Ueno, Asakusa, Skytree
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Ueno

Shitamachi Museum - Museum: Ueno
[Open 9:30am-4:30pm. Closed Mondays.]
To get a real hands-on grasp of what life must have been like back in the dark days before instant noodles, the Shitamachi Museum is the place to go. Shitamachi ("low city") is the name for the low-lying parts of town that Tokyo's hoi polloi once...
National Museum of Nature and Science - Museum: Ueno
[Open 9am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
This is an outstanding natural history museum, with beautiful, curiosity-inspiring exhibits exploring the animal and plant kingdoms and the prehistoric world. It's also a real bargain - general admission to the vast permanent exhibition areas is...
Tokyo Bunka Kaikan - Notable building: Ueno
The magnificent main building of this concert hall was completed in 1961 and designed by the Japanese modernist architect Kunio Maekawa. Maekawa apprenticed with Le Corbusier in Paris from 1928-1930 before returning to Japan and starting his own...
National Museum of Western Art - Museum: Ueno
[Open 9:30am-5:30pm (Fri -8). Closed Mondays.]
This is the only building in Japan designed by renowned French architect Le Corbusier. The three-story reinforced-concrete structure was finished in 1959, based on detailed drawings by three Japanese apprentices of Le Corbusier's - Kunio Maekawa,...
Ueno Zoo - Zoo: Ueno
[Open 9am-5pm (tickets sold until 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
Perhaps best known for its beloved giant pandas, Ueno Zoo is home to more than 2600 animals from more than 450 species. Zoo highlights include a petting zoo, a small-mammal house with a nocturnal animal section, and a reptile and amphibian house...
Horyuji Gallery - Museum: Ueno
[Open 9:30am-5pm (enter by 4:30pm; Fri-8pm). Closed Mondays.]
The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures is part of Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park. It houses more than 300 historical artifacts, mainly from the seventh and eighth centuries, which were donated to the Imperial Household by Horyuji Temple in Nara in...
Ameyoko Center Market - Food market: Ueno
[Open 10am-8pm. Closed Wednesdays.]
With an atmosphere reminiscent of the bustling food markets of Hong Kong and Thailand, the basement of this old commercial building is filled with small shops specializing in ingredients from China, Korea, Southeast Asia and South Asia. You'll find...
Neko Maru Cafe Ueno - Cat cafe: Ueno
[Open 11am-10pm daily.]
There are twenty-six feline residents - several of them rescue cats from a local shelter - at this conveniently located cafe just around the corner from Ueno station. The playroom is furnished with climbing trees, lots of empty boxes to explore,...
SCAI the Bathhouse - Art gallery: Taito-ku
[Open noon-7pm. Closed Sun, Mon.]
Occupying a renovated 200-year-old bathhouse, this cutting-edge gallery represents some of Japan's best-known contemporary artists. The space itself is fairly small, so it's best to combine a visit here with other sights in the neighborhood. Also...
Calligraphy Museum - Museum: Uguisudani
[Open 9:30am-4:30pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
Although it's called a Calligraphy museum, the collection here focuses mainly on the early history of the Chinese (and later Japanese) written language through its use in inscriptions on ancient Chinese jade, bronze and ceramic objects. There are...

Asakusa

Asakusa Pier - Boat pier: Asakusa
Boats to Hinode Pier via Hamarikyu on the Sumida River Line. 40/35 min. travel time. Boats run once or twice an hour 10am-5:10pm or later. Boats to Toyosu via Odaiba Seaside Park on the Asakusa Odaiba Direct Line. 70/50 min. travel time. Boat...
Sensoji Temple - Temple: Asakusa
Dating back to A.D. 628, this is Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple and also its most popular. Leading from the main gate is a long pedestrian walk lined with nearly 100 bustling little stands selling souvenirs and crafts. This is one of the rare...
Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center - Event space: Asakusa
[Open 9am-8pm (rooftop and cafe -10pm) daily.]
Rising from a relatively narrow (326-square-meter) plot, the seven-story structure is fashioned as a series of irregular horizontal planes stacked precariously on top of each other, with several of the levels bounded by distinctive-looking walls of...
Amuse Museum - Museum: Asakusa
[Open 10am-6pm (enter by 5:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Established in 2009, this rather specialized ethnological museum focuses on unique textiles, graphics and product designs with a traditional Japanese aesthetic. One highlight is Chuzaburo Tanaka's massive collection of "boro" patchwork-style...
Bar Six - Bar: Asakusa
[Open 6pm-2am. Closed Mondays.]
Located at the top of the very cultural Amuse Museum, Bar Six offers a nice evening view of the illuminated pagoda and temple buildings of nearby Sensoji Temple. Weather permitting, the outdoor terrace seats offer...
Monta - Cat cafe: Asakusa
[Open 11am-8pm (last entry 7:30pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
This cat cafe in the heart of tourist-filled Asakusa has a limited number of cats - eight at last count - but the staff seem to be good at keeping them engaged with various cat toys and other entertainment. The playroom is nicely furnished with...
Nekoen - Cat cafe: Asakusa
[Open 11am-9pm. Closed Tuesdays.]
It isn't the biggest or the most populous cat cafe in town, but the vivacious and outgoing proprietor helps make Nekoen (Cat Park) a comfortable spot to hang out for an hour. And it doesn't hurt that they serve alcohol, so you can treat the place...
Don Quijote - Retail: Asakusa
[Open 24 hours a day.]
Fun late-night shopping for bargains and novelty items at this larger-than-average branch of the popular discount retailer.
Tori no Iru Cafe - Bird cafe: Asakusa
[Open 1-8pm daily.]
The emphasis is on hands-on interaction with dozens of lively birds at this basement cafe in touristy Asakusa. The cafe offers two very different experiences: a quiet moment with ten sleepy owls, and absolute bedlam with a flock of noisy,...
Forest of Owl - Bird cafe: Asakusa
[Open 10am-9pm daily.]
Following the trend of diversifying the population of animal cafes, Forest of Owls features meerkats, snakes, parrots and other small animals in addition to owls. Because of the cafe's setup, though, with just one big room where some of the owls...
Drum Museum - Museum: Asakusa
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays.]
By far the noisiest museum we've been to in Tokyo, Asakusa's Drum Museum is also one of the most interactive. Hundreds of percussion instruments of all shapes and sizes are on display here, many of them waiting to be banged on by visitors - just...
Kamata Knife Shop - Knife shop: Asakusa
[Open 10am-6pm (Sun 12:30-5:30pm). Open every day.]
Patronized by both professional chefs and home cooks, Kamata uses traditional methods to craft their knives, offering more than 800 different items for sale. It's also a good place to buy whetstones, which make nice gifts for any chefs in your...
Kappabashi Market - Retail: Asakusa
[most shops 10am-6pm; some closed Sundays.]
Tsukiji fish market may be the first destination for foodies visiting Tokyo, and a department store basement food floor is also an essential stop, but one often-neglected attraction is the restaurant-supply district of Kappabashi. Famous for its...
Dengama - Retail: Asakusa
[Open 10am-7pm daily.]
Located at the entrance to the Kappabashi shopping district on the corner of Asakusa-dori and Kappabashi-dori, this two-story shop offers an impressive selection of tableware in all price ranges. Upstairs you'll find artisanal pottery from all over...
Maizuru - Retail: Asakusa
[Open 9am-6pm daily.]
Although the custom is not as popular as it once was, some restaurants in Japan still show off plastic food models in their display windows to entice passersby. Maizuru is where they buy them. You can purchase realistic-looking plastic...

Skytree (Oshiage)

Cats and Dogs Cafe - Animal cafe: Oshiage
[Open 11am-8:30pm (LO). Closed Tuesdays.]
This local neighborhood spot is more like a rescue-cat shelter than a cat cafe, and unlike in typical cafes, we definitely noticed the presence of litter boxes as soon as we entered the room. There are some charming cats here though, and if you're...
Tokyo Skytree - Attraction: Oshiage
[Open 8am-10pm daily.]
The world's highest free-standing broadcast tower, Skytree stands 634 meters tall and has two observation decks, situated at 350 meters and 450 meters. A restaurant, cafe and souvenir shop are located on the lower deck. The tower is at the center...
Sumida Aquarium - Aquarium: Oshiage
[Open 9am-8pm (last entry) daily.]
Penguins are the star performers at Sumida Aquarium, where they cavort in a 350-ton indoor tank at the center of a two-story atrium space. Overall, the aquarium is on the compact side, and may seem a bit overpriced at Y2,000, but it has some...
Sumida Machidokoro - Retail: Oshiage
[Open 10am-9pm daily.]
Showcasing traditional and modern crafts local to the Sumida-ku area (where Tokyo Skytree is located), this attractive shop sells glassware, traditional food items, chopsticks and bowls, knives and scissors, and goods made from wood, leather and...
Chiba Institute of Technology - Attraction: Oshiage
[Open 10:30am-6pm daily.]
Wondering what Japanese robots are up to these days? Find out at the Tokyo Skytree campus of Chiba University of Technology, which is actually just a couple of exhibition spaces located upstairs from the Skytree's shopping-mall complex. One area...
Postal Museum - Museum: Oshiage
[Open 10am-5:30pm (last entry 5pm) daily.]
Stamp collectors and stamp enthusiasts will be excited to explore the centerpiece of this specialty museum - an impressively huge collection of more than 330,000 postage stamps from around the world, carefully arranged in hundreds of vertical...
Tobacco and Salt Museum - Museum: Oshiage
[Open 10am-6pm (enter by 5:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Run by cigarette conglomerate Japan Tobacco, this oddly specialized museum focuses on the history of tobacco use around the world and the history of the Japanese salt industry. Graphic design historians can draw inspiration from a huge wall display...