thought Sawyer could walk around the whole zoo without throwing fits I would of said No Way and been proved wrong. Both kids did AMAZING! Bristol slept majority of the day and handled being in the carrier like a champ! It took us about 2.5 hours to do the major portions of the Zoo and most of the houses, with Sawyers lack of interest in smaller exhibits and how tired we were after getting up at 4am with Bristol we did miss the one corner of the Zoo which had the five-story pagoda but no animal exhibits. We ate lunch inside the Zoo at one of the small cafés by the lake. I enjoyed some yummy Yakisoba while the boys ate pizza, hot dogs and fries. The food was yummy and not over priced (like most Zoo/Park food is in the States). Before heading back to the train station Zack and I got Starbucks to give us some energy to make the journey back. Sawyer played at the park behind Starbucks while we drank our coffees and Bristol ate. My hope of wearing Sawyer out so he was well behaved on the train back was a major success! We were able to catch a Rapid train from Kanda back where we all got seats, it helped leaving before people were off work and out of school! We were back home by about 3:30pm.
Ueno Zoo is a great day trip. Which you could do and see more than we did, but with it being our first outing without a stroller and our first journey into Tokyo as a family I am more than pleased with what we accomplished today! I'm sure we will go back again before we leave, I now we will be revisiting Ueno Park to go to a few museums.  I'd love to see Ueno Park in the spring with the Cherry Blossoms. Ueno Park has a couple museums which are before/around the Zoo entrance: Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum. All of which would be interesting to visit. I also wouldn't mind checking out the Michelangelo exhibit at the National Museum of Western Art (Exhibit Info), but since it is only here until November 17th, I don't see myself making it down there with Zack's crazy work schedule and appointments these next two weeks. I will be keeping an eye on happenings the museums put on from here on out, so I don't miss anything crazy awesome!
Bottom line: If you haven't been to Ueno Zoo and you live here in Japan, GO!
Successful day at the Zoo!!!
Until Next Time

No comments:

Post a Comment